Conservationist, venture philanthropist, and author of Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself
Courtesy of the author
About Eileen Rockefeller
Eileen Rockefeller is the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller and the youngest child of David and Peggy Rockefeller. She has lived an inspiring and multifaceted life, and her memoir—Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself—shares her stories with disarming vulnerability, connecting the extraordinary experience of being a Rockefeller to the universal one of finding identity and purpose. As a teenager, Eileen lived on a farm-based school in the Adirondack Mountains, sowing the seeds of her continuing passion for nature, health, and environmental sustainability. As a young woman, an extraordinary meeting with Georgia O’Keefe helped give her the courage to pursue her own path. Inspired by her mentor, Norman Cousins (pioneering author on the healing powers of laughter), she played a pivotal role in legitimizing the field of mind/body connections in health and disease. She later introduced Daniel Goleman to the subject of his bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence. Together with several others, they founded the movement to teach social and emotional learning in schools.
One of the first Rockefeller woman to write a personal family memoir, Eileen reveals her family’s wholesome values that contrast with those often held by the rich and famous. Her intimate stories affirm how self-understanding helps make us whole, whatever the circumstances of our birth. Although the Rockefellers are an intensely private family, their extraordinary contributions to the national and international landscape have influenced the global economy and science, and have created and preserved national parks and monuments, founded major universities, medical schools and museums, and have passionately supported the arts and culture in the U.S. and around the world.
Eileen has served as co-chair of her family’s generational association, founding chair of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers, founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Health, and co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Together with her husband and sons, Eileen manages a philanthropic fund that catalyzes actions to stem climate change. Eileen frequently speaks on topics relating to legacy, family, philanthropy, and social & emotional learning.
Being a Rockefeller. Becoming Myself; Seeking a Meaningful Life
Eileen shares her experience of growing up in one of America’s best-known families. Her authentic and often humorous stories will elucidate the prevailing question:"what is it like to grow up as a Rockefeller?" while drawing upon themes that demonstrate that regardless of background, there is a certain universality to the human experience.
Family Values Through the Generations: What to Keep, What to Toss, and How to Tell the Difference
Using her own family of origin as the blueprint, Eileen shares examples that both served and did not serve the sense of unity within her extended family. She describes how her generation learned from the examples of her uncles and aunts, and how she has sought alternate means of showing support and solidarity, from rituals that included everyone to structures for deep listening. She also outlines her family’s shared values around philanthropy and how it’s the glue that has held her family together for seven generations.
Eileen’s father, David Rockefeller, has often told her, “It’s easy to give money away, but it’s not easy to give it well.” Making a list of your common values is the first of many ways to turn the burden or confusion of deciding how and where to give money into pleasure and satisfaction. Eileen builds from the weight of her family’s expectations, which made her early years of philanthropy a chore, to the collaboration of her extended family around shared interests, to the later partnership with her husband that turned philanthropy into a meaningful adventure with measurable success. She gives tips along the way for how philanthropy can be implemented within families to open communication and encourage connection across generations.
Praise for Eileen Rockefeller
Eileen is an inspiration and a wonderful person. We all fell in love with her and she was so well received. Her presentation added incredible value to our proceedings.— EY Global Family Business Center of Excellence, Brand, Marketing & Communication Leader
Eileen did a marvelous job; her passion, commitment, knowledge, and personal experience came through. She’s not just giving lip service to the subject of philanthropy, this is something that is her. We were honored, thrilled, and lucky to have Eileen— Citibank, Wealth Management – Latin America, Vice Chairman
Everyone loved it and seemed very engaged… more than any other event we’ve hosted. I’m still amazed at how many people lingered after the event and discussing various topics with their peers. That’s EXACTLY what we are trying to accomplish… starting a conversation about our families.— Tolleson Wealth Management, President
I’m sure you could tell by the response to your presentation how much the CosClub members enjoyed it. I heard so many complimentary comments after the event: “wonderful,” “great,” “she was so open about sharing her thoughts and letting us see her vulnerability as well as her immense talent.” The phrase I heard most often was “She’s a lovely lady.” Your presentation had just the right mix of provocative thoughts and humor. I think all of us left feeling we have a sense of what it is like “being a Rockefeller” and hoping we can apply your attitude to our own families. And I’m so glad you read some of your poetry…. Thank you again for giving us such a truly meaningful presentation.— Cosmopolitan Club, Events Coordinator
Books by Eileen Rockefeller
Media About Eileen Rockefeller
- 212 572-2013
- Eileen Rockefeller travels from Vermont
Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself
"A beautifully written book that will touch many people in a very personal way. In Eileen Rockefeller's stories we learn not only that love heals but that only love heals, and that being fortunate in life has nothing to do with material goods but lies in being truly loved for yourself, exactly as you are." – Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings