Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Names Fiona Kanagasingam as Inaugural Vice President, Equity and Culture
Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced today that Fiona Kanagasingam has been named vice president, equity and culture. In this role, which is new to the Foundation, Kanagasingam will be a key member of the Foundation’s leadership team, responsible for internally advancing RWJF's mission and vision by building the strategy for and operationalizing equity, diversity, and inclusion across the organization. She will join the Foundation on May 16, 2022.
RWJF is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health, working alongside others to build a Culture of Health that provides everyone a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being.
Kanagasingam comes to RWJF with more than 20 years of organizational development and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) experience, and has managed change and scaled impact across multiple sectors as both a consultant and executive leader. In her most recent executive role, she served as the chief equity and learning officer at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, where she designed and operationalized a rigorous and measurable strategy for the organization’s transformation process to center equity, especially racial equity, across all operations, programs, and services. As a consultant, she has advised numerous nonprofits, foundations, and funder collaboratives looking to build the will, skill, and alignment for organizational change and social justice. She has partnered with these organizations through the BIPOC Project, an organization she co-founded in 2016 to build authentic and lasting solidarity among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), to undo Native erasure and anti-Black racism, and to ensure these focus areas are conditions for sustainable racial justice work within organizations and movement spaces.
This work builds on prior experiences at the intersection of leadership development, organizational transformation, and social justice. As director of consulting at Community Resource Exchange (CRE), New York City’s premier nonprofit consulting firm for groups fighting poverty and advancing social justice, Kanagasingam built and led the firm’s Equity and Inclusion practice, now one of its largest practices, to guide client organizations including government agencies, advocacy groups, funders, coalitions, and community-based organizations in shaping more equitable systems and cultures. She also launched CRE’s own internal racial equity transformation process, leading to radical shifts in the composition of leadership and staff, and in organizational systems from talent management to capacity-building.
Within higher education, as acting dean and director of leadership and global citizenship at Yale-NUS in Singapore, she introduced Inter-Group Dialogue, a structured methodology to explore social group identity, conflict, community, and social justice—a first in a country with a heavily circumscribed discourse on race and identity. She was also managing consultant at the Gallup Organization, where she advised large global corporations on organizational assessment and strategic change.
Kanagasingam received her Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, her master’s degree in Counseling from Monash University, Victoria, Australia, and her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Politics, with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies, from Columbia University.
“We are excited to welcome Fiona Kanagasingam aboard,” said RWJF president and CEO Rich Besser. “This is a new role at RWJF, and a key moment in our ongoing equity journey. Fiona’s unique blend of analytical, interpersonal, and change management skills will foster and accelerate important changes as we move toward a more equitable Foundation and organizational culture of belonging. Throughout her career Fiona has demonstrated a commitment to the values we embrace as we work to build a Culture of Health with equity at its core. I look forward to working with and learning from her.”