Leadership Timeline | Markle
Leadership Timeline | Markle

Leadership Timeline

Our History

John and Mary R. Markle established the Markle Foundation in 1927 “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge among people of the United States, and to promote the general good of mankind.” Our mission has evolved over the past century to our present day focus on working to realize the potential of information technology to address previously intractable public problems, for the health and security of all Americans.

John Markle

1927 – 1933

John Markle was an inventor, industrialist, and financier who established the John and Mary Markle Foundation in 1927 with an initial endowment of $3 million “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge awho has funds beyond those needed for living becomes “a trustee for his fellow man and should so use those funds.” He served as president and treasurer of the Foundation until his death in 1933. John Markle’s total financial contribution to the Foundation exceeded $17 million. (b. 1858 – 1933)

Mary Markle

1927 – 1933

Mary Estelle Robinson Markle was a generous supporter of several New York City charities, in particular those whose work benefitted impoverished women. She was widely recognized as John Markle’s inspiration for the establishment of the Foundation, the first American institution of its kind to name both husband and wife as partners. This move, considered revolutionary for their times, affirmed the Markles’ belief that the integration of a couple’s financial and social interests can impel the important societal changes needed to serve the greater good. (b. 1853 – 1927)

JP Morgan Jr

1933 – 1942

JP Morgan Jr. whose family’s great wealth was as legendary as their long tradition of philanthropic service, was a member of the very first Markle board of directors. He succeeded John Markle as president in 1933. Soon after, Morgan began sharpening the focus of Markle’s original vision of “advancing the diffusion of knowledge,” leading the Foundation to provide financial support to individuals and institutions dedicated to serving the general good of mankind through their work in the field of medicine. Morgan served as president until 1942. (b. 1867 – 1943)

Thomas William Lamont

1942 – 1947

Thomas William Lamont was a banker, diplomat, and philanthropist who was a presidential advisor to Woodrow Wilson during World War I and to Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression. He succeeded JP Morgan Jr. as president of Markle in 1942, and served in this capacity until 1947. He continued the work and vision of his predecessors by overseeing grant-making efforts that helped to promote advancement in medical science through research and academic excellence. (b. 1870 – 1948)

George Whitney

1948 – 1959

George Whitney was a banker and financier who took up the reins as Markle’s president after the death of Thomas Lamont. He further refined the Foundation’s mission to support advancements in medicine by instituting programs that focused more specifically on cultivating a new generation of leaders in academic medicine. He enjoyed his hands-on role in the selection of Markle Scholars, engaging with the nominees personally and fostering the spirit of collaboration that would become a hallmark of the Markle tradition. Whitney served as president of Markle from 1948 to 1959, and as chairman from 1960 to 1963. (b. 1885 – 1963)

John McFarlane Russell

1960 – 1969

John McFarlane Russell became Markle’s first executive director in 1946, serving under the presidencies of Thomas Lamont and George Whitney. In 1948, Russell launched the Markle Scholars-in-Medicine Program, through which 506 gifted practitioners from 91 medical schools around the country received more than $16 million in grants to encourage growth and strengthen the field of academic medicine. Russell was appointed president of Markle in 1960, and served in this capacity until 1969. (b. 1903 – 1986)

Lloyd N. Morrisett


Lloyd N. Morrisett sought a new direction for John and Mary Markle’s original vision of “promoting the advancement and diffusion of knowledge,” and found it at the dawn of the Information Age. As a former vice president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and one of the founding members of the Children’s Television Workshop, which revolutionized educational programming with such milestone creations as Sesame Street, he began his tenure at Markle by initiating a program to advance the use of communications technologies to promote early childhood education, lifelong learning, and the ongoing cultivation of an informed citizenry. Morrisett served as president of the Foundation from 1969 to 1998. (b. 1929 – 2023)

Zoë Baird

1998 – 2022

Zoë Baird, Former CEO and President of the Markle Foundation, has had a diverse career in law, government, technology, and business. At Markle since 1998, she has led broad collaborations to drive transformative change for the economic security, health, and national security of all Americans. She formed Rework America, the Markle Economic Future Initiative that is pursued opportunities for all Americans to participate in the economy of the future. Previously, she directed Markle’s efforts to use information technology to reform the intelligence community to meet current threats, and to drive improvements in the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care, work that led to passage of major federal laws and transformation of business practice. (b. 1952 – Present)

Beth Cobert

2022 – 2024

Beth F. Cobert, Former President of the Markle Foundation led Markle’s Rework America Alliance, a unique partnership of civil rights organizations, nonprofits, private sector employers, labor unions, educators, and others working to open opportunities for millions of people from low-wage roles to move into good jobs with opportunities for career advancement. The focus of the Alliance is to provide help for people who have built capabilities through experience but do not have a bachelor’s degree – particularly people of color and others facing systemic barriers in the labor market.

Ellen V. Futter


Ellen V. Futter led the American Museum of Natural History for nearly three decades. During her tenure, she reinvigorated the over 150-year-old institution and expanded its scientific and educational scope. She spearheaded the construction of the recently opened Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, with a new state-of-the-art theater, exhibition galleries, classrooms, and a redesigned library and collections core, and of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, as well as the development of the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School.