Melissa A. Berman President and CEO

Melissa Berman

Melissa Berman is the founding President and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc., an innovative nonprofit philanthropy service launched by the Rockefeller family in 2002. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ mission is to help donors create thoughtful, effective philanthropy throughout the world.  RPA develops strategic plans, conducts research, manages foundations and trusts, structures major gifts, coordinates donor collaboratives, and provides regranting and fiscal sponsorship services.  Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors annually manages or facilitates about $200 million in giving to more than 25 countries.  It has offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago and will be opening in London by 2016.

Ms. Berman has led Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors since its inception, building it into one of the world’s leading philanthropic advisory, grantmaking, research and project management services.  Under her leadership, RPA developed and published the “Philanthropy Roadmap” series of donor guides with support from the Gates Foundation.  She developed and leads RPA’s research initiative, “The Theory of the Foundation,” and is the author of three reports in that initiative. 

A frequent speaker, Ms. Berman has been a guest lecturer at universities across the U.S., Europe and Asia including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Duke, IMD, Oxford, Sun-Yat Sen, and Beijing Normal universities.  As a widely-recognized expert in philanthropy, Ms. Berman has been profiled in the New York Times and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.  Her ideas and views are featured in the Economist, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  She has been interviewed on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, NPR, BBC Radio, CNBC-TV, and Bloomberg TV. 

Previously, she served as Senior Vice President, Research and Program Development at The Conference Board, a global nonprofit, independent business research organization. She oversaw all research and publications on management practices, including global corporate citizenship, governance, human resources, finance, and performance management.  

Ms. Berman is a director of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Foundation Center. She is an adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Business School, where she also serves on the Advisory Board for the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise.

Ms. Berman holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Areas of expertise: Foundation development, foundation governance, strategic planning, family/intergenerational philanthropy, role of the philanthropic sector