Kevin O’Neil

Managing DirectorInnovation, The Rockefeller Foundation

Kevin O’Neil is the Managing Director of New Frontiers at The Rockefeller Foundation, a team focused on discovering and scaling impactful solutions to global problems through research, convenings, and catalytic grantmaking. Currently, the team is focused on advancing work around democracy innovations, collective wellbeing, and the social and economic impacts of artificial intelligence – after previously successful initiatives launched around digital public infrastructure, access to the social safety net, housing insecurity, and more.

Originally joining the Foundation in 2014, Kevin previously led a team focused on researching and developing new initiatives with the goal of providing evidence for major strategic decisions across the Foundation’s portfolio.

He previously worked as a research and teaching fellow at the University of Cape Town, a fellow of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, and an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. He has also served as a firefighter on four continents.

Kevin holds a PhD in Population Science and Public Affairs from Princeton University and a BA in Economics from Swarthmore College. He is based in The Rockefeller Foundation’s Washington DC office and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Authored Content

  • Feb 16 2023
    Perspective Developing Country Voices and the Global Climate Agenda: Unlocking Lessons for Action One of the most important messages from last year’s COP27 global climate summit was voiced by leaders from emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). They made it clear that time was a luxury their countries did not have. Climate change was affecting their people now, they said, and global action to respond to the issues […] Kevin O'Neil, Nicole Rasul
  • Jul 22 2021
    Perspective Co-developing Digital Public Infrastructure for an Equitable Recovery As Covid-19 spread across the world last year, its impacts were fast and society-wide, ravaging health and livelihoods alike. The question quickly became: How can our societies respond with equivalent speed, scale, and breadth? Digital systems played a key role in this response. Sri Lanka, for example, built and deployed a real-time Covid-19 screening, contact […] Kevin O'Neil
  • Mar 03 2021
    Perspective Designing Technology for Easier, More Equitable Access to the Safety Net When people look for help from safety net programs, they are often at a low point. That the process for receiving legally mandated aid should so often be bewildering and, even more, humiliating, is a reality that I find personally wrenching—and that I believe should outrage us all. This is part of why The Rockefeller […] Kevin O'Neil
  • Jun 12 2020
    Perspective A Big Day for Inclusive Finance — and for Digital Public Goods Around the world, 1.7 billion adults don’t have a bank account. Many more have an account but pay significant fractions of their income to do basic transactions, wait days for transactions to clear, or can’t easily access their money. The Covid-19 crisis has made the need for financial inclusion even more clear. As the world […] Kevin O'Neil
  • Mar 27 2020
    Perspective For Social Services, Operating Digitally Is Critical to Covid-19 Resilience Over three million workers filed new claims for unemployment insurance in the United States this past week, representing a record-breaking surge in economic need as the COVID-19 pandemic forced families into seclusion. Even as the need grew, the pandemic forced government and private social services to close their offices, disrupting the normal channels people use […] Kevin O'Neil