Dear Simons Foundation Friends:
As we announced in December 2020, effective July 1, 2021, we are stepping down from our day-to-day leadership roles at the Simons Foundation. Marilyn will pass the presidential baton to astronomer David Spergel, and, similarly, Jim will hand over his scientific supervisory duties to David as well. Both of us will now co-chair the Board of Directors: staying involved, clearly, but differently.
But what a journey it’s been. The two of us could never have imagined what was in store when we launched a relatively small family foundation in 1994 as a vehicle for charitable giving. By 2004 we had decided that our mission would be to advance the frontiers of research in the basic sciences and mathematics. Our assets grew. The budget grew. Our staff grew.
Today, we have a staff of 425 people, spread over two buildings in the Flatiron District. Our grants programs now support diverse investigations in biology, mathematics, physics, theoretical computer science and the science of autism, as well as scientific outreach to the public. And, in a wonderful turn, the Simons Foundation launched a still new in-house research institute, the Flatiron Institute, in 2016, to exploit the computational side of biology, astrophysics, quantum physics, neuroscience and mathematics.
We have been, perhaps obviously, thinking about how and when we would transition leadership of the foundation to a new person for quite some time. We knew we wanted a scientist at the helm, and feel extremely fortunate that David Spergel, a standout researcher who has run the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics for the last 5 years, agreed to assume this new role. David is an experienced, talented and empathetic leader who cares deeply about the foundation and its mission. He will report to the board, but David will certainly emerge with his own vision, as well.
As we have told our staff, this turn in the road for us feels not so much like a final “Goodbye” but like a “See you soon.” We will remain close by and will eagerly follow this new stage of the Simons Foundation, led by David Spergel.
Marilyn and Jim Simons