NEW YORK — The Ford Foundation today announced the appointment of Bess Rothenberg as director of its new office of Strategy and Learning. Led by Rothenberg—who will draw on a distinguished career dedicated to strategy development, learning and human rights—this new division reflects the foundation’s commitment to continuous learning as it refines its approach to challenging inequality in all its forms.
Based at the foundation’s headquarters in New York City, Rothenberg’s efforts to strengthen Ford’s capacity as a learning institution will involve working closely with all 10 of its global offices. To ensure that learning and strategy are factored into important leadership decisions, Rothenberg will advise the foundation’s executive team and report directly to the president, Darren Walker. “We could not be more excited to have Bess join the Ford Foundation at this critical moment, when we are refining our strategy and pushing ourselves to truly become a learning organization,” Walker said. “With Bess leading this new effort, the office of Strategy and Learning will be a tremendous asset for the foundation, helping us to work better and smarter.”
Rothenberg joins the foundation from Wellspring Advisors, where she served as deputy director of research and evaluation. In that role, she led strategic planning for international and US-based human rights work. Earlier, Rothenberg served as senior program officer for Africa at the International Women’s Health Coalition, and as associate director of grants at the American Jewish World Service. She has also served as assistant professor of applied sociology and African studies at Clemson University, and as associate director with Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights.
"The Ford Foundation has always been a leader in the field of philanthropy, but at this moment it is promising not only to lead, but to transform,” Rothenberg said. “I am extremely excited to join Ford at this important moment, to help support the implementation of a new vision and strategy."
Rothenberg earned a BA in sociology from Boston University, and a PhD in sociology from the University of Virginia. She was a Fulbright Doctoral Fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin.