Lee Wasserman


Director, Rockefeller Family Fund

Former Adviser, Pew Charitable Trusts


1958 (age 61), Schenectady, NY



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Lee Wasserman is an American nonprofit executive and environmental policymaker. He is the current Director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, a leading financial supporter of environmentalist organizations. Wasserman’s career has primarily revolved around environmentalist work, and he previously worked as executive director for the Environmental Advocates of New York and as a past president and current board member of the Environmental Federation of New York. 1

Early Life

Lee Wasserman was born and raised in Schenectady, New York. He attended Schenectady High School and completed his undergraduate education at Union College, also located in Schenectady. He graduated from Albany Law School and later, received the “1993 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award” from his alma mater. 2


He began his career as a political operative, working for the late Speaker of the New York State Assembly Stanley Fink (D-Brooklyn), and as a member of Republican Governor George Pataki’s transition team. 3

He then transitioned into environmental work, serving as Executive Director for the Environmental Advocates of New York from 1988-1995. 4 He then worked as an advisor to the Pew Charitable Trusts, assisting the head of its environmental program on a series of projects in the late 1990s. 5

In 1996, Wasserman unsuccessfully ran for Congress in New York’s 21st Congressional District as a candidate for the Liberal Party of New York one of New York’s state-level third parties. 6 The party has a left-of-center platform and boasts of being “the first political party in America to support a woman’s Right to Choose” while condemning the “erosion” of liberal principles begun by former President Ronald Reagan. 7

In 1999, Wasserman was appointed as the executive director and secretary of the Rockefeller Family Fund. He remains executive director as of June 2019. 8

In 2016, Wasserman announced that the Fund would cease investing and sell its holdings in companies that produce conventional energy. In a New York Review of Books article announcing the decision Wasserman noted that “In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created.” 9

Political Activity

Despite running as a third-party candidate in his 1996 Congressional election, Wasserman has frequently donated to Democratic candidates. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wasserman has donated to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), and former President Barack Obama. 10

Since Wasserman took over as director, Rockefeller Family Fund employees have made reportable contributions of $156,615 to Democrats and $0 to Republicans as of June 2019. 11

In a New York Times article, Wasserman strongly opposed Republican attempts at trying to combat climate change with carbon dividends. 12

Personal Life

Wasserman has two children, Rebecca and Jacob, and one step-child, Daphne. In 2001, Carol, his wife of 15 years, passed away of a brain tumor. 13 He remarried in 2003 to Melissa Dubroff.


  1. “Lee Wasserman.” Scholars Strategy Network. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  2. “Lee Wasserman.” Scholars Strategy Network. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  3. “Lee Wasserman.” Scholars Strategy Network. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  4. “Lee Wasserman.” Scholars Strategy Network. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  5. “Lee Wasserman.” HuffPost. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  7. “Brief History and Platform of the Liberal Party.” Liberal Party of New York. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  8. “Lee Wasserman.” HuffPost. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  9. Wasserman, Lee, and David Kaiser. “The Rockefeller Family Fund Vs. Exxon.” The New York Review of Books. Accessed July 22, 2019.
  10. “Lee Wasserman.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 07, 2019. Wasserman&type=donors.
  11. “Rockefeller Family Fund: Total Contributions.” Accessed June 07, 2019.
  12. Schwartz, John. “New Group, With Conservative Credentials, Plans Push for a Carbon Tax.” The New York Times. June 19, 2018. Accessed June 07, 2019.
  13. Henderson, Stephen. “Melissa Dubroff and Lee Wasserman.” The New York Times. August 24, 2003. Accessed June 07, 2019.
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