News and analysis
January 02, 2014

Foundations to Watch in 2014

David McGlynn/Splash News/Newscom

Patricia Harris, who served as Michael Bloomberg's deputy mayor in New York, is now his foundation’s leader.

This article is part of our Outlook 2014 package. See more advice and ideas for the year ahead in our special section.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

A non-Microsoft veteran takes the helm

The world’s largest philanthropic organization hired a new chief executive from the ranks of medical research and academe. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco, is the first Gates leader to come from outside Microsoft. She will replace Jeff Raikes, who is retiring in May.

Dr. Desmond-Hellmann will come to the job running the $36.4-billion fund with a background as an oncologist and as a senior executive at Genentech, where she led the development of two of the first gene-targeted therapies for cancer, Avastin and Herceptin.

Ford Foundation

A new leader prepares to take a public role

The Ford Foundation’s new chief executive, Darren Walker, is expected to finish filling out his leadership team at the beginning of 2014. As a sign of his interest in working collaboratively with other foundations and nonprofits, he has agreed to join Independent Sector’s board, says Diana Aviv, the nonprofit coalition’s chief executive. She and others expect to see Mr. Walker take a public role in advancing Ford’s work in economic justice and human rights.

Bloomberg Family Foundation

The charity world anticipates a billionaire’s next act

As Michael Bloomberg leaves his office as mayor of New York, nonprofits are watching with keen interest to see how he and Patricia Harris, who served as his deputy mayor and is now the foundation’s leader, will direct his philanthropic efforts. His focus will probably remain on public-health issues such as smoking cessation and gun control, as well as improving city governments.

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

A big foundation prepares to grow

With its total assets expected to grow well beyond its $4-billion as it sells its real-estate holdings, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is seeking to support new causes in addition to the medical research it has already been supporting. Among the latest it has announced is a $10-million effort to help college students land jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Barr Foundation and James Irvine Foundation

A new hire sets up two foundations for change

The quiet billionaire Amos Barr Hostetter Jr. and his wife, Barbara, stepped into the spotlight four years ago when they declared they were expanding their giving to groups that combat climate change. This year they loosened the reins on their $1.4-billion fund and hired James Canales as their first president. Mr. Canales, who is leaving the James Irvine Foundation in May, will also become a new trustee at Barr. Mr. Canales will work to expand the Boston foundation’s grant making nationally and overseas.

Meanwhile, his departure from Irvine after 10 years leaves many of that $1.7-billion fund’s grantees wondering how his successor will carry out the organization’s mission of supporting youth, arts, and efforts to bolster California’s political process.

Schultz Family Foundation

Starbucks founder gives his philanthropy a boost

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and his wife, Sheri, signaled they are gearing up their philanthropy by hiring Daniel Pitasky, a Gates foundation veteran, in October to run their family foundation. Mr. Pitasky, the grant maker’s first executive director, will be working in 2014 to expand the organization’s efforts to help young people.

Among organizations the Schultz foundation has supported in the past: Jewish Family Service in Seattle, the Robin Hood Foundation, and YouthCare, a Seattle nonprofit that helps homeless young people.

Send an e-mail to Doug Donovan.