Philanthropy

Big Philanthropy Transitions to the Biden Administration

Lots of “expertise” from left-of-center grantmakers.


The presidential-transition teams that Joe Biden announced last week include more than 20 members who are identified as being employed by left-of-center philanthropic foundations or grantmaking entities in America.

George Mason University professor of government Alan Abramson told The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Dan Parks that the list shows that the incoming Biden administration views philanthropy as “a storehouse of knowledge and experts.” Given Big Philanthropy’s monocultural insularity, some concern might be warranted.

Specifically:

  • the team reviewing the Council on Environmental Quality includes Shara Mohtadi of Bloomberg Philanthropies;
  • the Department of Education team includes Emma Vadehra of The Century Foundation;
  • the Energy Department group includes Rhonda Carter of the Marguerite Casey Foundation;
  • the Homeland Security Department lineup includes Nadia Firozvi of The Omidyar Group’s Democracy Fund;
  • the Housing and Urban Development cluster includes Ben J. Winter of the California Community Foundation;
  • the Justice Department team includes James Cadogan of Arnold Ventures and Melanca Clark of the Hudson-Webber Foundation;
  • the State Department’s includes Derek Chollett of the grantmaking German Marshall Fund of the United States, Sarah Cross of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and Ellison Laskowski of the German Marshall Fund;
  • the Interior Department’s includes Janie Hipp of the Native American Agriculture Fund, a private foundation and Molly McUsic of the Wyss Foundation;
  • the Treasury Department’s includes Jay Williams of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving;
  • the team reviewing the Executive Office of the President’s management and administration includes Austin Lin and David Recordon of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI);
  • the international-development lineup is led by Linda Etim of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and includes Bama Athreya of the Laudes Foundation;
  • the National Security Council team also includes CZI’s Lin;
  • the Office of Personnel Management’s is led by Kiran Ahuja of Philanthropy Northwest and includes David Marsh of the Markle Foundation;
  • the Small Business Administration’s includes Michele Chang of Markle;
  • the United States Digital Service’s includes Andrew Nacin of CZI; and, …
  • the U.S. Mission to the United Nations’ includes Michael Pan of the Open Society Foundations.

The teams are peopled by even more members from nonprofit grantees supported by philanthropy, of course. Which might warrant even further concern.

 

This article first appeared in the Giving Review on November 18, 2020.

 

Michael E. Hartmann

Michael E. Hartmann is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Strategic Giving at the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C. He…
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