The Nelson and David Rockefeller Chair in Latin America Studies

The Nelson and David Rockefeller Chair in Latin America Studies honors two distinguished Americans who have been influential in the development of U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere during the past half-century.

The Rockefeller Chair helps to provide the best possible analysis of current developments in Latin America, and to create forums for the rational discussion of policy options.

Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979)

Nelson A. Rockefeller was a businessman, politician, statesman, art collector, and philanthropist. He began his public life as an officer in a number of family-related enterprises, including Rockefeller Center, Creole Oil (the Venezuelan subsidiary of Standard Oil), and the Museum of Modern Art; but he soon began to establish new organizations to fulfill his personal interests. In 1940 he and his siblings founded their own philanthropic foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; for work in Latin America, Rockefeller established the American International Association for Economic Development (1946) and the International Basic Economy Corporation (1947); and in 1954 he established the Museum of Primitive Art in New York City.

Rockefeller's service in government began in 1933 as a member of the Westchester County Board of Health; he moved onto the national and international scene in 1940 as the Coordinator of the Office of Inter-American Affairs under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He received subsequent presidential appointments from Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard M. Nixon, working on government reorganization, public policy, and foreign affairs.

In the 1950s and 1960s Rockefeller sought elective office himself. Beginning in 1958, he won election to four consecutive terms as governor of New York State, where, as a progressive Republican, he vastly increased the state's role in education, environmental protection, transportation, housing, welfare, and the arts. His candidacies for the Republican nomination for president in 1960, 1964, and 1968 were not successful. He resigned as governor in 1973 and the next year was nominated as vice president of the United States, serving under President Gerald Ford (1974-1977).

David Rockefeller

David Rockefeller is Honorary Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and chairs its International Advisory Board. He was Chairman of the Council’s Board of Directors from 1970 to 1985, and has been a member of the Council since 1941. He is involved in many business activities as well as not-for-profit organizations engaged in a broad range of international, governmental, civic, and cultural issues. He retired as Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank in 1981, and currently serves as a member of the International Council of JP Morgan. Mr. Rockefeller served as Chairman of the Rockefeller Group, Inc., from 1981 to 1995, and as Chairman of Rockefeller Center Properties, Inc. Trust, from 1996 to 2001. In 2000, he became a director of the Shinsei Bank.

In 1987 Mr. Rockefeller stepped down as Chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a grant-making organization founded in 1940 by Mr. Rockefeller and his brothers. He is the former Chairman of the Museum of Modern Art and continues as Chairman Emeritus and Life Trustee.

Mr. Rockefeller has wide-ranging interests and has been involved in many areas of international relations and civic affairs. He was instrumental in creating the International Executive Service Corps, a volunteer group of retired people that provides technical and managerial assistance to private enterprise in developing nations. In 1973 he helped to found the Trilateral Commission, and in 1991 stepped down as its North American Chairman, now serving as Honorary Chairman. In 1979, he co-founded the New York City Partnership, which is dedicated to economic development and effective governance in New York City through private-public partnerships.

He is Honorary Chairman of the Americas Society and its affiliate, the Council of the Americas, an organization which he founded to promote closer inter-American cooperation, on both a business and cultural level, as well as better communication between the public and private sectors. He served as Chairman from 1981 through 1992. Mr. Rockefeller served as Chairman of the Rockefeller University for many years and is currently Honorary Chairman, a Life Trustee, and Chairman Emeritus of the R.U. Council. He has also been President of the Harvard College Board of Overseers.


Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellows in Latin America Studies:

2005–  Julia Sweig
1995–2004  Kenneth R. Maxwell