Carol Thompson Cole is President & CEO of Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), a philanthropic investment organization that helps great leaders build strong, high-performing nonprofit institutions.
Cole brings to VPP over thirty years of management experience in the public and private sectors, as well as a strong history of leadership in the National Capital Region’s nonprofit community and local government. She served as Special Advisor to President Clinton on the District of Columbia and Executive Director of the DC Inter-Agency Task Force, Executive Office of the President, where she was ‘point person’ to the President on the District. In this position, she played a key role in developing ways the federal government could assist Washington, DC achieve and sustain financial stability, reliable services, and economic growth.
Prior to serving in the Clinton administration, Cole was the Vice President for Government and Environmental Affairs at RJR Nabisco, where she developed a corporate-wide environmental program that ensured that all business activities were carried out in an environmentally responsible manner and in compliance with federal, state, and local standards; served as corporate spokesperson on environmental issues; and functioned as a Washington representative monitoring public policy issues.
She spent twelve years in the government of the District of Columbia holding major management and staff positions, most notably as the first woman (and, at the time, the youngest person) to be appointed City Administrator. She also held a number of other positions, including Deputy Mayor for Operations and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; Chief of Staff, Executive Office of the Mayor; and Director, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
She is a member of numerous boards, including the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers Board of Directors, the Greater Washington Advisory Board of SunTrust, the Kaiser Permanente Regional Advisory Board, the board of Hager Sharp, the Federal City Council; the Board of Trustees of Friendship Public Charter School, the Wesley Theological Seminary, and the Summit Fund. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and is a Lifetime Trustee of the Urban Institute. Cole has been recognized for her outstanding leadership and dedication to the regional nonprofit community. Honors and awards include Most Powerful Women of 2011 and 2009 by Washingtonian Magazine, 2010 Sophisticated Lady by Arena Stage; 10 People to Watch in 2009 by the Washington Business Journal; Phenomenal Women of 2008, by the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust; and Washingtonian of the Year in 1990, by Washingtonian Magazine.
Cole earned a BA from Smith College and a master’s in public administration with a concentration in urban public policy studies from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University. She also attended the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.