Sunday, October 12, 2014
How Institutions Take Risks
As Adolf Hitler harassed, isolated, and murdered many of Europe's greatest scientists, philosophers, and thinkers, the Rockefeller Foundation pivoted from its core public-health work to the heart-wrenching and perilous business of saving scholars who were seeking refuge from the Nazis.
In light of this episode and others, I decided to explore the Rockefeller Foundation's archives and interview its current president, Judith Rodin, to learn more about philanthropies, risk, and the links between risk-taking today and during the Nazi era.
The following interview examines the refugee-scholars program of the 1930s and early 1940s; Rodin's efforts at the University of Pennsylvania to invest endowment resources in West Philadelphia; her work in developing the field of impact investing; and her big bet at the Rockefeller Foundation on urban resilience....