Board of Trustees

Herbie Hancock, Chairman

Herbie Hancock, a 14-time GRAMMY Award winner and Academy Award winner, is an internationally renowned pianist and composer who has been an integral part of every jazz movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, Hancock became one of the pioneers of modern jazz improvisation and one of the most influential voices on the piano in the history of jazz. His recordings in the ’70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock, influencing decades of music. His 1983 hit song “Rockit” established Hancock as an innovator in electronic music and inspired a generation of hip-hop artists. In 2007, he won the GRAMMY for Album of the Year, becoming the first jazz musician to receive this honor in 44 years. His most recent collaborations include Terrace Martin, Flying Lotus, Wayne Shorter, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Jacob Collier and Lionel Loueke. Hancock serves as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and is the Institute’s Chairman.

Irina Bokova, Institute Trustee

Former Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova is a leading champion of the power of intercultural dialogue to address society’s pressing problems. The first woman to lead UNESCO, Bokova helmed the organization from 2009-2017 and was a key force behind the creation of International Jazz Day in 2011. Prior to her service at UNESCO, she served two terms in parliament as well as interim Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in her native Bulgaria. She also served as Bulgaria’s Ambassador to France, Monaco and UNESCO and as Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. She has been on the Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women several times. Fluent in five languages, she is a vocal advocate of European unity, gender parity and education. Bokova has successfully pushed forward a strong U.N. agenda for better preservation of humanity’s cultural heritage. In particular, she and UNESCO have proven successful in criminalizing the illegal trade in cultural artifacts and in prosecuting those who willfully destroy parts of cultural history. A longtime advocate for the Institute, Bokova joined the Board of Trustees in 2019.

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Institute Trustee

Dee Dee Bridgewater is one of the world’s premier jazz vocalists. Her extraordinary career encompasses more than two dozen albums and countless live performances, along with GRAMMY Awards, a Tony Award, a Doris Duke Artist Award, and an NEA Jazz Master honor, as well as recognition as a Commander in France’s prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Dedicated to using her talents to serve the world’s most vulnerable, in 1999 Bridgewater became an Ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Her humanitarian work earned her the 2017 ASCAP Foundation Champion Award, which recognized her as “a shining example of how the creative community can step forward and use their talent and influence to improve the human condition.” A longtime friend of the Institute, Bridgewater has served as a judge for four International Vocals Competitions, participated in numerous Institute Galas and International Jazz Day celebrations, taught regularly at the Institute’s college program, and co-led educational tours to Morocco, China, France, India, Russia and the Mississippi Delta.

Thomas R. Carter, President

Tom Carter co-founded the organization that is now known as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz in 1986. After an extraordinary launch of the Institute, the following year he co-founded the Institute’s International Jazz Competition, which features a different instrument each year. It has since become recognized as the world’s most prestigious jazz competition, having launched the professional careers of countless young jazz musicians. Carter was the driving force behind the creation of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance. For more than 20 years, this full-scholarship master’s level college program has been recognized as the model training ground for young, aspiring jazz artists. In 2011, Carter was instrumental in establishing International Jazz Day, a worldwide annual celebration of jazz designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and presented in partnership with the United Nations. A native of Fairburn, Georgia, Carter received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Georgetown University. His public service experience began on Capitol Hill, where he served on the staffs of two United States Senators and a United States Congressman.

James E. Farmer, Treasurer

Jim Farmer is the President of James E. Farmer Consulting, Inc. In 2004, he retired as Vice President, General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), completing a 38-year career in the auto industry. Farmer is a member of numerous educational, automotive and professional organizations, including the Executive Leadership Council, Arthur W. Page Society, Public Relations Society of America, National Association of Black Journalists, and National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A founding member of the Washington Automotive Press Association, he serves as President of the Presidential Scholars Foundation in Washington, DC, and a trustee of Central State University Foundation. Farmer has received numerous awards and commendations, including appointment by President George W. Bush to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Presidential Medallion from the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars for his outstanding support of the scholars programs, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Award for his significant contributions to the White House Commission on Arts and Humanities. In 2005, Farmer was elected to the board of trustees of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Frank O. Gehry, Institute Trustee

Frank Gehry is one of the most inventive and influential architects of all time. During a career spanning more than half a century, his iconic buildings have revolutionized modern architecture. Following studies at the University of Southern California and Harvard University, in 1962 Gehry started his legendary firm, Frank O. Gehry & Associates, and quickly began developing his unmistakable structural vocabulary. By the 1970s, his use of bold shapes and unconventional materials had brought him national acclaim. Famed for his philosophy of regarding each commission as a “sculptural object,” Gehry has designed some of the world’s most celebrated structures, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Biomuseo in Panama City and Fondation Louis Vuitton art museum and cultural center in Paris. His work has earned him countless honors, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize, National Medal of the Arts, American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, and American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Gold Medal for Architecture. In 2016, Gehry received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, who called his work “awe-inspiring.” Gehry joined the Institute’s Board in 2020 after years of tireless advocacy for arts education in America’s schools.

Brett J. Hart, Institute Trustee

Brett Hart is the President of United Airlines, Inc., one of the world’s largest airlines. Since joining United in 2010, he has taken on a variety of significant strategic responsibilities, including serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. A widely respected corporate leader, Hart has decades of experience navigating regulatory and strategic issues for highly complex organizations and brands. Before joining United, Hart was Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Sara Lee Corporation. He also served as a partner at the international law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and was Special Assistant to the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Treasury. An active contributor to numerous philanthropic causes, Hart serves on the boards of the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago, among other organizations. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and English from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School. He is married and has three sons.

Marcus Miller, Institute Trustee

Marcus Miller is one of the most influential artists of our time, appearing on more than 500 albums during his decades on the scene as a performer, composer, producer, arranger and humanitarian. A virtuoso on multiple instruments including the bass clarinet, Miller is best known for his unmistakable style on the electric bass, and has brought his distinctive sound to collaborations with Herbie Hancock, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, LL Cool J and Frank Sinatra, among many others. As a member of the Miles Davis group following the jazz legend’s return from retirement, Miller’s contributions as a bassist, composer and producer defined Davis’ style throughout the 1980s. Miller’s prodigious output as a film and television composer includes the scores for Boomerang, Above the Rim, This Christmas and About Last Night, to name a few. A two-time GRAMMY Award winner, he is the recipient of countless honors for his contributions to music and mankind. Miller currently serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, working tirelessly to raise awareness of the global impacts of the transatlantic slave trade.

Robert J. Pilon, Institute Trustee

Bob Pilon is a noted nonprofit arts & culture and social justice executive who serves as Director of Strategic Partnerships at Bloomberg Philanthropies, one of the largest private philanthropic organizations in the world. He is currently on assignment to design and implement development, marketing, and communications strategies for New York’s newest performing arts center, the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC). Prior to joining Bloomberg, Pilon served as President and Chief Growth Officer of the REFORM Alliance, the criminal justice reform initiative co-founded by legendary hip-hop recording artists JAY-Z and Meek Mill. Before REFORM, he was Chief Development & Partnerships Officer at ONE, where he spearheaded the global mobilization strategy behind the company’s initiatives to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Formerly the Hancock Institute’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Pilon has held senior leadership positions at high-impact, philanthropic organizations including Malaria No More and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.