Brent Thompson helps to advance the Foundation’s efforts to build a healthier, more equitable America through strategic communications. He works with RWJF’s Healthy Children and Families group as well as the Foundation’s New Jersey grantmaking program. Earlier in his career at RWJF, he developed and led national campaigns to support expansion of health care coverage, more supportive environments for children experiencing trauma, and the healthy development of infants and toddlers. Thompson has managed numerous opinion research initiatives, including focus groups and polling, to gain insights related to the Foundation’s strategies and mission. In addition to his communications roles, Thompson serves as RWJF’s program officer for grants to support greater effectiveness, transparency, and equity in the philanthropic sector.
Before joining RWJF, Thompson spent nearly a decade as director of communications at the William Penn Foundation (WPF), a $2 billion philanthropy advancing the quality of life in Greater Philadelphia through strategic grantmaking in the environment, children’s futures, and the arts. In addition to serving as WPF’s chief communicator, he worked with program staff to make effective communications investments and provided technical assistance to a wide range of grantees. Thompson was one of the leaders of WPF’s journalism grantmaking team that helped to establish several public interest news operations in the region. While at WPF, he was also an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching marketing and communications for nonprofit organizations at the Fels Institute, Penn’s graduate public policy program.
Earlier in his career, Thompson served as chief of staff and communications manager at the American Red Cross in Philadelphia. There, he helped to secure state and local funding streams to create Red Cross House, the nation’s first transitional living facility for low-income disaster victims, located in West Philadelphia. Before that, he managed programs on Middle East peace and security at Search for Common Ground, a Washington-based non-governmental organization specializing in global and domestic conflict resolution.
Thompson is a fellow in the Lead New Jersey program, and a board member of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia. From 2005 through 2011, Thompson was a trustee of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, serving in a variety of leadership roles, including vice chair. He has also been a volunteer at a free health clinic in Washington, D.C., and with his hometown United Way, where he was named volunteer of the year in 2008.
Thompson earned an MPA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from Drew University. He is married with two daughters. In his free time, he can often be found exploring the rivers, forests, and lakes of New Jersey’s extraordinary Pinelands region with his family.