Jean S. Whitney

Philanthropic Advisor

  • Masters (Management, Human Services), Brandeis University, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, 2001
  • BA, Colgate University, 1973
  • Clipper Ship Foundation, Board of Directors

Jean S. Whitney

Philanthropic Advisor

Jean works with families, charitable trusts and private foundations to implement best practices in charitable giving. Her work comprises a range of services, from providing advice on grant making basics, strategy, and succession to researching nonprofit organizations and performing due diligence on nonprofit applicants.

Prior to joining the Ropes & Gray, Jean served as Executive Director of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation where she established its first office, developed strategic grant initiatives and managed a $12 M annual budget. She has also served on the staff of a philanthropic services company in Boston and a national foundation in Michigan. As an independent consultant, she has worked with both nonprofits and foundations on a variety of topics including long-range planning, program evaluation, organization transitions and start-up grant making.

Jean is active in the nonprofit and philanthropic community. She currently serves on the board of the Clipper Ship Foundation. Previously, she was a board member of English for New Bostonians, former chair and board member of Associated Grant Makers, Co-Facilitator of the Disability Task Force and a Board of Overseers member of Newton-Wellesley Hospital. She received the “Making a Difference” Award from Triangle, Inc. in 2015.


  • Works with next generation family members to involve them in their family’s philanthropy
  • Advises foundations and trusts on grant making topics, strategies and best practices 
  • Carries out due diligence, including the review of finances, on nonprofit foundation applicants; also performs site visits
  • Conducts and facilitates board education and training on legal, administrative and social issues
  • Prepares materials for and conducts foundation board meetings
  • Establishes administrative systems for foundations to comply with IRS regulations, including tracking grant history and annual giving budgets
  • Creates and manages communications regarding charitable foundation activities, including experience in the development of a web site


  • Co-authored, Governance for the Family Foundation Library, a book published by the Council on Foundations.


  • Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation, Board Retreat, Kick-Off Dinner Presentation, May 12, 2017
  • Associated Grant Makers, participant in a webinar presentation entitled “Introduction to the Common Proposal Form” April 28, 2016
  • Leading By Example Conference, part of a panel entitled “ The Challenges and Rewards of Multigenerational Family Foundations” October 20, 2016
  • New England Women in Family Offices, part of a panel presentation entitled “Expressing Family Values Across Generations Through Philanthropy and Impact” September 22, 2015
  • Association of Fund Raising Professionals Conference on Philanthropy, part of a panel presentation entitled “Philanthropic Advisory Services” October 19, 2015