The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences has announced Lewis M. Feldstein, former CEO and President of New Hampshire’s largest foundation, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, as the Perkins Bass Distinguished Visitor for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Named after longtime New Hampshire U.S. Congressman Perkins Bass, member of the Dartmouth College Class of 1934, this appointment is meant to celebrate a New Hampshire citizen who has made outstanding contributions in government, and provide Visitors the opportunity to share their knowledge with the Dartmouth community.
“I am honored, and delighted, by this appointment,” says Feldstein. “I’ve spoken at Dartmouth a number of times. Without exception, the response was informed, sharp – and often challenging and provocative. I expect to learn every bit as much as I teach. What more can I ask?”
The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center was not the first institution to recognize Feldstein’s substantial contributions. In several different instances, Feldstein has been noted as one of the ten most influential people in New Hampshire. In the 24 years he served as the CEO and President of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the organization’s assets burgeoned from $25 MM to nearly $500 MM.
“Running a large foundation is an extraordinary opportunity,” says Feldstein. “We reached every community – from all 234 towns to an incredibly broad range of interest groups, populations, and problem issues. In my work in NH, and nationally, I learned that while giving money away may get you into the game, making a difference often depends on a very different set of skills.”
Prior to serving in this role, Feldstein aided in building community foundations across Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union and contributed to private philanthropy as a member of the World Bank leadership team. Along with Robert Putnam of Harvard University, Feldstein coauthored “Better Together: Restoring the American Community,” a book about civic engagement within the United States, and co-chaired the Saguaro-Seminar “Civic Engagement in America.”
His civic engagement spans outside of academia, as Feldstein was an active participant of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and a leader in combating several public policy issues, such as opposing New Hampshire’s Marriage Equality Law. Mr. Feldstein was listed among the Top 50 of nonprofit executives by the “NonProfit Times” and holds honorary doctorates from seven universities. Among his singular achievements was a stint as wine steward and personal assistant to John Wayne on his yacht in the Mediterranean.
“It is our privilege this year to have Lew Feldstein as our Perkins Bass Visitor,” says Andrew Samwick, Director of the Rockefeller Center. “His depth of experience in community building and civic engagement exemplifies the Center’s longstanding commitment to values-based leadership. His involvement with the Center this year will afford students a real opportunity to meet and engage with an exceptional leader.”
Feldstein will visit campus several times throughout the year, engaging with students and spurring conversation relating to challenges the government faces today in relation to his own experiences in the past.
Along with sponsoring visitors such as Feldstein, the Perkins Bass ’34 Fund also provides internship funding for Dartmouth students who wish to work for the state of New Hampshire.
Written by Nikita Bakhru ’17, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications