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The Rockefeller Foundation Names Roy Steiner Managing Director for Food

Respected Global Development Expert to Lead Foundation’s Advances in Human Nutrition and Sustainable Food Production

NEW YORK — The Rockefeller Foundation today announced that Roy Steiner, PhD, has been named managing director for the Foundation’s Food Initiative. Under Dr. Steiner’s direction, The Rockefeller Foundation will create access to nourishing food for millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, support scientific advances in human nutrition and sustainable food production, and carry forward the Foundation’s enduring commitment to a sustainable Green Revolution in Africa. Dr. Steiner’s leadership and expertise within global food and agriculture spans more than three decades, including leadership positions with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Omidyar Network.

Dr. Steiner comes to The Rockefeller Foundation from the Omidyar Network, where he served as Director of the Intellectual Capital team since 2015, focused on helping Omidyar achieve its strategic objectives at all levels including in the agriculture space. He dedicated nearly a decade of his career to leadership positions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was a founding member of the Agricultural Development initiative and was instrumental in working with The Rockefeller Foundation to develop the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA. His work for Gates was central to the creation of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, or ATA, which helps accelerate the growth and transformation of Ethiopia’s agriculture sector, and dozens of other partnerships that are critical to the fight against food insecurity around the world.

“Roy brings a lifetime of experience dedicated to ending global hunger and creating a more equitable, sustainable food system,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Throughout his career, he has harnessed innovative technology and funding platforms to spur solutions for economic development and food security in Africa and in vulnerable communities around the world. As leader of our Food Initiative, Roy will bring together public, private and foundation partners to reimagine a global food system that sustainably nourishes the world with dignity and equity, without breaking the back of our planet.”

“Almost exactly 27 years ago I joined The Rockefeller Foundation’s Warren Weaver Fellows program as a newly minted graduate student,” said Dr. Steiner. “That profound experience influenced the trajectory of my entire life and I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to build upon the extraordinary legacy of the Foundation, which has played such an important and creative role in addressing the increasingly complex and continually evolving challenges of our global food system.”

Before the Gates Foundation, Dr. Steiner spent eight years in Africa where he was founder and CEO of Cyberplex Africa, one of the largest web development and knowledge management companies in southern Africa. Early in his career, he was an original founder and managing director of Africa Online, which pioneered the delivery of Internet service in Zimbabwe. Additionally, he was a founding member of CH2MHill’s Strategies Group and has consulted for McKinsey & Company in the areas of technology innovation, growth strategies and international development.

“I am delighted with the appointment of Roy Steiner as Managing Director for the Rockefeller Foundation Food Initiative,” said Akin Adesina, president of the African Development Bank. “Roy brings extensive experience in the support of agriculture from his earlier work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was instrumental in the creation of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. The Rockefeller Foundation’s re-prioritization of agriculture is a welcome development and will further boost our collective efforts to transform agriculture in Africa.”

“Roy has been at the forefront of championing innovation across the agricultural ecosystem,” said Sara Menker, founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence. “His commitment to addressing the system in a holistic way combined with his experience and understanding of data and technology in the agriculture sector means that he is uniquely positioned to be a facilitator of much needed dialogue across all stakeholders and make investments that support a world that produces more food sustainably.”

The Rockefeller Foundation believes the fight against hunger, especially when anchored in science and markets, can be won. The Rockefeller Foundation was founded in 1913 to fulfill an unprecedented and enduring mission: to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Over the last 105 years, the Foundation has taken bold risks and delivered profound and lasting impact for millions of people around the world, especially in the areas of food security and agricultural development. As hunger and famine gripped nations cut off from progress, The Rockefeller Foundation invested in international agricultural research and supported breakthrough thinkers, including Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, to create breakthroughs that ushered in a Green Revolution and fed more than a billion people. Today, the Foundation remains committed to reaching millions of people in the U.S. and around the world with nourishing food while improving the sustainability of the global food system. To learn more about the Foundation’s work to improve the global food system, see Dr. Shah’s recent remarks at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands.

Dr. Steiner holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science in agricultural and biological engineering with minors in economics and international development from Cornell University, as well as two bachelor degrees in mechanical engineering and biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He begins his position the week of Sept. 4, 2018.


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