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Statement by Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, on the Death of Sandra Day O’Connor

Image via The New York Times.

Sandra Day O’Connor was a trailblazer and a champion of America’s highest ideals. I was saddened to hear of her passing today, and on behalf of The Rockefeller Foundation, where she served as a Trustee, I send my condolences to her family, friends, and all the people she inspired during her lifetime of service.

More than 40 years ago, Justice O’Connor became the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. During her tenure, she helped protect abortion rights and affirmative action, serving as the deciding vote in some of the most important cases before the Court in that era. Along the way, she became an icon to many.

In 2006, the same year she retired from the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor joined The Rockefeller Foundation’s Board of Trustees. She believed that at its best, philanthropy can serve as a “safeguard of our freedom” by testing new ideas to address the most challenging issues facing society. That belief drove her leadership and advocacy in strengthening the Foundation’s democracy and education programs.

Throughout her remarkable career and her time on our Board, Justice O’Connor advanced the well-being of humanity throughout the world. She will be missed, particularly by those who had the honor to serve with her at the Foundation. Fortunately, Justice O’Connor’s legacy will be a beacon of justice and equality for generations to come.