Vulcan hired an experienced philanthropic executive as chief financial officer to help the multifaceted business and philanthropic entity advance on the vision Paul Allen left for his empire.
John Bernstein was most recently the chief operating officer of the Ford Foundation, the philanthropy established in 1936 by Edsel Ford, son of automaker Henry Ford. With more than $13.8 billion in assets at the end of 2017, the New York-based foundation is second in size only to the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among U.S. philanthropies.
Bernstein, who began Jan. 2 at Vulcan, leads both its finance and information technology departments. Bernstein said in a statement: “Vulcan’s diverse philanthropic portfolio, and the fact that its commercial divisions directly fuel its mission, present significant growth opportunities to make a positive difference in the world.”
Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf called Bernstein “an extremely well-regarded leader in finance and philanthropy, having shaped much of Ford Foundation’s operational systems to align with its values.”
Bernstein’s appointment gives two glimpses into the evolution of the Allen empire and philanthropic mission since his death Oct. 15, 2018. Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, technology and real estate investor, art and memorabilia collector, and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, pledged to give away the majority of his wealth, estimated at more than $20 billion.
Vulcan’s news release on Bernstein’s hiring mentions the Allen Philanthropic Initiatives that are focused “on solving some of the world’s biggest challenges facing oceans, climate, conservation and communities.” That’s a new name — but not a separate entity, a spokeswoman said — that refers to a philanthropic portfolio encompassing technology, strategic grants, advocacy and storytelling.
Hilf said Bernstein’s experience will help Vulcan “make and leave the world a better place,” which is the organization’s new mission, the spokeswoman said.