Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation
“As leaders in our community, we can’t do it all — but together we can see that it all gets done.”
Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation – an organization working to create an equitable, just and vibrant Minnesota where all communities and people thrive. With roots in Saint Paul since 1940 and partners across the state, the Foundation is Minnesota’s largest community foundation, stewarding $1.7 billion in charitable assets, including the work of F. R. Bigelow Foundation, Mardag Foundation and a statewide network of more than 2,000 charitable organizations and donor advised funds. Each year, the Foundation and its donors make over 8,500 grants to agents and agencies of change.
Jolly joined the Foundation in 2015. As a lifelong educator and scientist, Jolly’s signature leadership style has been to listen deeply to those in the community. As a result, Jolly has focused the Foundation on three distinct strategies: inspiring generosity, advancing equity and investing in community-led solutions. The consistent thread woven throughout Jolly’s vast career is the belief that all humans deserve a life filled with dignity and opportunity.
This commitment has led him to serve in many capacities. Before joining the Foundation, Jolly worked for a decade as president of the Science Museum of Minnesota and prior, as vice president and senior scientist at the Education Development Center in Massachusetts. He has also worked in successive academic roles at several colleges and universities, including professor, dean, assistant chancellor and director for Affirmative Action and Diversity. He is a life member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, a life fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former director of the board of the National Museum of the American Indian.
Currently he serves on a number of local and national boards, including the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Greater MSP, Itasca Project and the Ordway. Jolly is a member of honor societies, including Sigma Xi, Phi Eta Sigma, Mortarboard and Golden Key. Widely recognized for his work with communities and policy makers, Jolly has published articles and books and has lectured around the world. He is also a frequent contributor to articles, opinion editorials and global conversations and convenings about equity, inclusion and community-building. Jolly has a doctorate in psychology and a master’s degree in psychometrics from the University of Oklahoma.