In Conversation with Judith Rodin

On October 9, 2013, Jonathan sat down with Rockefeller Foundation President and former President of Penn University, Judith Rodin, to talk about her life and career. Judith began by speaking at length on the Rockefeller Foundation’s current “100 Resilient Cities” initiative. The video can be viewed here.

Judith Rodin

October 9, 2013

Good evening.  I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.  It is my special pleasure to welcome you to a conversation with Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin.

I say ‘special pleasure’ because Judy Rodin and I have known each other for forty years.  When I was running an experimental summer term at Yale I recruited the best faculty to teach and Judy was my choice from psychology.  With a psychology degree from Penn and a Ph.D. from Columbia, she was one of Yale’s most popular teachers and productive scholars.   After serving as Dean of the Graduate School and Provost she then became President of the University of Pennsylvania where she did an extraordinary job, lifting Penn from 16th to 4th in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, doubling the research funding, tripling the endowment, making Penn a leader in adopting new technology in teaching and research, transforming the physical campus and whole sections of West Philadelphia.

And then on to the Rockefeller Foundation which brought us back together as colleagues when I was President of the MacArthur Foundation.  Judy had chaired one of MacArthur’s major international research networks looking at health-promoting and health-damaging behavior and also contributed to MacArthur’s work on healthy aging.

She is one of the very best foundation presidents I know leading Rockefeller’s in innovative solutions to critical problems with a special focus on secure food, water, housing, global health, sustainable growth and climate change resilience.  I am particularly interested in Rockefeller’s attention to the challenge of fast-growing cities and its concern for Africa.

Judy Rodin has phenomenal energy.  She has authored more than 200 academic articles, written or co-written twelve books, speaks around the world at leadership fora, serves on several corporate boards as well as boards like Carnegie Hall.  And she was a member of President Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology.

For all her fame and accomplishment, Judith Rodin has her feet on the ground, is approachable, cares deeply about people, and is a steadfast and loyal friend.

So we have a lot to talk about tonight.  President Rodin will start with opening remarks, then she and I will have a conversation, and then open the floor to your questions.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Judith Rodin.

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