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The Rockefeller Foundation Elects Walter Isaacson to Board of Trustees

Mr. Isaacson is currently President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, and formerly chairman and CEO of CNN and editor of TIME magazine


NEW YORK—The Rockefeller Foundation announced today the election of author, journalist, business leader, and education advocate Walter Isaacson to its Board of Trustees. Mr. Isaacson is a professor of history at Tulane University and the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine. He plans to step down from his position at the Aspen Institute on June 1, 2018.

“Walter is a globally-renowned thinker and champion for many of the things we stand for at The Rockefeller Foundation—equal rights, justice, human dignity, and for the power of information and innovation to improve the lives of people around the world. His decades of experience and diverse professional expertise will benefit our Board of Trustees,” said Board Chair Richard D. Parsons. “Walter’s presence adds depth and breadth to an already deeply talented and diverse Board. I know that I speak for the entire Board in saying we are thrilled he will be joining our institution.”

“I’m grateful for the partnership and leadership of our Trustees, who today guide the Foundation through a pivotal time for philanthropy and for our country. For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation has brought together some of the brightest, most passionate people to solve the world’s toughest problems—and we’re pleased and honored to welcome Walter Isaacson into this tradition,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “I look forward to working with Walter to identify bold innovations that will deliver profound and lasting impact for millions of people around the world.”

Mr. Isaacson is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at the Sunday Times of London and then the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He joined TIME magazine in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of digital media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. He became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003. He is chair emeritus of Teach for America, which recruits college graduates to teach in underserved communities.

“I’m grateful to join an esteemed and deeply knowledgeable Board of Trustees committed to promoting the well-being of humanity around the world. In my experience, The Rockefeller Foundation is synonymous with excellence, always putting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable above all else. Their legacy and history are second to none, and I’ve long admired the Foundation’s ability to bring diverse partners to the table to solve big challenges, often putting its resource into places and problems considered too risky for most donors. I’m proud to join the other Trustees in continuing to advance this most important mission at a pivotal time for our world,” said Isaacson.

From 2005 to 2007, Mr. Isaacson was the vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, which oversaw the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international broadcasts of the United States, a position he held from 2009 to 2012. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and teaches and serves on the board of United Airlines, Tulane University, the New Orleans City Planning Commission, the New Orleans Tricentennial Commission, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Society of American Historians, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. He is also an advisory partner at Perella Weinberg, the banking financial firm based in New York City.

An accomplished author and biographer, Mr. Isaacson’s most recent biography, Leonardo da Vinci, offers new discoveries about Leonardo‘s life and work and connects his art to his science. He is also author of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, a biographical tale the people who invented the computer, Internet and other great innovations of the digital age. Other titles Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, and Kissinger: A Biography, as well as The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.


Contact Info:

The Rockefeller Foundation: Matt Herrick,

About The Rockefeller Foundation:

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot – or will not. For more information, please visit