Bekink will lead the foundation’s China office and oversee its grantmaking, external relations and local operations based in Beijing

Beijing, China – The Ford Foundation announced today the appointment of Mattie Bekink as its new regional director for its office in China. 

Bekink succeeds Elizabeth Knup who served as regional director from 2013 to 2023 and supported the foundation’s work to ensure that China’s impact in the world is equitable and sustainable. 

Bekink is a respected leader with decades of expertise on Chinese law, geopolitics, and economics. She also brings a proven track record of social sector experience and leadership within foundations and mission-driven institutions. As regional director, she will oversee the foundation’s local team, external relations and administrative operations in China. She will also lead on program strategy development and implementation in the region, focusing on issues related to China’s global imprint and advancing critical fields such as philanthropy, impact investing, and social inclusion for all.

“I am delighted to welcome Mattie to the foundation and for her to carry forward our important work in this critical region of the world,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “Mattie’s expertise in law and economics, and her skills as a communicator and strategic thinker, will position her as an invaluable leader in advancing a more just society where everyone can thrive.”

Immediately prior to joining the foundation in 2024, Mattie served with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research and analysis arm of The Economist Group, as the China director for the Economist Intelligence Corporate Network. In that role, she leveraged the collective intelligence of The Economist Group to support business leaders, diplomats, and academic practitioners to better understand China. Previously, Mattie had her own consultancy in which she worked primarily with non-profit and academic clients on matters related to law, institutional strategy, and communications. 

Previous to this, she worked to promote mutual understanding and constructive engagement in U.S.-China relations, including as a consultant at New York University. For over a decade at NYU, Mattie supported the establishment of NYU Shanghai, and worked with the Law School’s US-Asia Law Institute and the Business School’s Center for Business and Human Rights. Mattie also worked with the Anne Frank House for three years on international education projects and programming, including bringing a traveling exhibition to Shanghai. While consulting, Mattie concurrently served for three years as executive director of the Fulbright Commission the Netherlands, making grants related to academic exchange in the spirit of fostering mutual understanding. She was also previously the deputy country director for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative China Program and worked as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLP.

“I am humbled and excited to join the Ford Foundation and to work toward our ongoing mission to address inequality in all its forms,” says Bekink. “As China’s influence and impact grows, I look forward to contributing to Ford’s legacy of promoting social justice and reducing inequality across the globe.”

Mattie has a bachelor of arts in international relations from Stanford University and a juris doctorate from the Georgetown University Law Center. She is also a graduate of the International School of Beijing. To learn more about the Ford Foundation’s work in China, please visit our website.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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