Brent Thompson leads strategic communications for RWJF’s programmatic efforts to help build a Culture of Health where young children have access to the social and emotional building blocks for lifelong well-being; where everyone in America has access to high quality health care; and where all children—regardless of who they are or where they live—have the opportunity to grow up at a healthy weight. Thompson is driven by the belief that achieving these goals will make our society more prosperous, equitable, and healthy.
In addition to his communications role, Thompson serves as program officer on the Foundation’s grants to support the infrastructure of the philanthropic sector. He also manages several grants related to public interest journalism. Before joining the Foundation, 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 cross-functional media grantmaking team that helped to establish several public interest news operations in the region. While at WPF, he was also an adjunct professor 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 board member of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, and serves on conference committees for Independent Sector and the Communications Network. 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 young daughters. In his free time, he can often be found exploring southern New Jersey’s extraordinary Pinelands region with his family.