Welcoming Board Members Victoria Melendez and Joan Massagué

The Vilcek Foundation celebrated the 19th anniversary of its incorporation on December 1. In a letter to the board and staff of the foundation honoring the anniversary, Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel affirmed, “This is a landmark achievement and a testament to the enduring value of the foundation’s mission and programs.” He continued, “Since 2000, we have awarded 83 prizes to foreign-born luminaries expanding the horizons of biomedical research, and enriching arts and culture in the United States.”

The celebratory letter also announced the appointment of two new board members, Victoria Melendez and Joan Massagué. Victoria Melendez, a senior portfolio manager and managing director with Rockefeller Capital Management, joins the board for the first time. Joan Massagué, director of the Sloan Kettering Institute and winner of the 2006 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science, returns to the board following an earlier tenure that ended in 2015.  

At Rockefeller Capital Management, Victoria directs portfolio management for foundations and endowments in an investment advisory capacity. Her work focuses on mission-aligned asset allocation for these institutions. Victoria is also a member of the board of directors of the Japanese Art Society of America, where she is responsible for organizing presentations and talks for the board by curators, professors, and members of the society and affiliated organizations.

Joan Massagué has long been interested in how growth factors, signaling pathways, and gene expression programs control normal cell behavior and cancer cell metastasis. He has pioneered studies in genes and functions responsible for mediating tumor metastasis, which have opened new avenues for the investigation and treatment of metastatic cancers. He is chair of the External Advisory Board for the Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine. Joan is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Medicine, the Spanish Royal Academies of Medicine and Pharmacy, and the European Molecular Biology Organization.

In addition to welcoming the incoming board members, Rick expressed gratitude on behalf of the foundation to outgoing board member Christina Strassfield, saying, “Jan, Marica, and I extend our deepest thanks to Christina Strassfield for the guidance and perspective she has provided during her tenure over the last six years.” Christina — museum director and chief curator of Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, New York — was instrumental in developing the Vilcek Foundation’s partnerships with the New York Foundation for the Arts’ Immigrant Artist Project Mentoring Program and Queens College’s Social Practice Queens.

As the foundation enters its 20th year in operation, Rick reflected on the successes of the foundation, noting, “None of these wonderful achievements could have been possible without the work and dedication of our beloved foundation staff and board [whose] invaluable contributions help the foundation deliver on its mission.”