Rebecca Rimel As a seasoned leader, Rebecca Rimel is known to take risks, calculated risks, that is. Overseeing one of the nation’s 10 largest foundations, Rebecca and her staff at the Pew Charitable Trusts provide fact-based information to advance major policy issues.
”We pick issues we think are ripe for change, which run the gamut from death-penalty reform, to early childhood education, to reproductive genetics, to global warming, and others,” she says.
Under Rebecca’s leadership, the organization has reinvented itself several times. Most recently, it changed from a private foundation to a public charity in order to become more flexible and efficient in fulfilling its mission.
Rebecca credits the quality of the talented people around her for her ability to lead the organization into new directions. ”I’m lucky that I have co-workers and family around me that will tell me, as my mother would say, ’that my shoes don’t match.’ You need people around you that will question you, and inspire and challenge you.”
Her passion is ”seeing people grow and excel, and seeing talented people succeed.” This passion has led her to allow more risk-taking. She explains, ”I’m more willing to see my staff take greater risks, and accept the occasional failures. Failure is okay, as long as we know we did our best and went in with all the facts and preparation we needed.”
Rebecca’s Kellogg Fellowship taught her the value of interacting with people of different backgrounds and perspectives. As a result, she says, ”I try to surround myself with people who have different points of view because it allows me to make better decisions.”
Her advice to other leaders: ”For any decision that you make, whether it turns out to be right or wrong, be comfortable in knowing that you followed your gut, your head, and your heart. Never second-guess yourself afterward, even if it turns out it wasn’t right. Just know that you made the best decision you could, given the information and circumstances.”