Congratulations to my dear friend and partner Barbara Picower as she transitions into her new role as President Emerita at the JPB Foundation. I am grateful for her enduring legacy and inspired by her vision and willingness to “meet the moment”—qualities that model the best of what philanthropy can be.
Barbara has always been clear: “The work… is not about me. It’s about what people need.” And yet, philanthropy has needed her—her compassion, humility, and innovative spirit—to advance an ambitious agenda spanning decades and touching millions of lives.
She has been fearless in her mission to empower those living in poverty, advance racial justice, address critical environmental issues, and support pioneering medical research. She is unafraid to think bigger, act bolder, and take risks, unwavering in her trust of grantees’ expertise.
She was ahead of her time in providing long-term general support to grantees, and her philanthropy is as agile as it is abiding. In the early days of the pandemic, Barbara committed close to $100 million above and beyond her foundation’s annual funding in emergency response. JPB joined the Ford Foundation and other leading philanthropies to launch the Families and Workers Fund, distributing emergency cash relief to hundreds of thousands of workers and investing in more resilient job pathways.
Through innovative grantmaking, Barbara has developed a supportive grantee-funder ecosystem that encourages organizations to act as true partners. Her belief in the power of the collective has put her at the forefront of funder collaboratives with an enormous impact on women’s rights, racial justice, immigrant rights, and more.
I know Barbara’s successor, Deepak Bhargava, shares her belief that no problem is too entrenched or unwieldy to solve. And with Barbara close by and Deepak at the helm, my Ford Foundation colleagues and I look forward to years of continued collaboration.