Jennifer Madans applauds for Jeff Jordan during his retirement party.

Thanking Jeff Jordan, a Strong and Gracious Leader

PRB Board Chair Jennifer Madans remarks on the tenure of President and CEO Jeffrey Jordan as he approaches his retirement.

Since longtime President and CEO Jeff Jordan announced his upcoming retirement, the PRB Board of Trustees has been thinking a lot about what makes a good chief executive. Fortunately, we’ve had a near-perfect example in Jeff, a steadfast and gracious leader who we will sorely miss.

CEO is a complex and demanding job; the dream candidate has a long and broad list of qualifications, including superior technical skills, a commanding presence, outstanding interpersonal skills, an easygoing personality, fundraising acumen, and the ability to connect with staff, who are the heart of PRB. Jeff has all of these traits, to a high degree.

What’s more, Jeff is truly passionate about our mission, a true believer in the ability of data and evidence to make our world a better place. This passion guides all that Jeff does, and he wears it on his sleeve—it’s one of the first things I noticed about him when I met him at a World Data Conference before I joined the Board. It is something I still admire.

Another characteristic critical to the Board is trustworthiness. We must have ultimate confidence in our CEO, knowing that the information we need to do our job—to make PRB the strongest organization it can be—will be shared accurately, completely, and promptly. With Jeff, this trust has never been in question. He has always been genuinely open to our suggestions and even criticisms. I have never felt constrained in sharing my thoughts, even at times when, had I been in Jeff’s place, I might have preferred a bit more restraint. He is fair, good natured, easy to work with, and easy to talk to.

“One of Jeff’s greatest strengths is as a connector,” said my Board colleague Jennifer D. Sciubba. “He is not only a strong leader, but he is also open hearted. Jeff always shows how much he cares about the people of PRB, whether they’re staff, Board members, partners, or the individuals we represent in our work.”

These qualities have helped PRB achieve many accomplishments. Under Jeff’s tenure, we began nearly a dozen new projects, including work under MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator, the PACE (Policy, Advocacy, and Communication Enhanced for Population and Reproductive Health) project, Empowering Evidence-Driven Advocacy, KidsData, the Southern California Association of Governments, and Counting Women’s Work, to name a few. We incorporated our office in Kenya and named our first Africa Director; we moved to a beautiful new office space in D.C.; we survived a global pandemic. We stayed relevant—no easy feat for a nearly century-old nonprofit.

All this work culminated in what I see as one of Jeff’s biggest achievements: In 2021, he was asked to deliver the Rafael M. Salas Memorial Lecture at the United Nations, where he warned about the dangers that disinformation poses to democracy. This speech put PRB on a global stage previously occupied by the likes of Jeffrey Sachs, Prince Philip of Britain, and Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile.

Major changes are unsettling, but as I have heard Jeff say many times, change also offers opportunities. Jeff is the ultimate optimist—he not only celebrates a glass half full but a glass a quarter full. Over the last several months, the Board and staff have been focusing on where we have gone under Jeff’s leadership and where we want to go. And even as he prepares to take his leave, Jeff is making sure that he leaves PRB in the best possible position for the future. It’s hard to imagine PRB without Jeff, but I’m excited for what the next decade holds for us both.

My Board colleague Bobby Jefferson might have said it best: “Jeff exemplified what it means to lead with integrity and authenticity as an inclusive leader. I thank Jeff for his steadfastness and grace, which leave an indelible mark on PRB’s mission. His tenure has been a testament to the power of passion that meets purpose, driving meaningful, positive change and fostering a culture of excellence at PRB. As we embark on a new chapter, Jeff leaves a strong legacy to build on for the future.”

It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you, Jeff, and we wish you the very best in retirement. Thank you for your commitment, your fairness, and your friendship. As you embark on new adventures, don’t forget all of us at  PRB—we will never forget you.