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Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Founding President & CEO Melissa Berman Stepping Down

October 17, 2022

(NEW YORK – October 17, 2022) Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) President and CEO Melissa Berman announced today that she will step down in 2023.  The RPA Board of Directors will embark on a global search to find Ms. Berman’s replacement. Berman will remain President & CEO of RPA until her successor is in place.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our gratitude to Melissa and for her many contributions these past 20 years. RPA is fortunate to have had such a visionary leader to build and steward a world-class organization. She leaves behind a truly remarkable legacy, and leaves us positioned to accelerate philanthropy,” said RPA Board Chairperson Valerie Rockefeller.

Ms. Berman has led RPA since its inception 20 years ago, building it into one of the world’s leading philanthropic advisory, grant-making, research and project management services. During her tenure the nonprofit has grown to an organization of more than 100 core employees advising on and managing over $500 million annually in philanthropy across dozens of countries.  Major philanthropists, corporations and foundations turn to RPA for strategic planning, organization development, issue analysis, grant portfolio development and impact investing. In addition to its many advisory clients, RPA has grown to currently house over 100 fiscally-sponsored projects across the globe driving change in social justice, climate, gender and economic equity, education, arts, and more.

“It has been an honor to work with the talented, committed people of RPA for the past two decades. I’m enormously proud of the organization we are today and the impact we’ve had helping thousands of generous individuals, nonprofit organizations, and networks around the globe create more effective philanthropy to tackle the greatest challenges of our time,” Berman said.  “With a new strategic plan in place and a revised mission to accelerate philanthropy in pursuit of a just world, it’s time to bring in a new leader for RPA’s next great chapter.”  Ms. Berman will remain active in philanthropy, and in particular looks forward to expanding her teaching and writing.

Ms. Berman’s many achievements led her to be recognized as an expert in the field, including having been named among the top 50 Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy by Inside Philanthropy. She is widely quoted in the media, is a frequent speaker, and serves as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s business school, where she teaches global philanthropy.

Under her leadership, RPA developed and published the Philanthropy Roadmap series of donor guides, the seminal publications for families and foundations seeking to engage in thoughtful, effective philanthropy. Ms. Berman also developed and led Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ research initiative called The Theory of the Foundation, supported by an international cohort of over 100 philanthropy leaders. Over its four phases, this work developed a new framework for 21st century philanthropy, explored philanthropy’s social compact and identified new operating models for effective, equitable, and impactful philanthropy.

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