Brent Thompson helps to advance the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s efforts to build a healthier, more equitable America through strategic communications. He leads communications for RWJF’s Healthy Children and Families group as well as the Foundation’s New Jersey grantmaking program. Earlier in his career at RWJF, he developed and led national campaigns to support expansion of healthcare coverage, more supportive environments for children experiencing trauma, and the healthy development of infants and toddlers. Brent has managed numerous opinion research initiatives, including focus groups and polling to gain insights related to the Foundation’s strategies and mission.
Before joining RWJF, Brent spent nearly a decade as director of communications at the William Penn Foundation, a $2.7 billion philanthropy advancing the quality of life in Greater Philadelphia through strategic grantmaking to improve the environment, communities, children’s futures, and the arts. In addition to serving as WPF’s chief communicator, he worked with program staff to make effective communications investments and provided technical assistance to a wide range of grantees. Brent was one of the leaders of WPF’s journalism grantmaking team that helped to establish several public interest news operations in the region. While at WPF, he was also an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching marketing and communications for nonprofit organizations at the Fels Institute, Penn’s graduate public policy program.
Earlier in his career, Brent served as chief of staff and communications manager at the American Red Cross in Philadelphia. There, he helped to secure state and local funding streams to create Red Cross House, the nation’s first transitional living facility for disaster victims with low incomes, located in West Philadelphia. Earlier in his career, he managed programs on Middle East peace and security at Search for Common Ground, a Washington-based non-governmental organization specializing in global and domestic conflict resolution.
Brent serves on the board of directors of the Perkins Center for the Arts, an educational and cultural organization serving southern New Jersey. During 2020-21 he served on the oversight board of a COVID-19 emergency relief fund managed by the United Way of Northern New Jersey. Brent was a board member of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia from 2015 through 2021. From 2005 through 2011, he was a trustee of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, serving in a variety of leadership roles including vice chair. He has also been a volunteer at a federally qualified health clinic in Washington, D.C. and with his hometown United Way, where he was named volunteer of the year in 2008.
Brent earned an MPA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from Drew University. He is married with two daughters. In his free time, he can often be found exploring the rivers, forests, and lakes of New Jersey’s extraordinary Pinelands region with his family.