The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Names New President and CEO

September 15, 2020

Jesse Brackenbury to join Foundation
from the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

Long-time Foundation CEO, Stephen A. Briganti,
to retire in spring of 2021

The Board of Directors of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., is pleased to announce the appointment of Jesse Brackenbury as its next president and chief executive officer. Brackenbury will take over leadership of the Foundation on May 1, 2021, replacing Stephen A. Briganti who has been with the foundation since 1982 and its president since 1986.

Brackenbury is currently with the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in Boston. He joined the public-private partnership in 2009 and has served as Executive Director since 2013. He helped realize the vision of The Greenway as the epicenter of downtown Boston. The construction of The Greenway Carousel at The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove and the installation of award-winning public art draw millions to the park. Partnerships with institutions like the Boston Ballet, Celebrity Series, Coolidge Corner Theater, and Trillium Brewery have made The Greenway a vibrant destination. The Conservancy was recognized last year with the Boston Society of Architects’ prestigious Commonwealth Award for its transformative work.

In 2015, Brackenbury was recognized by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Leaders” and by the Boston Business Journal as one of their “40 Under 40 Honorees” in 2014. Jesse holds an MBA degree from the University of California-Berkeley and a BA from Williams College.

Prior to joining the Conservancy, he worked for the Boston Consulting Group on strategy, real estate, and other projects for Fortune 500 companies. Brackenbury also had leadership roles with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the United Nations World Food Programme in Italy.

Albert Bellas, Chairman of the Board of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, stated that “After a long and deliberate search, the Foundation board believes that Jesse Brackenbury is the right person to lead the Foundation as it continues its work on both islands. We are delighted that Jesse has chosen to join us.”

“I am so excited to build on Steve’s incredible legacy with The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation,” said Brackenbury. “I look forward to partnering with the National Park Service to enhance the experience for visitors and to celebrate these important symbols.”

Stephen Briganti will retire as president and CEO on April 30, 2021, and will remain on the Foundation’s board. During Briganti’s tenure, the Foundation raised approximately $1 billion. Major initiatives included restoring the Statue of Liberty for its Centennial in 1986 culminating in the 100th anniversary Liberty Weekend celebration; restoring five buildings on Ellis Island as well as establishing the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration; creating the American Family Immigration History Center, which makes available manifest copies of immigrants’ arrival through New York from 1820 to 1957; developing the Peopling of America Center on Ellis Island in 2015 to tell the nation’s immigration story from the 1500s until today; and most recently opening the $100 million Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island in 2019.

The Foundation works directly with the National Park Service to identify and develop initiatives that restore and preserve the Statue and Ellis Island while enhancing the visitor experience. The Foundation’s endowment has funded more than 200 projects.

“The National Park Service has been remarkably fortunate to work with such a longstanding and accomplished partner. Under Stephen Briganti’s leadership, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation has exceeded fundraising expectations, enabling us to continually enhance and improve the visitor experience and tell some of the most important stories we, as Americans, have to tell,” said John Piltzecker, Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

“We welcome Jesse as we celebrate Steve’s successes. These landmark projects would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of Stephen Briganti. They reflect his extraordinary leadership for over 38 years,” concluded Mr. Bellas.

About The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization established in 1982 by Lee Iacocca upon the request of President Ronald Reagan to raise funds for and oversee the historic restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Foundation partners with the U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service in what has become one of the most successful public-private partnerships in U.S. history, having raised approximately $1 billion since the Foundation’s inception. All funds for the Foundation’s projects have come from the public – no government funds have been used. Initiatives include restoring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for their respective centennials; establishing the American Family Immigration History Center, which made millions of arrival records readily available to the public for free; expanding the Ellis Island National Museum to encompass immigration from the 1500s through to today; and creating the Statue of Liberty Museum, which tells the monument’s history and explores the concept of liberty. For more information go to  

Suzanne Mannion
Director of Public Affairs