Houston — The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) today announced that Kelli Rhee will lead the Foundation as president and CEO. Ms. Rhee has extensive strategy and operations experience in a number of high-growth, high-change environments, including consulting, nonprofits, start-ups, and venture capital. She was promoted to president and CEO after serving as LJAF’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer. In that role, she spearheaded the effort to refine the Foundation’s strategy and oversaw the programmatic teams to ensure that grantmaking is aligned across the organization and in support of its mission.
In the search for a president, the Foundation was looking for a creative and inspirational leader with broad policy knowledge and a keen understanding of how to achieve systems-level change that can meaningfully improve people’s lives.
“Kelli has made enormous contributions to our mission and our team, and she embodies the values that are important to each of us,” Laura and John Arnold said. “She is a visionary leader with an extraordinary ability to dissect complex problems and conceive original solutions. In her four years at the Foundation, she has helped shape our culture — and she fills us with a spirit of optimism for what is possible in our work. We are thrilled that Kelli has accepted this position.”
Under Ms. Rhee’s leadership, LJAF will further its efforts to help governments become more effective and efficient; reform the criminal justice, education, and health care systems; and expand access to scientific research. Deep-seated dysfunction in each of these areas contributes to some of society’s most pressing problems. The LJAF team is guided by high-quality data and evidence as it works to fix systems that seem intractably broken. It identifies levers for reform and potential solutions, then pilots and rigorously evaluates them. If the ideas are successful, LJAF works to embed them into policy and practice. This approach is grounded in the belief that targeting entire systems presents the best opportunity to produce large-scale, long-lasting change.
“I am inspired by our team and our partners,” Ms. Rhee said. “Everyone who works for or with the Foundation is united by a desire to solve urgent problems and a commitment to help people. I am honored to be a part of this group and will do everything I can to help achieve our ambitious goals.”
Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Rhee was part of a team that led the launch of a new academic medical center for Baylor College of Medicine. She also served as a management consultant with Bain & Company and The Bridgespan Group. Ms. Rhee holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, an M.A. in education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in economics from Northwestern University.