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The Rockefeller Foundation Announces Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN ret., to Succeed American Business Executive Richard D. Parsons as Next Chair of Board of Trustees

Dick Parsons steps down after serving as Chair of the Board for five years

NEW YORK | May 11, 2021—The Rockefeller Foundation announced that retired four-star U.S. Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis will serve as the next Chair of its Board of Trustees.  He succeeds Richard D. Parsons, who will retire at the end of the board’s annual meeting in June 2021 following a five-year tenure as Chair and after serving on The Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees for 13 years.

“Dick is a trail-blazing and iconic American leader who believes in the power of people coming together to serve vulnerable families and communities and ensure that everyone has a chance to realize their full potential,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.  “Under his leadership, we’ve been able to do so at scale at home and around the world.”

“It has been a singular honor and privilege to serve as a member of the board and Chair of The Rockefeller Foundation,” said Mr. Parsons, Senior Advisor of Providence Equity Partners LLC.  “Moreover, for me it’s been the fulfillment of a life’s journey in service to others. While I will be leaving the Foundation, I will not be gone. I will continue to follow and root for Raj and the team from the sidelines and be available to counsel and assist whenever called upon.  Of course, the entire management and staff have my best wishes for continuing success.  The world needs you.”

Legacy of Serving Vulnerable Communities

During Mr. Parsons’ five-year tenure as Chair of the Board of Trustees, he helped advance the Foundation’s data-driven approach to solving some of the world’s most challenging problems, including:

  • Launching a billion-dollar, three-year commitment to end the Covid-19 pandemic for everyone, everywhere, catalyze a more inclusive, sustainable recovery, and prevent future pandemics – marking the single largest commitment in the Foundation’s 107-year, $22 billion-dollar history;
  • Working to close the health inequity gap by modernizing public health systems and driving innovation and investment to the most vulnerable communities around the world, including accelerating the Covid-19 response in communities across America and around the world;
  • Expanding the use of innovative financial instruments and private sector partners to increase access to safe, affordable renewable energy for underserved, low-income communities worldwide and end energy poverty for one billion people;
  • Advancing efforts to create jobs and economic opportunity for more than 40 percent of the world’s population, while advancing climate-smart solutions;
  • Focusing on creating equity and economic opportunity for U.S. working families and reforming America’s food system; and
  • Installing a policy to divest The Rockefeller Foundation’s endowment from existing fossil fuel interests while refraining from future fossil fuel investments, increasing the percentage of diverse-owned investment managers, and broadening its manager sourcing efforts.

During the 13 years that Mr. Parsons served as Chair and as member of the Board of Trustees, the Foundation made a total of $2.4 billion in charitable giving, and the endowment grew to more than $6 billion from $3.7 billion.

Mr. Parsons has deep connections to the Rockefeller family and the Foundation.  His maternal grandfather was groundskeeper at Kykuit, the Rockefeller Family estate in Westchester.  Twenty-five years later, as a young lawyer, he went to work for then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller, following that with other work for many members of the family.  His experience as Chairman of the Board of Citigroup, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and as Chairman and CEO of Dime Bancorp, Inc., one of the largest thrift institutions in the U.S., plus his public service in New York and during the Ford Administration gave him both a global and local view of the drivers of inequity.  His commitment has resulted in the Foundation’s investment managers, Board of Trustees, and workforce being more diverse than many of its peers.

“Dick’s passionate and thoughtful focus on the drivers of inequity in all forms has helped the Foundation focus on big, innovative thinking and initiatives that are bringing the kind of systemic change necessary to tear down the barriers to opportunity that so many face,” said Dr. Shah.  “It’s because of Dick’s leadership, wisdom, and advice — both for the Board of Trustees and for me, personally — that these extraordinary changes and this next incredible chapter for one of the world’s oldest foundations is possible.”

Ensuring a Future with Genuine Opportunity for All

Admiral Stavridis, who officially succeeds Mr. Parsons in June, will become the 14th Chair of the Board of Trustees since John D. Rockefeller provided an original endowment of $100 million in 1913 to start The Rockefeller Foundation.  Admiral Stavridis, who is Operating Executive of The Carlyle Group and Chair of the Board of Counselors for McLarty Associates, has been a Foundation board member since 2018.

“As we double down on efforts to ensure an equitable, sustainable future for all, we are thrilled to welcome Jim as the Board Chair,” said Dr. Shah.  “He is an extraordinary leader and big thinker whose diplomatic skills, lifelong commitment to service, and track record of building successful public private-partnerships across the globe make him an invaluable partner to all of us at the Foundation.”

A passionate advocate of global public-private partnerships to solve the most pressing issues facing vulnerable communities, Admiral Stavridis spent over 30 years in the Navy and led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, counter-piracy, and cybersecurity.  He also served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006 to 2009.  He earned more than 50 medals, including 28 from foreign nations over his 37-year military career.

“In my decades of service in the Navy, I saw firsthand the impact of some of the most pressing challenges facing vulnerable regions around the world — from food scarcity to a lack of economic mobility,” said Admiral Stavridis. “I have learned that the keys to security are development and diplomacy, as well public-private cooperation.  Working with Raj Shah when he was USAID Administrator was a highlight of my career, and I am thrilled to continue that work on behalf of The Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees.  Leveraging the Foundation’s resources and influence, I am confident we can continue to find innovative means to overcome obstacles facing communities around the world.  Above all, I congratulate Chairman Dick Parsons on his extraordinary tenure, which has indelibly and positively shaped this Foundation.”

Widely known throughout his 37-year military career for working closely with the nation’s diplomats and development experts, Admiral Stavridis has been deeply involved in medical diplomacy, disaster relief, humanitarian efforts, implementation of the rule of law, and environmental awareness globally.  As an operating executive with the Carlyle Group, he advises the executive team and investment professionals on geopolitical and national security issues.  Admiral Stavridis earned a Ph.D. in international relations and MA in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, where he later served as Dean.  He is the author of ten books and is well known as an expert commentator on international events, particularly at NBC News, where he serves as Chief International Diplomacy and Security Analyst.

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish.  We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal.  Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to health and nutritious food.  For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

Media Contact:
Ashley Chang
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