About Us

We are a high-impact venture philanthropy fund investing in the rapid transition to a clean energy future.

Similar to investors building a venture capital portfolio, we invest our grants in a portfolio of organizations poised to create an outsized impact on carbon emissions and climate change. We work in partnership internationally with like-minded foundations and nonprofit partners as well as academic and policy research institutions.

Our mission is to catalyze a rapid transformation of our electricity system to clean, renewable sources. We believe that this transformation is the key to avert the catastrophic effects of global climate change, and that it is achievable. Working with innovative partners in key geographies, we create real and measurable impact.

We are dedicated not only to protecting our world from climate change, but to doing so while maintaining a workplace that values leadership, diversity, and family. Learn more in our credo.

Our Team

The Board
About Us
Paul Growald
Cofounder

Paul Growald is an entrepreneur and venture philanthropist with a life-long passion for building organizations that support and catalyze social change.

Paul’s first job was managing public communications for Stanford University biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. Paul established The Food Bank,  an organization that collected non-marketable produce and canned goods from California’s growers and food processors, for distribution to those in need. This role expanded to encompass initiatives that supported a Community Garden, Farmer’s Market, and child nutrition initiatives like Summer Lunch Programs, WIC & Food Stamp outreach.

In 1977 Paul was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as one of the first public members of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Two of the more impactful highlights from his tenure were the Department’s enactment of farmer-to-consumer direct marketing regulations and comprehensive pesticide safety regulations that remain foundational in California today.

Starting in 1980, Paul expanded into business when he recognized that there was a market for acquiring broadcasting licenses for radio frequencies which were not being utilized, or whose approval was being revoked, with the intention of developing or revitalizing them.

This led to his acquiring rights to San Francisco’s KFRC, a clear channel radio station serving Northern California. Later he consulted for cable television companies who were pursuing franchise licenses.

Moving his focus eastward, Paul helped establish Small Cities Cable Television, LP, which eventually served eleven towns in Vermont. He was a Managing General Partner of Small Cities Cable until 1997.

Paul served more than two decades as Director and Board Chair of the California League of Conservation Voters, whose mission is to protect California’s environmental quality by helping elect environmentally responsible political candidates and holding them accountable to the environmental agenda once elected.

In 1995 he cofounded the Coevolution Institute/Pollinator Partnership and later, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, a continent-wide collaboration of more than 120 entities responsible for conservation, research, policies, and awareness, to protect the well-being of bees and other pollinating animals.

To help spread awareness about pollinators, Paul participated in the development of a 2011 Disneynature documentary film, Wings of Life, which was narrated by Meryl Streep and distributed by Walt Disney Studios.

Together with his wife, Eileen Rockefeller, Paul cofounded the Champlain Valley Greenbelt Alliance to preserve unobstructed viewscapes and prevent sprawl in Vermont.

Paul was a long-time trustee of the Rockefeller Family Fund, the David Rockefeller Fund, and co-chaired his wife’s family’s generational association.

In 2007 Paul and Eileen created the Growald Family Fund (GFF) which is dedicated to stemming climate change.  Paul has a BA with honors in Political Science from Northwestern University and a MA in Urban Studies from Occidental College.

About Us
Eileen Rockefeller Growald
Cofounder

Eileen Rockefeller Growald is an author, public speaker, and venture philanthropist. Her recent memoir, Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself, details a journey of finding herself amidst one of America’s most storied families. Eileen’s newest literary work, a debut selection of poems titled Space Between, invites you into a more personal place of pause and reflection.

Eileen is a visionary catalyst in the fields of mind/body health, social and emotional learning, and innovative philanthropy for clean energy. As founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Health in 1981, she pioneered broad acceptance of mind/body interactions in health and disease. She foresaw the related need for social and emotional learning (SEL) as an integral part of education, prompting Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, and the co-founding of CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) in 1994. She and her husband, Paul, founded the Growald Family Fund in 2007 to help reduce climate change by transitioning the energy sector to clean alternatives.

She has also started two nonprofits to protect some of Vermont’s most beautiful open and agricultural spaces, and helped launch a pilot curriculum in Vermont promoting kindness and compassion among medical professionals.

Eileen was a founding chair of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (2000), and has served as long-time chair of her family’s generational association. Eileen also serves on the board of the David Rockefeller Fund. She speaks internationally on topics relating to legacy, family, and philanthropy, leading discussions around the values that have helped keep the Rockefeller family together for seven generations.

Eileen is the youngest daughter of David and Peggy Rockefeller, and a great-grand-daughter of John D. Rockefeller. She has two adult sons and lives with her husband on an organic farm in Vermont.

She received her BA from Middlebury College in 1974 and her MA from Lesley College in 1976.

About Us
Adam Growald
Treasurer

Adam Growald is a speaker and writer on mindful philanthropy, conscious relationships, and cross-cultural understanding. He is an advisor to leading companies on their strategy, branding, and organizational alignment, having worked at Bain & Company and Lippincott, and as an independent consultant.

In addition to his business advisory work, Adam serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Family Fund, the David Rockefeller Fund, the Growald Family Fund, and the Happiness Assembly: in all his work and philanthropy, Adam is committed to a spiritual vitalization of the world and the joyful flourishing of life. A philosopher both at heart and by training—he holds a degree in philosophy from Princeton University—Adam is a student of many traditions, and an avid explorer of the world.

About Us
Steve Toben
Secretary

Steve Toben is the president of the Flora Family Foundation (FFF) in Menlo Park, California. The foundation supports the philanthropic activities of the descendants of Bill Hewlett, co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard Company. Interests of the Flora Family Foundation include the environment, international development, the arts, and education.  Steve reports to a thirty-member Family Council.   

Before joining the staff of FFF, Steve served as a program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation where he directed the foundation's programs on conflict resolution and the environment. He is a former chair of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and a co-founder of the Peace and Security Funders Group. He is a recipient of the Peacemaker/Peacebuilder Award from the National Peace Foundation in Washington for his work in international conflict resolution. 

Steve has served on several nonprofit boards of directors, including Innovations for Poverty Action in New Haven, Legacy Works in Palo Alto, the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation in New York, Northern California Grantmakers in San Francisco, and the Great Valley Center in Modesto. 

A graduate of the University of North Carolina and the Yale Law School, Steve began his career as a law clerk for the Hon. Sam J. Ervin III on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  Following his clerkship, Steve practiced law for eight years, first at the firm of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto and then in the Office of the San Mateo County Counsel in Redwood City. 

Steve is a former member of the Portola Valley Town Council and twice served as mayor. His wife Janice Toben is the cofounder of the Institute for Social and Emotional Learning (IFSEL), which trains educators across the world in methods for advancing intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies of students, with an emphasis on teacher renewal and whole school transformation. 

Steve has two adult sons and one granddaughter.   

 

Our Staff
About Us
Joanna Messing
Executive Director

Joanna joined Growald Family Fund in 2007 to develop and implement its philanthropic strategy and to provide capacity-building and networking guidance to help portfolio partners scale up their programs for maximum impact.  In her role as Executive Director, Joanna takes a lead on convening and bridging funders and NGOs, particularly in the key issues of finance, health and water and how they relate to energy choices and climate.  She has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit sustainability, social enterprise development and venture philanthropy.

Prior to Growald Family Fund, Joanna ran her own company Positive Ventures, a philanthropic and social enterprise strategy consulting firm. Previously she was associate director of REDF (previously Roberts Enterprise Development Fund), a leading venture philanthropy fund, and she was also the director of NESsT Consulting and Enterprise Development, where she helped launch and implement the NESsT Venture Fund, investing in social enterprises throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Joanna received her MBA from the University of Massachusetts. Having grown up well off the grid, she brings a deeply rooted ethic of sustainability to both her role at the Growald Family Fund and her own household. Joanna is an avid salsa dancer.

About Us
Vikas Mehta
Portfolio Director

Vikas manages new portfolio development, capacity development and global field building initiatives for the fund. Prior to joining the Growald Family Fund, he had 12 years of experience in impact investment and program management with international nonprofits in Asia and Africa, working across alternative energy, agriculture and ICT projects. He holds a Master’s degree in International Business from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Delhi University, India.

About Us
Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros
Asia Program Director

Athena leads the development and implementation of the Asia Climate Finance strategy.  Prior to joining the fund, Athena was Director of World Resource Institute’s Sustainable Finance program for 8 years.

Athena has many years of leadership and management experience in environment, development and natural resource governance in developing countries with a particular focus on climate change, clean energy and sustainable finance. She worked actively on climate policy, sustainable finance and clean energy in China, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. She is a long-time policy advisor to the Philippine government’s official climate change negotiating team at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She has published widely on the issue of climate change, climate finance, clean energy, governance and human rights.

Athena also holds strategic and leadership positions and serves on the board of several non-profit organizations such as the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, International Rivers and, Greenpeace International.  She holds post-graduate degrees in Development Planning from the University of the Philippines, in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management, and a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Journalism from the University of the Philippines.

About Us
Deborah Laframboise
Finance and Operations Director

Deborah joined the Growald Family Fund in 2012 and helped to transition the fund into a full operating foundation. She manages general accounting, financial reporting and human resources functions. Deborah brings more than 22 years of experience in accounting and financial management. Deborah was previously the Finance Director at The Vermont Folklife Center and was board treasurer for Homeward Bound, Addison County Humane Society. Prior to transitioning to the non-profit sector, Deborah spent the first ten years of her career in the corporate sector as Manager of General Accounting at Goodrich Aerospace, (now known as UTC Aerospace Systems), and as Assistant Controller for a Starwood's Hotel. Deborah holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Accounting and Business Management with a minor in Economics from Trinity College.

About Us
Elena Huisman
Program Associate

Elena provides program support to the Growald Family Fund contributing to key projects including grants management, impact evaluation, research, and communications. Prior to joining the Growald Family Fund, Elena completed a fellowship at the City of Boston supporting communications and community engagement at the Energy and Open Space Department. Elena is also a member of the inaugural cohort of the Environmental Fellows Program through the Environmental Grantmakers Association. She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Policy and Planning from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and International Affairs from Northeastern University.

About Us
Natasha Ibori
Program Assistant

Natasha provides administrative, event planning and program support to the Growald Family Fund. She takes the lead on scheduling and logistics while supporting the programs team with research and grants management. Natasha has past experience working with nonprofits in India, Indonesia and Nigeria that focus primarily on sustainable development through gender equity and environmental sustainability. Natasha recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and minors in Global Social Entrepreneurship and Professional Presentation from Northeastern University.

About Us
Homayra Shaikh
Writer in Residence

Homayra provides program support to the Fund, managing key projects including impact evaluation, capacity building, proposal development and research. Previously, she interned at the Royal Ontario Museum, where she was responsible for project management, research and workshop facilitation in the biodiversity galleries. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science honors degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Political Science from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.