Brilliant will lead new Skoll Urgent Threats Fund and advise on philanthropic
use of Skoll’s media and financial resources
PALO ALTO, Calif., April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Jeff Skoll, founder and
chairman of the Skoll Foundation and Participant Media, announced today that
he has hired Dr. Larry Brilliant as president of a new organization Skoll is
launching to address urgent threats confronting humanity and the planet.
Brilliant will focus the new organization, the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund, on
identifying and supporting innovative high-impact initiatives to combat
climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and Middle
East conflict. Brilliant will also serve as senior adviser to Skoll to ensure
alignment of work on these urgent threats across Skoll’s business and
Brilliant is renowned for his key role with the World Health Organization in
eradicating smallpox from Asia. He was the founding executive director of
Google.org, where he led the development of the innovative group’s strategy
and, most recently, served as vice president of Google and chief philanthropy
evangelist. His extensive knowledge and networks across a range of social and
environmental issues will help him develop the strategy and partnerships to
get the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund up and running quickly. Brilliant is
familiar with Skoll’s vision for social and environmental change, having
served on the Skoll Foundation board since 2007.
“Over the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent that humanity’s
failure to address critical issues like climate change and nuclear
proliferation aren’t just making these challenges more difficult; they’re
putting life on the planet at risk,” said Skoll. “This new organization is
designed to make serious headway on these issues by identifying and supporting
the most innovative initiatives and solutions out there. I can’t think of
anyone better prepared to shape and lead this effort than Larry Brilliant.”
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for me to bring my life’s work and
experience to join with so many others who feel the urgency of the times to
work on the most critical challenges facing us as global citizens,” said
Brilliant. “Jeff Skoll is a tremendously innovative proponent of social
change, creating a unique, powerful and diverse set of both philanthropic and
business tools to promote change. I look forward to working closely with him,
the Skoll Foundation and his business ventures to make sure we’re as effective
as we can be in changing course for our children’s future. I am also
tremendously grateful to Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Sheryl Sandberg who were
my first board of directors at Google.org for giving me the opportunity to
work for Google.org and to learn so much from working at Google, one of the
most remarkable companies in the world.”
The Skoll Urgent Threats Fund will be a new organization, chaired by Skoll,
with a mandate to identify and support initiatives, organizations and
individuals driving large-scale change on these global challenges. The initial
budget for the new initiative is $100 million, with additional funds available
over time. Brilliant will build the new organization and develop its strategy
and investment approach, leveraging the Skoll Foundation’s programmatic
expertise and operating infrastructure in the process. Sally Osberg, CEO of
the Skoll Foundation, will join Brilliant and Skoll on the board of the new
“In the Skoll Foundation’s 10 years of work, we have built a portfolio of
outstanding social entrepreneurs, many of whom are attacking these urgent
threats in highly innovative ways; this body of work will both benefit from
and be a resource to the new Skoll Urgent Threats Fund and its activities,”
said Osberg. “Even for those social entrepreneurs focused on other arenas –
poverty, human rights, institutional responsibility, health — the negative
impact of these urgent threats makes their challenges a whole lot tougher.
Clearly, these are mutually reinforcing ventures.”
Skoll’s private company, Participant Media, produces movies such as “An
Inconvenient Truth” and “The Kite Runner” and other content designed to inform
and inspire audiences, with the goal of driving public engagement to make
positive change. In addition, Skoll’s multi-billion dollar financial services
firm, Capricorn Investment Group, brings a principled approach to its
investment discipline. In his capacity as senior adviser to Skoll, Brilliant
will seek opportunities to leverage these organizations and relationships to
further drive positive change in the urgent threat areas.
About Dr. Larry Brilliant
Brilliant served a three-year stint as the first executive director of
Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm before becoming chief philanthropy
evangelist for Google. He is an M.D. and M.P.H., board-certified in preventive
medicine, epidemiology and public health. He was one of a four-person
international team that led the successful World Health Organization smallpox
eradication program in India and South Asia. He later founded the Seva
Foundation of Berkeley, California, which works in dozens of countries around
the world to eliminate preventable and curable blindness. Seva’s projects have
given back sight to nearly 3 million people. Last year, Time magazine named
Brilliant one of the 20 most influential scientists and thinkers and one of
the 100 most influential people in the world.
Brilliant co-founded The Well, a pioneering virtual community, with Stewart
Brand in 1985. He also holds a telecom systems patent and has served as CEO of
public and venture-backed technology companies.
Earlier in his career, he was a professor of international health and
epidemiology at the University of Michigan. He has authored two books,
including The Management of Smallpox Eradication in India, and dozens of
scientific articles on infectious diseases, blindness, and international
health policy. He is currently writing a book for Harper-Collins on the
world’s most urgent threats and how to fight them.
Also in 2008, Brilliant was given a Global Leadership Award by the United
Nations Organization. In 2006, he received the TED Prize. He was named
“International Public Health Hero” by the University of California in 2004.
Larry worked in India for WHO for more than 10 years, on smallpox, blindness
and polio. His polio work for WHO led him to create the idea for a
documentary, The Final Inch, which won an Oscar nomination in 2009 and is
currently running on HBO TV.
After the September 11 attacks and the anthrax bio-terror attacks which
followed, Larry left corporate jobs to volunteer as a “first responder” for
CDC’s smallpox bio-terrorism response effort. After the Christmas 2004
Tsunami, Larry volunteered to work in refugee camps and personally collected
and carried financial contributions to refugee organizations in Sri Lanka and
Indonesia. He currently chairs a task force created by presidential directive,
the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee.
He was elected to membership in the Council on Foreign Relations in 2009. He
sits on the boards of The Skoll Foundation, Health Metrics Network, and
Omidyar Networks Humanity United. He is an actively sought after speaker, and
has received numerous other awards, prizes and two honorary doctorates.
About Jeff Skoll
Jeff Skoll is the founder and chairman of Participant Media, the Skoll
Foundation and the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund.
As the founding president of eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), Skoll developed the
company’s first business plan, generating entrepreneurial opportunities for
millions of individuals around the world. He also pioneered creation of the
eBay Foundation through the allocation of pre-IPO shares.
In 1999, Skoll launched the Skoll Foundation, which provides unrestricted
financing and services to leading social entrepreneurs whose innovations are
poised to achieve large-scale impact.
Skoll founded Participant Media in 2004 as an independent global media company
focused on creating entertainment that inspires and compels social change.
Participant’s films to date have garnered 16 Academy Award(R) nominations.
These films include, among others, An Inconvenient Truth, Good Night and Good
Luck, North Country, Syriana, Fast Food Nation, Jimmy Carter – Man From
Plains, Darfur Now, The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson’s War and The Visitor.
Participant will release a number of films in 2009, including The Soloist
(with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.) on April 24.
Skoll serves on the board of the National Center for Arts and Technology and
on a number of advisory boards, including the Ploughshares Fund and The
Elders, launched by Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel in 2007
to focus attention on critical global issues. Skoll was one of Time Magazine’s
100 People of the Year in 2006 and received the Outstanding Philanthropist
Award from the International Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2003.
In 2008, he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences and in 2009 was awarded the Producers Guild of America Visionary
Skoll holds a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from the University
of Toronto, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He
also holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto.
About the Skoll Foundation
The Skoll Foundation was created in 1999 by eBay’s first president, Jeff
Skoll, to promote his vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world. Today
the Skoll Foundation drives large scale change by investing in, connecting,
and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving
the world’s most pressing problems. Social entrepreneurs are individuals
dedicated to innovative, bottom-up solutions that transform unequal and unjust
social, environmental and economic systems.
The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is the foundation’s flagship
program. There are currently 59 organizations represented by 72 remarkable
social entrepreneurs in the program, working individually and together across
regions, countries and continents to deliver solutions to the world’s most
challenging economic and social problems. The Skoll Foundation connects social
entrepreneurs and other partners in the field via an online community at
www.socialedge.org, and through the annual Skoll World Forum on Social
Entrepreneurship. The foundation also celebrates social entrepreneurs by
telling their stories through partnerships with organizations like the PBS
Foundation and the Sundance Institute, with the goal of promoting large-scale
public awareness of social entrepreneurship. For more information, visit
SOURCE Skoll Foundation
Bruce Lowry of The Skoll Foundation, +1-650-331-1020,