Democratic Practice

Keesha Gaskins to Lead Democratic Practice–United States Grantmaking at the Fund

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is pleased to announce the appointment of Keesha Gaskins as director of the Democratic Practice program's U.S. portfolio. Ms. Gaskins is responsible for program development and grantmaking to advance democratic reforms and other strategic efforts to strengthen the vitality of democracy in the United States.

Previously, Ms. Gaskins served as senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center of Justice and directed its Redistricting and Representation Program. Prior to her work with the Brennan Center, Ms. Gaskins was executive director of the League of Women Voters in Minnesota, where she worked on a wide range of voting rights and civil rights issues, and executive director of the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus. In 2008, she was a Feminist Leadership Fellow with the Center on Women and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Ms. Gaskins worked for several years as a trial attorney, most notably with the firm, Bowman and Brooke, LLC, while also volunteering her time and expertise as a special appellate public defender. She is a frequent lecturer and writer on issues related to women and politics, movement building, and democratic reform and regularly appears on news and public affairs programming, including appearances on PBS’s NewsHour, MSNBC, and Moyers & Company.

Ms. Gaskins holds a joint degree in political science and criminal justice from St. Cloud State University and a doctorate of law from Northeastern University School of Law. She has been admitted to the bar in Minnesota and Massachusetts.

“As a long-time community organizer, advocate, and attorney, Keesha brings a passion for justice and a commitment to improving democracy in the United States,” said Betsy Campbell, the Fund’s vice president for programs. “Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a wide range of skill and accomplishment in grass-roots organizing, coalition building, policy analysis, and strategy development. She knows the field and has a keen sense of how the RBF can contribute to addressing some of the key deficits in American democracy.”

Ms. Gaskins succeeds Benjamin Shute, Jr., who retired after an exceptional career at the Fund spanning 33 years. Mr. Shute led the Democratic Practice program since its inception in 2002. He joined the Fund in 1980, and served as corporate secretary from 1982 until March 2009. From 1992 until 1999 he served as treasurer. He also directed the Fund’s program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector until that program concluded in 2003.