Africa: The Skoll Foundation Announces New CEO Donald H. Gips

Donald Gips, CEO of the Skoll Foundation and former U.S. ambassador to South Africa.
press release

Palo Alto — The Skoll Foundation Board of Directors today announced the appointment of a new CEO: former Ambassador to South Africa Donald H. Gips. With a diverse career spanning public service, business, politics, finance, and technology, Gips brings a depth and breadth of experience to both sustain and elevate the Skoll Foundation’s work supporting social entrepreneurship to create lasting global social impact.

“Don Gips is an exceptional leader who will bring global insight, proven relationship‐building capacity, diverse professional experiences, and impeccable character to the Skoll Foundation,” said Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation. “Don has been trusted and tested at the highest levels of the public and private sectors. From his early days as one of the architects of AmeriCorps to his current work across the African continent, Don’s focus has evolved but his passion for service has never wavered. I am confident that Don will lead the Skoll Foundation forward in important new ways.”

Gips comes to the Skoll Foundation from the Washington, D.C.‐based Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) where he leads the firm’s Africa Practice. At ASG, he consults with companies, entrepreneurs, and foundations investing across Africa and other emerging markets in efforts ranging from renewable energy and digital technologies to gender parity and food security.

Previously, he served as Director of Presidential Personnel in the Obama White House, where he directed the Obama Administration’s effort to vet and select 3,000‐plus political appointments from a pool of over 400,000 applicants. Gips’ leadership ushered in the most diverse administration in U.S. history. After that, he served as U.S. Ambassador to South Africa where he managed more than 1,000 staff and a budget over $600 million across multiple government agencies.

One of Gips’s earliest professional experiences was helping design and create a $650 million start‐up government corporation to promote community service. This eventually became the AmeriCorps program, still operational today. He also served the Clinton Administration as Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Al Gore and Chief of the International Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission.

Early in Gips’s career, he was the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship, awarded to recognize leadership potential. He developed a clean water project with Sarvodaya, a leading social enterprise, and managed a refugee camp in Sri Lanka.

Gips has extensive experience in business and finance having served as Group Vice President of Global Corporate Development for Level 3 Communications and Management Consultant to Fortune 500 companies at McKinsey & Company. He sits on a number of boards, including: Zayo Group, a fiber and internet infrastructure service provider that has grown from start‐up to publicly listed leader; Liquid Telecommunication, a Pan‐African provider of fiber and telecommunications services led by Strive Masiyiwa, one of Africa’s preeminent entrepreneurs and philanthropists; and the President’s Council on International Affairs at Yale University.

Gips received an MBA from the Yale School of Management where he was honored as a Donaldson Fellow and received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with honors. He is married to Elizabeth (Liz) Berry Gips. Liz leads education programs for Village Health Works, an organization dedicated to bringing health care and development to rural Burundi. Currently she is leading the establishment of the Kigutu International Academy, a transformative secondary school that will produce a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders for Burundi. Liz and Don have three grown sons: Sam, Peter and Ben Gips.

“I am deeply humbled to join the Skoll Foundation team at this critical juncture of the organization’s growth, and at a time when the complexity of the world’s most pressing problems demands innovative, sustainable solutions,” said Gips. “This is a full circle return to where my career began: exploring how unconventional approaches can unlock societal potential and solve problems. I welcome the challenge to build upon this organization’s incredible legacy and accelerate progress toward a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous world.”

Leadership of the Skoll Foundation will transition from interim president Richard Fahey to Don Gips effective April 9, 2019 where Gips will attend and participate in the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, the premier international platform for advancing entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, we want to thank Richard Fahey for his interim leadership while we completed this search,” said Skoll.

To date, the Skoll Foundation has invested approximately $512 million worldwide, including the Skoll Award to 128 social entrepreneurs and 106 organizations on five continents.

About the Skoll Foundation

Jeff Skoll created the Skoll Foundation in 1999 to pursue his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. Our mission is to drive truly transformative change—equilibrium change—by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents, creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better. By identifying the people and programs already bringing positive change around the world, we empower them to extend their reach, deepen their impact, and fundamentally improve society. Learn more at

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