If You Work on Climate Change, Get to Know This Foundation Executive Director

In recent years, hedge fund manager, Jeremy Grantham, has emerged as one of the biggest new environmental philanthropists. Along with Hannelore Grantham, he founded the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment in 1997 with the mission of protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

To help give away the foundation's dramatically increasing assets, Grantham relies on a lone staff member, Ramsay Ravenel, who has been the Grantham Foundation's Executive Director since 2009. Ravenel handles grantmaking, endowment management, and all aspects of the foundation. And, wow, does he have a full plate: The foundation is moving serious money out the door -- $16.8 million in 2011, the last year we have a 990 for, with giving surely much higher now. They're giving big gifts to big organizations, but also spreading around lots of smaller grants to all sort of groups -- and for all sorts of things, from research to local advocacy to the communications side of environmental battles.  

Ravenel is also a Partner at Eastern Sun Capital, the private investment arm of Jeremy Grantham. Prior to teaming up with Grantham, Ravenel led the solar energy investing efforts at MissionPoint Capital Partners, which is an alternate energy private equity fund. He also originated investments at Marshall Street Management in SunEdison and EcoSecurities. If there were ever a man who bridged the gap between finance and environmental sustainability, this is him.

Ravenel got his start with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard and went on to earn Master's Degrees in Forestry and also Business Administration and Environmental Studies from Yale. He began his career with a community forest project in Indonesia and then moved on to work in conservation finance and timberland investment.

At the Grantham Foundation, Ravenel keeps his focus on climate change, the “world's primary environmental threat today,” through communication and collaboration. Although Ravenel is based in Boston, the reach of the foundation's grantmaking extends to Honduras, Costa Rica, Bangalore, and beyond.

If you'd like to get a sense of Ravenel's personality off the job, browse through some of his published articles in The Harvard Crimson, which primarily relate to his musical tastes and concert ventures. His passion for the environment extends well beyond his day job. He and his wife were credited for having an eco-friendly wedding when they tied the knot September 25, 2010 in Somesville, Maine.

Some projects that Ravenel has shown interest in include farm and forest management, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, building eco-friendly vehicles, and developing non-hydrocarbon-based power. “There’s an 80-20 overlap between sensible behavior on resource limitation and sensible behavior on climate change,” Ravenel told the New York Times. “A lot of his [Grantham's] audience isn’t that receptive to messaging on the world’s environment going to hell, but they are receptive to resource limitation.”

The Grantham Foundation only reviews grant proposals by invitation only. However, Ravenel can be reached directly with questions at 617-880-8941 or by email at rravenel@granthamfoundation.org