On October 6, 2009, Edward Rover was elected chairman and CEO of the Dana Foundation. He succeeds William Safire, who passed away on September 27.
The Dana Foundation was founded in 1950 by New York industrialist, lawmaker, and philanthropist Charles A. Dana. It originally focused on higher education, but, about 20 years ago, it shifted its grantmaking toward brain science. Later, it added support for immunology and arts education to its grantmaking portfolio. Rover notes that the latter initiatives are being scaled back, in order to direct resources to the foundation’s core work on the brain.
“We’re really going to focus on the brain, the brain, the brain,” Rover stresses. One of the foundation’s new initiatives is to foster collaboration between immunologists and neuroscientists in the field of neuroimmunology, with a special focus on applications for combating brain cancer.
Rover highlighted another Dana Foundation project: connecting neuroscientists with education professionals. “How,” he asks, “can educators better avail themselves of developments in neuroscience?” He points to promising new ideas about how to connect research on neuroscience with improving classroom learning.
Asked about the foundation’s achievements in recent years, Rover says that “the stigma associated with problems of the brain—such as schizophrenia, autism, or Alzheimer’s disease—has been significantly reduced. People now realize that problems of the brain are as acute as polio or other illnesses that are easier to see.”
As president of the Dana Foundation since 2000, Rover worked closely with Safire, a former New York Times columnist. “What a tremendous, tremendous resource Bill was,” he says. “I have learned so much working with Bill in everything that we do.” Rover has served on Dana’s board since 1995, and he is also head of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.
Prior to 2004, Rover was a senior partner at White & Case LLP, where he was active in the representation of tax-exempt organizations and served as outside counsel to some of the nation’s largest foundations. He remains of counsel at White & Case. Rover has also served as secretary of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, council member of the Harvard-Mahoney Neuroscience Institute, and trustee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He earned his B.A. from Fordham University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Robert E. Norton II
In 2009, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation named Robert E. (“Bob”) Norton II as its first vice president for donor relations. Norton was previously assistant general counsel at Chrysler LLC.
“Several years ago, our board of directors modified our vision statement to include a statement that the foundation would assemble sufficient resources, not only from Bradley, but also from other sources, to ensure the long-term success of our grantees’ programs,” notes Michael Grebe, president and CEO of the foundation. “We have done a good job of developing additional resources in the past, but Bob will take it to a new level. We’re delighted to have him on board.”
“My job is to pool resources with those who share our interests,” says Norton. Through this effort, he explains, the Bradley Foundation intends to increase its impact. His portfolio at the foundation is to “build relationships with other foundations, entities, and individuals to achieve the foundation’s goals,” he says.
“I really like the fact that Bradley has a long tradition of collaborating; not being caught up in who gets the credit or whether the project is considered a ‘Bradley exclusive,’” Norton says. “We do not hesitate to join in on the good ideas of others if they further our original donors’ intent. Much of the great work Bradley has accomplished over the years has been achieved by working closely with others.”
“It is all about achieving results,” he continues. “Often the best results are by combining the efforts and resources of many in the interest of a common goal.”
Norton was familiar with the Bradley Foundation well before he was contacted about the new position. “I was attracted to the foundation’s stance on public policy issues and its preference for market-based solutions to various issues. I also agreed with its position on legal reform and the need to curtail frivolous and vexatious litigation tactics,” he explains. At Chrysler, he oversaw vehicle-related class action litigation, vehicle safety regulatory compliance, and lemon-law litigation.
Prior to his tenure at Chrysler, Norton was associate general counsel at Visteon Corporation and assistant general counsel at Lucas Varity. He entered legal practice after spending more than a dozen years working in his family-owned automotive service business.
Norton received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, and graduated from Rochester College, where he was a trustee for 14 years. He also earned a degree in business science from Walsh College of Business and Accountancy.
Joe Pon is the new vice president for programs at the James Irvine Foundation, one of the largest foundations exclusively focused on California. The foundation was established in 1937 by Orange County landowner James Irvine.
Pon oversees the development, implementation, and refinement of Irvine’s grantmaking throughout California. “One of the many things that attracted me to the Irvine Foundation is the focus on California and the impact Irvine is having on improving the lives of all Californians,” says Pon. “As a second-generation Californian—whose grandparents all immigrated to this state and fulfilled their hopes of opening new possibilities for their families—the work of the foundation has particular meaning.”
Irvine has three core grantmaking programs: arts, California democracy, and youth. “These are big and critically important challenges,” explains Pon. “Each of them is, of course, heightened by the economic downturn and its impact on nonprofits and on all Californians.”
Before joining Irvine, Pon was vice president for global corporate affairs at Applied Materials Inc. in Silicon Valley, where he oversaw corporate philanthropy, government affairs, and community relations. “I think my global experience can be a useful perspective at the foundation,” Pon explains. “We live in a global economy and a networked world, and solutions developed elsewhere can and should be applied in California whenever that makes sense. That’s an approach that I took in my corporate responsibilities, and that experience can help Irvine build on its long and distinguished history of public service in the Golden State.”
He has served on the boards of the San Jose–Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, the West Valley–Mission College Advancement Foundation, and Opera San Jose, of which he was president. Pon received a B.A. in Russian-Soviet studies and psychology from Claremont McKenna College and an M.Sc. in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
In November 2009, Leah Vincent joined The Philanthropy Roundtable as director of Helping People to Help Themselves programs.
Vincent will focus on connecting donors who are interested in this broad sector of philanthropy with each other and with successful programs. “My goal is to build momentum in this area, facilitating access to resources and information for grantmakers passionate about this programmatic area,” says Vincent. “I look forward to learning about grantmakers’ passions and achievements and helping them to meet new goals in this area.”
“The principle of helping people to help themselves is central to The Philanthropy Roundtable,” adds Adam Meyerson, president of the Roundtable. “We believe that one of the highest forms of charitable giving is to enable people from all social and economic backgrounds to enjoy the benefits and opportunities of a free society. And we are delighted that Leah will be leading our work with donors on this initiative.”
Vincent believes the first step in helping people to help themselves is giving them the necessary resources to do so. “Some poor and needy people don’t have the tools they need to build a healthy and productive life,” she says. “With a ‘Helping People to Help Themselves’ strategy, philanthropists give people the tools that they can then use to craft their own lives and take responsibility for their own futures.”
Before joining the Roundtable, Vincent worked as a policy analyst in Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Office of Innovation and Performance Management. During her time there, she developed a centralized grant management strategy and worked with city leaders to develop performance metrics that reflected strategic goals.
Prior to working in Mayor Booker’s office, Vincent served at the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island in Brooklyn as director of the Horizons Academy Afterschool Program (a nonprofit program that she founded and developed) and as director of vocational, refugee, and mental health services for 9/11 victims. Vincent earned her B.A. in psychology at Brooklyn College, and she holds an M.P.P. from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.