Otis Rolley

Former Senior Vice President

Otis Rolley joined The Rockefeller Foundation in 2019. Immediately prior to joining the Foundation, Otis served as a North America Managing Director for 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative of the Foundation. There he provided urban resilience technical assistance and portfolio management for 29 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Prior to his work at 100RC, Otis served as CEO of Newark, New Jersey’s economic development corporation.

A true urbanist, Otis’s career has been dedicated toward advancing economic and community development in cities, leading organizations in the for-profit and non-profit private sectors. His 20 years of experience also includes serving in various leadership positions in the public sector. He has held cabinet roles with 5 different mayors in three large U.S. cities. He has been a chief of staff managing a $2 billion budget; city planning director for America’s largest independent city; and he has served as the first deputy housing commissioner for the 5th largest public housing and community development agency in the U.S.

Otis has a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University.

Authored Content

  • May 25 2022
    Speeches Remarks by Otis Rolley at MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning Commencement As prepared for delivery on May 25, 2022 Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Christopher, for that kind introduction. Dean Sarkis, professors, staff, thank you for the privilege and honor to share some thoughts and encouragement with the Class of 2022. If nothing else, these last two years have taught us to give folks their flowers […] Otis Rolley
  • Mar 08 2022
    Blueprint Equitable Economic Development 101: Acknowledge, Target, Collaborate, and Measure Economic development organizations (EDOs) are mandated to promote the economic wellbeing, vitality, and quality of life of their communities. In the United States, economic development typically involves facilitating growth and identifying opportunities to enhance jobs and wealth and to provide a stable tax base that supports activities for the common good. Economic development professionals (collectively, […] Carol Tan, Otis Rolley
  • Jul 21 2021
    Blog Post Investing in Financial Innovations to Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap What if you made it much easier for workers of color to become business owners, and thus build wealth much faster? What if you offered creative, revenue-based loans to underserved business owners to help them hire more workers and grow? This year alone, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Zero Gap Fund (ZGF) has invested in two enterprises […] Maria Kozloski, Otis Rolley
  • Jun 23 2021
    Blog Post Want More Equitable Vaccine Distribution? Make Better Use of Data Albert Einstein once famously said if he were given an hour to solve a problem, he’d spend 55 minutes understanding it, and then take just five minutes developing solutions. That formula makes total sense, and perhaps especially when considering a complex and tangled problem like inequity and healthcare. Translated narrowly for the U.S. vaccination effort, […] Otis Rolley