Ricardo Castro joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 2022, bringing more than 30 years of legal, nonprofit, and philanthropy experience to his position as vice president, general counsel and secretary. As a key member of the Foundation’s leadership team, he advises the president and CEO and Board chair, and through them the Board of Trustees, on legal issues, tax or legislative matters, or regulatory activities that affect or may affect RWJF or its grantees. He views his strong legal background, and his strategic and operational, organizational leadership skills as a “good fit” for the Foundation’s principles and its commitment to building a Culture of Health in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
Previously, Ricardo served as general counsel and secretary of the International Rescue Committee where he was a member of the senior leadership team, with responsibility for the organization’s domestic and international legal affairs.
In his immediately preceding position as general counsel of the Clinton Foundation, he was a member of the senior leadership team with responsibility for the Foundation's global legal affairs. As executive vice president of Consumer Reports, a blue-chip not-for-profit organization, he was a member of the senior leadership team and took the reins of managing a comprehensive change management process involving seven teams dedicated to defining implementable strategic recommendations in areas of critical importance to the transformation of Consumer Reports.
In prior positions at both Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation, he honed his skills in strategic analysis and planning, U.S. and global regulatory compliance, legal and international negotiations, and not-for-profit start-ups and restructuring. Ricardo has developed a reputation in the nonprofit field as an expert in philanthropy, particularly as it pertains to international activities. He has regularly addressed the Georgetown Continuing Legal Education Conference on the topic of managing tax exempt organizations, and he currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law.
As one of his most significant achievements, Ricardo points to his work with Detroit’s “Grand Bargain,” an effort in which a group of philanthropic actors worked collectively to save the Detroit Institute of Arts. This collaboration resulted in the City of Detroit’s transfer of the museum to the not-for-profit that was responsible for its operation, and thereby protected it from being sold to save the city from bankruptcy. The Grand Bargain also minimized the reduction in payments city’s pensioners would have to endure as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. As the Ford Foundation vice president and general counsel, Ricardo worked closely with attorneys countrywide to devise this museum-saving effort.
Ricardo received his JD from the New York University School of Law and his BA from the University of Pennsylvania. He resides in Jersey City, N.J., his birthplace, with his husband, Daniel Light. In his spare time he enjoys film photography and focuses on landscapes and street photography in New York City, and spending quality time with their two very spoiled standard poodles.