Winfried Kneip, Dr Wolfgang Rohe and Michael Schwarz to become new Executive Directors at Stiftung Mercator

Prof. Dr Bernhard Lorentz will join Stanford University as a visiting scholar and remains affiliated to the foundation as a strategic adviser

Press release

Essen, 11.02.2014

From 15 February 2014, Winfried Kneip (56), Dr Wolfgang Rohe (53) and Michael Schwarz (36), together with CFO Gabriele Geertz, will take over the management of Stiftung Mercator. They previously headed the foundation’s Centres for Education, Science and Humanities and International Affairs. As part of the executive team, they also helped to implement the strategic plan “Mercator 2013” and to shape the work of the foundation in the overarching thematic clusters of integration, climate change and cultural education. Professor Bernhard Lorentz (42), who has been President and CEO of Stiftung Mercator since 2008, will leave the foundation at his own request on 30 June 2014. After the foundation’s successful establishment in the first six and a half year period within the framework of the “Mercator 2013” strategy, which Professor Lorentz largely developed and for which he was responsible, he has decided to accept an appointment at Stanford University as a visiting scholar beginning 1 July 2014. Professor Lorentz will remain affiliated to the foundation as a strategic adviser.

Dr Michael Schmidt, long-time spokesperson of the founding family: “I’m very grateful to Bernhard Lorentz for everything he has helped us to achieve and for our fruitful collaboration. We have been able to accomplish some extraordinary things, and it was a pleasure to witness firsthand Bernhard Lorentz’s dedication and enthusiasm for a great cause.”

Rüdiger Frohn, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Stiftung Mercator: “Over the past six years, Bernhard Lorentz has led the foundation and done an excellent job of carefully managing its growth. Due to his efforts, Mercator is well-positioned strategically, has acquired an excellent team, formed an impressive network of friends and partners, built up a strong reputation, and established the foundation with its current thematic focus. The Advisory Board would like to thank Bernhard Lorentz for his tremendous success and also express its regret about his decision to leave. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours. We are confident that Winfried Kneip, Wolfgang Rohe and Michael Schwarz will continue to carry out their successful work in their new roles and to promote the foundation’s ongoing development. We look forward to working together.”

Bernhard Lorentz: “I thank the founding family and the Board for the confidence they have placed in me, as this has formed the basis of the foundation’s strategic growth since 2008. Managing the development and growth of Stiftung Mercator has been a challenge to which I have devoted myself with great joy and all my energy. My special thanks go to my colleagues at the foundation and to our partner organizations, whose dedicated and strategic work made it possible for us to attain many of our goals and to achieve the desired impact. I am confident that the foundation will continue to make great strides in terms of its strategic objectives. I’m delighted that Winfried Kneip, Wolfgang Rohe and Michael Schwarz, with whom I have enjoyed outstanding working relations, will be appointed to manage the foundation, and I wish them every success.”

Before joining Stiftung Mercator, Professor Lorentz had been Head of Corporate Responsibility and Foundations at Vodafone from 2005. In this function, he was also CEO of the Vodafone Foundation. Prior to this, he was Executive Director at the Hertie School of Governance and headed the Hertie Foundation's Berlin office. Since 2007, he has taught foundation management and foundation strategy as a guest lecturer at the Institute for Arts and Media Management of the Freie Universität Berlin, and in 2011 was made an honorary professor. In addition to his research work and teaching duties at the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) in Stanford, Bernhard Lorentz will be senior adviser to the international “Scholarly Knowledge Project” as a visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Global Policy Institute and visiting fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C.

As planned, the future Executive Board will prepare the next strategic phase, “Mercator 2020”. “We will continue to work towards achieving our objectives in our thematic clusters of integration, climate change and cultural education,” says Winfried Kneip, who will be the first to take on the rotating function of Executive Board spokesperson. “We will also continue the successful work of Bernhard Lorentz with the entire team of Stiftung Mercator and look forward to leading the foundation into the next strategic phase.”

Winfried Kneip will be responsible for the areas of education and cultural education, Dr Wolfgang Rohe the areas of science and humanities and climate change, and Michael Schwarz the areas of international affairs and integration. They previously headed Stiftung Mercator’s Centres.

Winfried Kneip has been Director of the Centre for Education at Stiftung Mercator since 2009. Previously, he spent six years as a Managing Director of the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation in Germany. Since 2004, he has also been on the Executive Board of the Buddy Project, a project to promote social competence which he initiated and managed. Winfried Kneip previously worked as editor-in-chief at the publishing firm “Verlag an der Ruhr” and was the owner of the “Agentur Menschenskinder” organization, which develops educational concepts and materials.

Dr Wolfgang Rohe has been Director of the Centre for Science and Humanities at Stiftung Mercator since 2008. From 1992 to 2002, he worked with the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) in Bonn, initially in the Department for Collaborative Research Centers and then as Head of the strategic planning unit. In 2002, he moved to the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) where he served as Head of the Research Policy Department and since 2005 also as Vice Secretary General. Wolfgang Rohe holds a Ph.D. in German philology.

Michael Schwarz has been Director of the Centre for International Affairs at Stiftung Mercator since 2011. He has worked in the foundations sector since 2005 when, after working for a time as a consultant at CNC, an international strategic communications consultancy, he took up a position at Robert Bosch Stiftung, initially as a project manager in the area of science, then as a management assistant, and most recently as director of communication. He studied public policy and political science in Germany and the US.

About Stiftung Mercator:

Stiftung Mercator is one of Germany’s largest foundations. It initiates and funds projects that promote better educational opportunities in schools and universities. In the spirit of Gerhard Mercator, it supports initiatives that embody the idea of open-mindedness and tolerance through intercultural encounters, encouraging the sharing of knowledge and culture. The foundation provides a platform for new ideas to enable people – regardless of their national, cultural or social background – to develop their personality, become involved in society and make the most of the opportunities available to them. In this way it wants to let ideas take flight. Stiftung Mercator takes an entrepreneurial, international and professional approach to its work. It has a particular affinity with the Ruhr area, the home of its founding family. www.stiftung-mercator.de

If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Dr. Gritje Hartmann
Director of Communication
Stiftung Mercator
Phone: 0049-201-24522-79
gritje.hartmann@remove-this.stiftung-mercator.de