Announcing the Heckscher Leadership Fellows Program

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Announcing the Heckscher Leadership Fellows Program

The Heckscher Foundation welcomes two remarkable education leaders, Ruth Genn and Vita Rabinowitz, as its inaugural Heckscher Leadership Fellows. Designed after similar programs in the private equity world, where successful entrepreneurs are invited to spend a year developing new for-profit ventures, the Heckscher Leadership Fellows Program will provide those in senior education leadership positions with an opportunity to develop new venture philanthropy projects and approaches that help level the playing field for underserved youth. 

The Heckscher Leadership Fellows Program is intended to extend the reach and impact of the foundation’s venture philanthropy approach to grantmaking. This approach focuses on three high-leverage funding strategies—catalytic giving, strategic partnerships with other funders in the public and private sectors, and targeted problem solving—while seeking out “inflection point funding,” which focuses on those specific obstacles that keep underserved youth from realizing their full potential and the key junctures where the foundation’s grantmaking might change the course of their lives. 

Fellows will work independently starting in April 2020 on projects of their choosing and may periodically advise the foundation on grantmaking opportunities. An annual stipend will be provided as well as access to the foundation’s office space and services, which Fellows may use at their discretion.

Meet our Leadership Fellows:

Ruth Genn
Ruth founded the New York office of Bottom Line and served as its Executive Director for seven years. During her tenure, Bottom Line NY grew from an inaugural class of 125 students to a thriving program helping over 3,000 students annually to earn their college degree, establishing itself as a leader in the college access and success space. Previously, Ruth worked at New Visions for Public Schools where she launched and directed New Visions’ first Data and College Readiness departments. Before joining New Visions in 2005, Ruth worked in the Bloomberg Administration on the integration of after-school services across several New York City agencies. Ruth began her career as a New York City public school teacher through Teach for America. She holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in Government from Cornell University.

Vita C. Rabinowitz
Vita has served in the most senior leadership roles at The City University of New York, including Interim Chancellor, University Provost, Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hunter College, where she has taught and mentored thousands of students over the course of her 37-year career there. Before serving as Hunter’s provost, she held a variety of administrative positions at the school, including chairperson of the Department of Psychology. While at Hunter, Dr. Rabinowitz was the recipient of major National Science Foundation grants, including ones to strengthen the many STEM enrichment programs at Hunter College and to launch Hunter’s Undergraduate Research Initiative, and another that established Hunter’s Gender Equity Project, which sought to advance women faculty in the natural and social sciences. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and is co-author of a popular textbook, Engendering Psychology: Women and Gender Revisited. While in CUNY’s Central Office, Dr. Rabinowitz launched successful initiatives to improve graduation rates, academic momentum, and academic quality.