Rodin to Step Down as President of Rockefeller Foundation

  • Her tenure has focused on resilience and impact investing
  • Also led funding of ‘Hamilton’ tickets for inner-city kids

Judith Rodin will step down as president of the Rockefeller Foundation after more than 11 years running the $4 billion-endowed organization.

She will depart once a successor has begun the job, the foundation said Thursday in a statement. Rodin, 71, has made resilience in cities -- an urban planning term that has come into use in response to climate change and decades of entrenched blight -- a focus of her tenure at the New York-based organization.

Judith Rodin in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 25, 2015.

Photographer: Michel Euler/AP Photo

"In the 21st century, crisis has become the new normal, so we’re spending billions of dollars around the world fixing things before they get broken," Rodin said in a telephone interview.

Rodin’s interest was catalyzed by Hurricane Katrina’s destruction in New Orleans, as well as her experiences in impoverished West Philadelphia when she was president of the University of Pennsylvania. The foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars in resilience, while Rodin helped secure commitments of $5.2 billion from city governments and $19 billion from the International Finance Corporation, according to the statement.

"Our view of partnering isn’t to just say, ‘Let’s all pool our money and do the same thing,’" Rodin said. "Our view is, if we all take these differentiated but integrated actions, we can fix this system."

Rodin also worked to involve the private sector through impact investing, a term coined at a conference the foundation hosted in 2006. The foundation invested $50 million of its program money “to build the scaffolding for the field, which now has about $60 billion under investment," she said. In addition, $150 million of its endowment is invested in companies that seek to produce social and environmental, as well as financial, returns, Rodin said.

A more modest investment of $1.5 million earned the foundation a spotlight on Broadway. The foundation’s grant is helping to provide inner-city kids tickets to “Hamilton: The Musical," and to incorporate it into the 11th-grade history curriculum to teach the life of Alexander Hamilton and other founding fathers.

Rodin is the first female president of the foundation and also was the first female president of an Ivy League university. Other women presidents later followed at Princeton, Brown and Harvard.

Richard Parsons, the former chief executive officer of Time Warner Inc., became the foundation’s chairman on June 1. John D. Rockefeller Sr., founder of Standard Oil, created it in 1913.

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