RBF Names Joseph Pierson New Chair of the Board of Trustees

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) announced today that Joseph Pierson, a fifth-generation member of the Rockefeller family and grandson of RBF co-founder Nelson A. Rockefeller, has been elected chair of its Board of Trustees.

Mr. Pierson is the founder and president of Cypress Films, Inc., a New York-based independent production company. Over his 35-year career as a filmmaker, Mr. Pierson has directed and produced several award-winning feature and television films. His most recent film, What's This Country Called Now?, a dramatic short about the Siege of Sarajevo starring Zrinka Cvitešić and Rade Šerbedžija, won awards for Best Short and Best of the Festival at the 2020 East Europe International Film Festival, Best Featurette at the 2021 Gold Movie Awards in London, and Best Short at the 2022 Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival in New York. Mr. Pierson also produced and directed Pocantico: David Rockefeller Remembers, a documentary about the Rockefellers’ ancestral home, and EvenHand, a dramatic feature film shot on location in San Antonio.

"Joseph has long been a critical contributor to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund: immersing himself in our grantmaking programs, lending his talents to the evolution of The Pocantico Center, and providing a vital link between the family and the Fund,” said Stephen Heintz, RBF president and CEO. “His inexhaustibly curious mind, keen artistic eye, and penchant for relationship-building are critical assets to the Fund, so we are thrilled to see him step into the role of chair.”

Joseph Pierson first served on the board of the RBF in 1994 and has since served four separate terms for a total of 23 years. His most recent term as trustee began in June 2021. Mr. Pierson also previously served as president of Abeyton Lodge, a not-for-profit corporation established by members of the fourth and fifth Rockefeller generations to manage family philanthropic, business, and social affairs and gatherings, and as chairman of the Fort Tryon Park Trust, established by John D. Rockefeller in the 1920s.

“The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has evolved into a unique partnership between family and nonfamily trustees,” said Mr. Pierson. “Our ability to attract people with broad domestic and international interests and expertise across the full spectrum of our programs has strengthened our work in support of democracy, peacebuilding, sustainable development, and the arts. I am honored to assume a leadership role at the RBF and look forward to engaging with Stephen Heintz, the board, and the RBF’s exceptional staff to advance human rights, democratic practice, and environmental stewardship.”

As chair, Mr. Pierson replaces Valerie Rockefeller, who served from 2013 to 2022.

The Fund also elected two new trustees at its 2022 annual meeting: Theodore Spencer, a fifth-generation member of the Rockefeller family who works as a policy and advocacy advisor to environmental organizations, and Peter Beinart, a columnist and professor of journalism and political science at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

RBF trustees serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. The trustees set strategic goals for the Fund, monitor its philanthropic activities, and determine major policies governing the management of its finances and operations. RBF trustees have extensive expertise and experience in the Fund’s program areas, as well as foreign relations, finance, and philanthropy.