In Memoriam: Donald Ross (1943 – 2022)

NEO Philanthropy mourns the loss of Donald Ross, a passionate and persistent champion for the public good, who died on May 14, 2022, following an illness. In 1983, Ross founded Public Interest Projects (PIP), now known as NEO Philanthropy, to support and strengthen social justice movements in the US. Since then, NEO Philanthropy has grown significantly, providing guidance and support as a fiscal sponsor to many nonprofit groups as well as hosting two impactful collaborative funds: the State Infrastructure Fund, which focuses on defending democracy, and the Four Freedoms Fund, which champions immigrant rights and their intersections.

Outside of his work with Public Interest Projects, Ross was a compassionate organizer, strategist, and collaborator. He served as Executive Director for NYPIRG, Director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, Board Chair for Greenpeace, and Co-founder of M+R Strategic Services, among many other influential roles. Throughout his career, Ross helped lay the groundwork for important social justice victories and was known for his mentorship and council to emerging leaders starting their careers in public service.

Michele Lord, President of NEO Philanthropy, spoke about Donald Ross’s impact: “As the founder of PIP, he gave me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.  A couple of years in, he told me to run with PIP and continued to serve as a wise counselor. He watched with pride as we grew. Donald was a great friend, a terrific husband and partner to Helen, and an amazing Dad.”

Ross will be remembered as a generous and committed advocate who pushed for progress, invested in community, and helped others shine. He will be missed.


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