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James L. Bildner and Maria Otero to retire from Kresge Board of Trustees

General Foundation News

Kresge Foundation Board Chair Cecilia Muñoz today announced that two long-serving trustees – James L. Bildner and Maria Otero – are retiring from the foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“We are so sorry to see them go; Jim and Maria provided welcome counsel and crucial governance to the foundation during some of the most seminal events shaping Kresge’s strategy and impact in the past 15 years,” Muñoz said.

Bildner became a Kresge Trustee in 2005 and provided instrumental leadership and strategic advice on financial and capitalization decisions, most notably when Kresge created its $350 million impact investing pool in 2015.

He served as the inaugural Chair of the Social Investments Committee, a board management role that Otero later assumed. More recently, he served as head of Kresge’s Investment Committee where he guided matters related to the foundation’s endowment, particularly fulfilling Kresge’s commitment to perpetuity and meeting the foundation’s complex liquidity needs.

“Jim was the fountainhead for Kresge’s development of a social investments practice, and his early and direct involvement in shaping its purposes, approaches and aspirations continue to serve as the bedrock for the practice today,” said Rip Rapson, CEO and president of Kresge. “His approach was a model of how to bridge between a trustee’s governance role and the fostering of our social investment portfolio.”

Kresge Board of Trustees James L. Bildner and Maria Otero stand together in front of a church being renovated.
Kresge Board of Trustees James L. Bildner and Maria Otero attend a partner site visit in Memphis during a Kresge Board meeting in 2023.

Bildner is CEO of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, an adjunct lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a senior research fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University. He is also a frequent lecturer, panelist, and speaker on social enterprise, capitalization and the institutional role of philanthropy and serves as a trustee of several for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

His government service includes an appointment by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Otero became a Kresge trustee in 2013 and served as Chair of the Social Investments Committee. Under Otero’s oversight and expert management, Kresge’s Social Investments Practice has grown into one of philanthropy’s largest and most innovative social investments portfolios.

“Maria’s extraordinary experiences in international economic development, her unparalleled sense of diplomacy honed at the State Department and her completely unflappable temperament combined to provide Kresge with a leader who was always in service to our increasingly impactful social investments portfolio and its growing staff,” said Rapson.

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Otero was formerly president and chief executive officer of ACCION International, a leader in microfinance and economic development working in 26 countries. She previously served as an economist for Latin America at the Women in Development office of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and at the Centre for Development and Population Activities. She was an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins’ Nitze School for Advanced International Studies before becoming the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights from 2009 to 2013.

Otero serves on several nonprofit and corporate boards. In 2000, she was appointed to the board of the United States Institute of Peace by President William Clinton. In 2006, she was appointed by Secretary General Kofi Annan to the United Nations Advisors Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.