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The Rockefeller Foundation Appoints New Managing Directors

The Rockefeller Foundation today announced that Nancy Kete, Scott Leeb, and John Irons have been appointed to the role of managing director. Nancy Kete will focus on the Foundation’s global work on resilience. John Irons will coordinate The Rockefeller Foundation’s domestic work in the United States, with an initial concentration on the current jobs crisis. Scott Leeb will take on the new role of managing director, knowledge management. All three of the new managing directors will be based in New York.

“I am thrilled to welcome these three extraordinarily talented individuals to the Foundation,” said Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “They bring significant expertise in their field, a passion to make the world a better place and a commitment to help the Rockefeller Foundation maximize its impact.”


John Irons
John Irons has been named Managing Director and will be focused on the Rockefeller Foundation’s work within the United States. His first area of concentration will be the jobs crisis. Dr. Irons will apply his skills to the Foundation’s existing portfolio of domestic employment priorities, including the Transitions to Growth program, which studies how to apply successful employment programs at scale; the Sustainable Employment in a Green US Economy (SEGUE) Initiative, which is catalyzing the development of green jobs; and the Brookings–Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation, focusing on a new regional approach to economic development.

“I have spent my career analyzing the U.S. economy and domestic economic policies to better inform public policy decisions. I am excited about the opportunity to continue and expand the work at the Rockefeller Foundation, including projects targeted at impacting the ongoing jobs crisis,” said Dr. Irons. “I hope my experience as an economist, with a background in policy analysis, will contribute to the Rockefeller Foundation’s work on jobs, economic opportunity, and the economic security of all Americans.”

Dr. Irons joins the Foundation from the Economic Policy Institute, where he was research and policy director. He led a department responsible for research and policy development on labor markets, macroeconomics, education, international trade, public investment, health care policy, regulatory policy, and a program on race, ethnicity and the economy.  Prior to his time at EPI, Dr. Irons was director of tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress where he directed and organized tax activities and research. He also served as staff economist at OMB Watch and assistant professor of economics at Amherst College. He started his career as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in DC.  Dr. Irons’ academic publications have appeared in several Journals including the Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Review of Financial Economics and the Eastern Economic Journal. John holds a Ph.D in economics from MIT and a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College.


Nancy Kete
Nancy Kete has been named Managing Director, with a focus on the Foundation’s global work on resilience. Dr. Kete has significant expertise in promoting environmental and financial sustainability, working on acid rain, climate change, and transportation systems, as well as on ways to reduce risk from oil and gas exploration. She has a solid track record in designing practical solutions that get to scale for large populations.

“I am honored to join The Rockefeller Foundation staff and further its work to find the kinds of policies, institutions, and practices that will enable poor and vulnerable to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute crises and chronic stresses,” said Dr. Kete. “I admire the pioneering work the Foundation has funded around resilience and I look forward to both continuing and expanding it.”

Dr. Kete spent eight years at the World Resources Institute (WRI) as director of the EMBARQ Network, a pioneering approach to catalyzing environmentally and financially sustainable transport solutions to improve quality of life in cities in Mexico, Brazil, India, Turkey, and the Andean region. Dr. Kete left WRI in 2010 to create the Sustainable Mobility Finance LLC, look at new forms of international financing to complement traditional multilateral development bank financing and explore setting up a separate sustainable mobility financing group.

Dr. Kete also served on President Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. In her role as senior advisor for corporate safety and risk management, Dr. Kete provided recommendations on unilateral steps industry should take to increase safety and reduce likelihood of accidents. Earlier in her career Dr. Kete worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency where she led the development of a the acid rain control title of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments while serving as senior policy advisor on environmental and energy issues.

Dr. Kete holds a PhD in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in geography from Southern Illinois University.


Scott Leeb
Scott Leeb has been named to the new role of managing director, knowledge management. Mr. Leeb will design, implement, and manage a centralized function for gathering and accessing all of The Rockefeller Foundation’s extensive information resources to ensure that collective knowledge capital is leveraged to support the Foundation’s operations and contributes to the impact of the work of the Foundation and its grantees. Mr. Leeb will also serve as a senior specialist and architect responsible for creating and evolving content strategy.

“This is a unique opportunity to take the skills I have spent my entire career developing, and apply them to a philanthropic organization with a strong commitment to innovation,” said Mr. Leeb. “Throughout my career I have learned the value of information to an organization like the Rockefeller Foundation, and most importantly, how to convert that information into useful intelligence to help drive decision making.”

Mr. Leeb joins the Foundation with over 20 years of experience building business intelligence architecture. Throughout his career Mr. Leeb has developed global frameworks to collect, research and analyze information to support business growth.

Mr. Leeb joins Rockefeller from the Prudential where he was vice president, business intelligence, and was responsible for facilitating Prudential’s ongoing marketing transformation using research, analytics and data to leverage a competitive advantage. Mr. Leeb began his career at US Department of Defense and subsequently created and managed the global business intelligence function at four Fortune 500 companies.

Mr. Leeb holds a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. in international affairs (East Asia) from Columbia University and an M.A. in strategic studies (Asia) from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.


About the Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the well-being of people throughout the world has remained unchanged since its founding in 1913.  Today, that mission is applied to an era of rapid globalization.  Our vision is that this century will be one in which globalization’s benefits are more widely shared and its challenges are more easily weathered.  To realize this vision, the Foundation seeks to achieve two fundamental goals in our work.  First, we seek to build resilience that enhances individual, community and institutional capacity to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute crises and chronic stresses.  Second, we seek to promote growth with equity in which the poor and vulnerable have more access to opportunities that improve their lives.  In order to achieve these goals, the Foundation constructs its work into time-bound initiatives that have defined objectives and strategies for impact.  These initiatives address challenges that lie either within or at the intersections of five issue areas: basic survival safeguards, global health, environment and climate change, urbanization, and social and economic security. For more information, please visit


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