Person

Valerie Rockefeller

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Teacher and Philanthropist

Valerie Rockefeller is a member of the Rockefeller political and philanthropic family who is the board chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. She is also the co-chair of BankFWD, a network to encourage banks to divest from conventional energy sources. She is the daughter of former Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and an heiress to the Rockefeller family fortune.

Rockefeller is notable for the decision by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to divest from oil and other fossil fuel investments, even though the Rockefeller fortune had been made from oil. [1] In September 2021, she co-wrote an op-ed with her brothers urging Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. The Rockefellers urged Manchin to support the bill because it would subsidize weather-dependent energy sources such as wind and solar. [2]

Early Life

Valerie Rockefeller is one of three children of former U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). She and her siblings were born and lived in southern West Virginia, which was a poor coal mining area. She is an heiress to the Rockefeller fortune, made in the early days of the oil industry. [3]

Rockefeller majored in international relations at Stanford University. She then got a master’s degree in special education at the Bank Street College of Education and another in secondary social studies from Columbia University. She worked for the U.S. Department of Education in the first term of the Clinton Administration. [4]

Rockefeller began her teaching career at Central Park East Secondary School in East Harlem, New York. She also taught in Australia. [5]

Philanthropy

In an interview with the National Center for Family Philanthropy, Rockefeller claimed that while working as a teacher in New York, Rockefeller first learned about the Rockefeller Brothers Fund from a teaching colleague. At the time, the program paid for the graduate school education and supported the entry of a minority into the teaching profession in New York City. [6]

Rockefeller was later elected to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund board. She was eventually elected chair of the board. [7]

As a board member, she led the effort to divest the fund’s holdings from conventional energy. That money was used to invest in less reliable and weather-dependent sources of energy such as wind and solar. In January 2021, the fund stated that its alternative energy investments had an average annual performance of 7.8 percent versus the benchmark of 6.7 percent. [8]

Rockefeller also approved a far-left critical race theory inspired “diversity, equity, and inclusion” statement for the fund, stating that Rockefeller Brothers Fund preferred to invest in funds and donate to organizations run by women and racial minorities. [9]

During her tenure, Rockefeller steered the organization away from past priorities such as education and instead began to prioritize “sustainable development.” [10]

In 2022, she was appointed the chair of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. [11]

Climate Change Activism

Rockefeller is the co-chair BankFWD, a campaign that encourages banks to divest and not fund any fossil fuel projects. [12]

In September 2021, she co-authored an op-ed for CNN with her brothers to urge Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) to support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, in part because the bill would subsidize less reliable, weather-dependent energy sources such as wind and solar. [13]

References

  1. “10 Questions For Valerie Rockefeller.” Swiss Life Group. January 2, 2021. https://www.swisslife.com/en/home/hub/interview-valerie-rockefeller.html. ^
  2. Rockefeller, Justin, Valerie Rockefeller, and John D. Rockefeller V. “Opinion: Rockefellers Have A Message For Joe Manchin.” CNN. Sept. 26, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/26/opinions/manchin-reconciliation-climate-change-rockefeller/index.html. ^
  3. 10 Questions For Valerie Rockefeller.” Swiss Life Group. January 2, 2021. https://www.swisslife.com/en/home/hub/interview-valerie-rockefeller.html. ^
  4. “ Valerie Rockefeller.” Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Accessed March 14, 2022. https://www.rbf.org/people/valerie-rockefeller. ^
  5. “Valerie Rockefeller.” Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Accessed March 14, 2022. https://www.rbf.org/people/valerie-rockefeller. ^
  6. Tedesco, Nicholas. “Family Philanthropy Speaks: A Conversation With Valerie Rockefeller.” National Center for Family Philanthropy. April 30, 2021. https://www.ncfp.org/2021/04/30/family-philanthropy-speaks-a-conversation-with-valerie-rockefeller/. ^
  7. Tedesco, Nicholas. “Family Philanthropy Speaks: A Conversation With Valerie Rockefeller.” National Center for Family Philanthropy. April 30, 2021. https://www.ncfp.org/2021/04/30/family-philanthropy-speaks-a-conversation-with-valerie-rockefeller/. ^
  8. “10 Questions For Valerie Rockefeller.” Swiss Life Group. January 2, 2021. https://www.swisslife.com/en/home/hub/interview-valerie-rockefeller.html. ^
  9. “10 Questions For Valerie Rockefeller.” Swiss Life Group. January 2, 2021. https://www.swisslife.com/en/home/hub/interview-valerie-rockefeller.html. ^
  10. Tedesco, Nicholas. “Family Philanthropy Speaks: A Conversation With Valerie Rockefeller.” National Center for Family Philanthropy. April 30, 2021. https://www.ncfp.org/2021/04/30/family-philanthropy-speaks-a-conversation-with-valerie-rockefeller/. ^
  11. “Valerie Rockefeller New Board Chair Of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.” Alliance Magazine. Jan. 21, 2022. https://www.alliancemagazine.org/blog/valerie-rockefeller-new-board-chair-of-rockefeller-philanthropy-advisors/. ^
  12. “Valerie Rockefeller.” Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Accessed March 14, 2022. https://www.rbf.org/people/valerie-rockefeller. ^
  13. Rockefeller, Justin, Valerie Rockefeller, and John D. Rockefeller V. “Opinion: Rockefellers Have A Message For Joe Manchin.” CNN. Sept. 26, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/26/opinions/manchin-reconciliation-climate-change-rockefeller/index.html ^
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