Our founder, Jeff Skoll, is profiled in the current issue of Forbes Magazine. It’s a wide-ranging article that talks about the creation of the Skoll Foundation, with its focus on social entrepreneurship, and the later formation of Participant Media (read the sidebar piece here) and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. It provides great insight into Jeff’s view of the world and why he does the work he does. A good read. Check it out here.
Photo credit: Jeff Minton for Forbes
Several of our Skoll Global Threats Fund team accompanied Jeff Skoll on a trip to Israel and Palestine earlier this month. The main objectives of the trip were to visit our grantees in the region, assess prospects for peace, and explore both double-bottom-line business opportunities and philanthropic ways to engage constructively in the region. We spent a little over a week there, visiting Skoll Global Threats Fund and Skoll Foundation grantees and speaking with representatives from the business community (including a number of tech startups), civil society and government on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Through the Skoll Foundation and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, Jeff has engaged philanthropically in Israel and Palestine for a number of years, and the trip afforded an opportunity to touch base with several of the groups the two entities work with, including Friends of the Earth Middle East (see photo below), Sadara Ventures, OneVoice, Partners for Sustainable Development, the New Israel Fund and the Telos Group. We also had an opportunity to meet with a range of other civil society players working on issues ranging from economic development to women’s empowerment to nonviolence.
Jeff and our president, Larry Brilliant, had been invited to come to Israel earlier this year by Israeli President Shimon Peres, and they met and had a wide ranging conversation with the President. The group also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad to get his assessment of current economic and political challenges in the region, including on the peace process. With Prime Minister Fayyad, we had a chance to discuss the upcoming film from Jeff’s media company, Participant Media, that focuses on the state-building efforts of the Palestinian Authority over the last several years.
All in all, an action-packed and extremely informative set of meetings that provided us a good sense of the complexities and challenges of working in this region at this moment of time.
Jeff Skoll and Larry Brilliant meet with the team from Friends of the Earth Middle East, a 2009 recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation, in their Tel Aviv office.
(WASHINGTON- May 23, 2012)—Innovative, driven, results-oriented. These are just a few words that describe Jeff Skoll, recipient of Independent Sector’s 2012 John W. Gardner Leadership Award. IS will honor Jeff for his outstanding and innovative leadership in promoting a sustainable world of peace and prosperity at the 2012 Independent Sector Annual Conference on November 12 in San Francisco.
The first full-time employee and first president of eBay, Jeff Skoll was connecting individuals and creating social networks long before Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter became household names. Jeff’s first independent philanthropic venture was the Skoll Foundation. Since its creation in 1999, the Skoll Foundation has been a catalytic force in social entrepreneurship, investing in 91 social entrepreneurs and 74 organizations across five continents. Jeff credits the Foundation’s strategic focus to a meeting with John W. Gardner, after whom the award is named. Gardner advised Jeff and Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg to “bet on good people doing good things.” Some of the Foundation’s signature programs include the annual Skoll World Forum and the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship.
“Jeff’s vision and dedication to social impact and mobilization are apparent in everything he has accomplished,” said Bernard J. Milano, president and trustee of KPMG Foundation and chair of the 2012 John W. Gardner Leadership Award Committee. “His multi-faceted approach to galvanizing people to action and bringing attention to our world’s most challenging social issues should be an inspiration to us all.”
Jeff also created Participant Media in 2004 to harness the power of entertainment to inform and inspire viewers about social issues. Participant Media has produced over 40 feature films and documentaries that have collectively garnered dozens of major award nominations and won six Academy Awards. Some of Participant Media’s game-changing films include An Inconvenient Truth, The Kite Runner, The Cove, The Help, Waiting for Superman, Contagion, and Syriana. Participant Media teams up with social sector organizations, nonprofits, and corporations to create specific social action campaigns for each film and documentary, designed to help audiences channel their interest into action. To date, Participant has developed active, working relationships with 600 nonprofits, collectively reaching over 75 million people. In 2008, Jeff created the digital division of Participant Media, called TakePart, anchored by a website that engages people in the major issues that shape their lives.
“Jeff Skoll is a true ‘GameChanger’ and we are thrilled to honor a visionary so committed to using his talent and resources to improve the lives of others,” said Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “As John Gardner had such a profound impact on Jeff’s desire to make a difference in the long-term issues facing humanity, it is particularly gratifying to see the breadth of Jeff’s contributions acknowledged with this award. I have no doubt that we will all continue to benefit from Jeff’s passion and transformative thinking for many, many years to come.”
Most recently, Jeff created the Skoll Global Threats Fund, which focuses on responding quickly to events that threaten the world’s health and stability. Jeff has also signed the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet pledge to give away the majority of his wealth. He has already donated over $1.2 billion and sets an example to other wealthy individuals who have the capacity to transform and improve our communities.
“As a game-changer, John Gardner was in a class by himself,” remarked Jeff Skoll. “His wisdom inspired my pursuit of large-scale change. I’m deeply humbled and grateful to have been selected for this year’s John Gardner Leadership Award from Independent Sector.”
Jeff was born in Montreal and grew up in Toronto. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Stanford University.
The award is named after John W. Gardner, the founding chair of Independent Sector. An advisor to six presidents and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Gardner was an active and distinguished participant in America’s educational, philanthropic, and political life, and his many achievements demonstrate the ideals this award celebrates. The award is generously supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundations and includes a replica of an original bust of John Gardner by the late sculptor Frederick Hart. To learn more about the John W. Gardner Award, visit: IndependentSector.org/Gardner_Leadership_Award
Independent Sector is a leadership network of 600 nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs committed to advancing the common good. Our nonpartisan coalition leads, strengthens, and mobilizes the sector; we advocate for public policies that fortify our communities; and we create unparalleled resources so staff, boards, and volunteers can further their missions and increase their impact. IndependentSector.org