Wyss Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $57,150,635
Expenses: $55,919,510
Assets: $2,116,028,200



Founder and Chair:

Hansjorg Wyss


Molly McUsic

The Wyss Foundation is a private foundation established in 1998 by Swiss billionaire and former Synthes CEO Hansjorg Wyss, an environmentalist activist and former CEO of the controversial medical device manufacturer Synthes.[1] The private foundation, based in Washington, D.C., states that it is “dedicated to supporting innovative, lasting solutions that improve lives, empower communities, and strengthen connections to the land.”[2] According to the foundation’s 2017 tax forms, it reported total assets of $2.5 billion and $38 million in grants awarded that year.[3]

History and Mission

In 1998, Hansjorg Wyss established the Wyss Foundation to help ensure land conservation in the American West. The foundation states that its mission is “to [support] innovative, lasting solutions that improve lives, empower communities, and strengthen connections to the land.”[4] The foundation highlights a lifetime total of $175 million grants have been awarded to “help local communities, land trusts, and non-profit partners conserve nearly 14 million acres in the West for future generations.”[5]

In 2013, Hansjorg Wyss’ second foundation, the HJW Foundation, was dissolved and merged into the Wyss Foundation, transferring over $283 million in assets.[6]


The Wyss Foundation categorizes its philanthropic investments in three areas: Land, Communities, and Discovery. In the foundation’s 2013 tax returns, over $19 million in grants were awarded.

In 2016, the Wyss Foundation’s more notable gifts included three grants, totaling over $1 million, in support of civic participation; grants were in support of projects aimed at helping local and state governments provide voter registration services and studying why people choose not to vote.[7]

Financial Documents

The Wyss Foundation’s IRS Form 990 filing for 2017 is available here.

Board and Key Staff

Hansjorg Wyss is the chairman and principal funder of the Wyss Foundation, providing $35 million to the Foundation in 2017.[8] Wyss made his fortune as the CEO of medical device manufacturer Synthes, which was bought in 2012 by Johnson and Johnson.[9] In 2009, Synthes faced 52 felony counts stemming from allegations that it illegally experimented on patients, three of whom died.[10] The alleged conduct occurred from 2001 to 2004, in which patients were injected with the company’s bone-cement product, Norian, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s refusal to approve the product. Four high-ranking executives pleaded guilty for the company’s crime of running unauthorized trials and promoting the product for unapproved uses, without conceding that they were involved in the crime. Wyss was not charged.[11]

The Wyss Foundation website does not list staff or board members, but according to the Foundation’s 2013 IRS informational return, the following individuals serve on the board and staff:[12]

  • Hansjorg Wyss serves as chairman.
  • John Leshy is the foundation’s vice chairman.
  • Joseph Fisher serves as treasurer.
  • Molly McUsic is the Wyss Foundation president.
  • Mary Killingsworth is the foundation’s vice president.

Current staff, including president Molly McUsic and vice chairman John Leshy, previously served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, respectively. Past and current consultants have also been connected to high-level positions of the Obama administration.[13]


  1. “Alumni.” Hansjörg Wyss, MBA 1965 – Alumni – Harvard Business School. Accessed December 17, 2016. ^
  2. “About the Wyss Foundation.” Wyss Foundation. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^
  3. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Wyss Foundation. 2017. Schedule A. Archived here: ^
  4. “About the Wyss Foundation.” Wyss Foundation. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^
  5. “Philanthropy.” Wyss Foundation. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^
  6. Foundation Center. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^
  7. “Wyss Foundation Awards $1 Million for Civic Participation.” Philanthropy News Digest. 2016. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^
  8. Wyss Foundation, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2017, Schedule B ^
  9. “Hansjorg Wyss Net Worth.” TheRichest. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^
  10. Kimes, Mina. “Bad to the bone: A medical horror story.” September 18, 2012. Accessed December 17, 2016. ^
  11. Kimes, Mina. “Bad to the bone: A medical horror story.” September 18, 2012. Accessed December 17, 2016. ^
  12. Foundation Center. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^
  13. Phil Taylor, E&E reporter Greenwire: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, The Cutting Edge: Friday, December 16, 2016, OnPoint: Thursday December 15 2016, and OnPoint: Monday December 12 2016. “PUBLIC LANDS: ‘Quietly philanthropic’ tycoon makes his mark in the West.” PUBLIC LANDS: ‘Quietly philanthropic’ tycoon makes his mark in the West — Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Accessed December 18, 2016. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Molly McUsic
  2. Anna Fink
    Former Program Director

Donation Recipients

  1. American Rivers (Non-profit)
  2. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (Non-profit)
  3. Center for American Progress (CAP) (Non-profit)
  4. Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) (Non-profit)
  5. Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) (Non-profit)
  6. Center for Working Families (Non-profit)
  7. Constitutional Accountability Center (Non-profit)
  8. Defenders of Wildlife (Non-profit)
  9. Demos (Non-profit)
  10. Earthjustice (formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) (Non-profit)
  11. Earthworks (Non-profit)
  12. Environment America Research and Policy Center (Non-profit)
  13. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) (Non-profit)
  14. Leadership Conference Education Fund (Non-profit)
  15. National Employment Law Project (NELP) (Non-profit)
  16. National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) (Non-profit)
  17. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Non-profit)
  18. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Non-profit)
  19. NEO Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  20. New Venture Fund (NVF) (Non-profit)
  21. North Carolina Justice Center (Non-profit)
  22. Oceana (Non-profit)
  23. Project Vote (Non-profit)
  24. Resources Legacy Fund (Non-profit)
  25. Rockefeller Family Fund (Non-profit)
  26. Sierra Club Foundation (Non-profit)
  27. Sixteen Thirty Fund (1630 Fund) (Non-profit)
  28. Small Business Majority (Non-profit)
  29. State Voices (Non-profit)
  30. Sustainable Markets Foundation (Non-profit)
  31. Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (Non-profit)
  32. Tides Center (Non-profit)
  33. Trout Unlimited (Non-profit)
  34. Trust for Public Land (Non-profit)
  35. U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) Education Fund (Non-profit)
  36. Washington Center for Equitable Growth (Non-profit)
  37. Western Conservation Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. Western Organization of Resource Councils (Non-profit)
  39. Western Organization of Resource Councils Education Project (Non-profit)
  40. WildEarth Guardians (Non-profit)
  41. Wilderness Society (Non-profit)
  42. Women’s Refugee Commission (Non-profit)
  43. World Wildlife Fund (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1999

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form PF $57,150,635 $55,919,510 $2,116,028,200 $163,805 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $152,221,366 $103,642,924 $2,069,270,007 $144,240 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $213,267,457 $22,971,090 $2,025,050,963 $97,638 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $1,257,670,048 $18,281,633 $1,550,810,019 $62,837 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $191,837,933 $16,615,987 $311,428,065 $69,298 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Wyss Foundation

    WASHINGTON, DC 20009-1055