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Melissa Berman

President and CEO

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

New York, NY, USA

Melissa Berman
Peter Bergen
BG Partners, LLC
John Bernbach
The Bernbach Group

Melissa Berman’s Biography

Melissa Berman is the founding President and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc., an innovative non-profit philanthropy service launched by the Rockefeller family in 2002.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ mission is to help donors create thoughtful, effective philanthropy throughout the world. RPA develops strategic plans, conducts research, manages foundations and trusts, structures major gifts, coordinates donor collaboratives and provides regranting and fiscal sponsorship services. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors annually facilitates approximately $200 million in giving.

Before her leading role at Rockefeller, Melissa served at the Conference Board, a business research organization, as Senior Vice President for research and program development.

Melissa lectures at Columbia University Business School, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Business in two departments, Management and The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. The latter department focuses on teaching leaders to use their skills to address social and environmental challenges in their careers. As an expert in the field of philanthropy, she has been a guest lecturer at many of the top universities across the world.

A regular public speaker, Melissa has been interviewed or featured in many high-profile US publications and news channels. She is also a member of the International Council of the New Israel Fund.

Melissa graduated with a BA from Harvard University and holds a PhD from Stanford University.

Melissa Berman’s Newsfeed

Associated Press
Corporations become unlikely financiers of racial equity

For some corporations, the pandemic and protests led them to face “the kinds of really difficult social issues” that many had previously preferred not to engage with, said Melissa Berman, CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Berman suggested that some pressure has come from millennial and Generation Z consumers who increasingly want the money they spend and invest to be used in ways consistent with their values. 

Washington Post
Bezos and Bloomberg among top 50 US charity donors for 2020

Giving experts say they think the trend toward broader giving is likely to persist. “I don’t think this approach is just a 12-month moment that started with COVID and continued following George Floyd and is going to recede,” says Melissa Berman, president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which counsels donors around the world. 

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Melissa Berman’s Background

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
President and CEO
New York, NY, USA
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) is a non-profit organization that currently advises on and manages more than $200 million in annual giving by individuals, families, corporations, and major foundations.
The Conference Board
Senior Vice President
New York, NY, USA
The Conference Board, Inc. is a 501 tax-exempt non-profit business membership and research group organization. It counts approximately 1,200 public and private corporations and other organizations as members, encompassing 60 countries.

Current Board Positions

The Foundation Center logo The Foundation Center logo
The Foundation Center
Board Member
New York, NY, USA
Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people with the resources they need to change the world. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants.
The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise logo The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise logo
The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise
Advisory Board
New York, NY, USA
The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise trains the next generation of leaders to address social and environmental challenges.
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East End Cares
East Hampton, NY, USA
East End Cares is a community collaborative supporting the East End of Long Island.


A Message from Melissa A. Berman
Mar 2020
New York, NY, USA
As the COVID-19 lockdown protocol was announced, Melissa offered some suggestions on how individuals and companies can help others through what would be a very difficult time for many people.
As Distrust in Big Philanthropy Grows, Here’s How Leading Foundations Are Demonstrating Their Value
Oct 2019
New York, NY, USA
In this piece for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Melissa Berman discusses the deepening distrust in established institutions and powerful individuals in business, politics, and society and the research her organization, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is doing to ensure philanthropy’s social impact is rooted in accountability, legitimacy, transparency, and public trust.

Academic Appointments

Columbia Business School
Adjunct Professor
New York, NY, USA
Columbia University is one of the world's most important centers of research and at the same time a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields.

Melissa Berman’s Education