a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Biographies » Adele Simmons

Adele Simmons

Harvard Square Library exists solely on the basis of donations.  If you have benefitted from any of our materials, and/or if making Unitarian Universalist intellectual heritage materials widely available and free is a value to you, please donate whatever you can–every little bit helps: Donate 

Adele SimmonsAdele Simmons is Vice Chair of Chicago Metropolis 2020, a senior advisor to the World Economic Forum, and President of the Global Philanthropy Partnership. Mrs. Simmons was President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation between 1989 and 1999, overseeing grants of over $1.5 billion. The foundation’s international programs focus on the environment, population, international peace and security, understanding inequality within and among nations and climate change.

Since leaving the MacArthur Foundation, Mrs. Simmons has been spending part of her time strengthening the infrastructure of global philanthropy through her work with the Chicago Global Donors Network, the World Economic Forum, the Global Fund for Women, the Synergos Institute, the International Network on Strategic Philanthropy, the World Bank, and the Global Equity Initiative.

Mrs. Simmons is Chair of the Board of the Fair Labor Association, a member of the board of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the Field Museum, the Mexican Fine Arts Museum, Environmental Defense, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Synergos Institute, and Marsh and McLennan. She serves on the advisory committee of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initative, UNRISK and the World Bank Institute. Mrs. Simmons is a founder of Global Chicago.

Prior to joining the MacArthur Foundation, Mrs. Simmons served as President of Hampshire College. She served on presidential commissions on world hunger and the environment, and was a member of the Commission on Global Governance and the UN High Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development.

—Courtesy of the Ethical Advisory Council

From 1989 to 1999, Adele Smith Simmons was the president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the nation’s larges philanthropic foundations. The mission of the MacArthur Foundation, which has assets of $4 billion and makes annual grants of approximately $170 million, is to foster lasting improvement in the human condition. It seeks the development of healthy individuals and effective communities; peace within and among nations; responsible choices about human reproduction; and a global ecosystem capable of supporting healthy human societies. Its grantmaking in the U.S. and abroad is carried out mainly through two integrated programs: The Program on Human and Community Developments supports efforts in the United States aimed at increasing access to economic opportunity, supporting positive development of children, and building community capacity; the Program on Global Security and Sustainability focuses on arms and security, the environment, population, and human rights.

In her tenure at the MacArthur Foundation, Simmons has overseen the distribution of over $1 billion in grants. Major initiatives have included the establishment (with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Pew Trusts) of the Energy Foundation, which supports efforts to increase efficiency through the use of renewable energy, appliance standards, automobile design, and revised building codes permitting the use of newly available materials.

—Courtesy of Princeton University

Recommended Reading

Innovation in Strategic Philanthropy: Local and Global Perspectives edited by Helmut Anheier, Adele Simmons, and David Winder.