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CEO of Porticus, Melanie Maas Geesteranus. Networks, participation, systems change and much more...

CEO of Porticus, Melanie Maas Geesteranus. Porticus is perhaps the biggest philanthropic organisation that you have never heard of! We delve into their philanthropic work and rich history.

In this episode, we learn about Porticus’ global operations and explore the importance of participation, building networks, developing programs from the ground up and driving systems change.

Since 1995, Porticus has coordinated the philanthropic endeavours of the Brenninkmeijer family, continuing a tradition of social engagement stretching back as far as 1841. 

Porticus works in 65 countries and have offices around the world. They have 1,500 partners with whom they aim to improve the world. 

Despite their size and reach, they’ve kept a low profile and traditionally the family said they wanted to focus on their partners, rather than have the spotlight on themselves — let our partners shine.

Now Porticus is changing to a more transparent approach. As Melanie notes, when you’re focusing on systems change, you need to get involved in advocacy, you need to be able to influence policy, so there are good reasons for taking a more public and transparent role. It also helps to get new partners and co-funders involved.

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About Melanie Maas Geesteranus

Melanie joined Porticus as Chief Executive Officer in 2018. Her career has spanned local and national government as well as business.

She has been actively involved with the UN, the World Bank and multilateral platforms such as the World Economic Forum. Melanie is also a member of the Atlantic Council Task Force which seeks to create a better future for citizens and nations including through the protection of the democratic and self-determining rights of all people.


Melanie has served as a vice minister and minister in several Dutch cabinets, actively engaging in major topics such as infrastructure, spatial planning, (international) water management and the environment.

In the private sector, Melanie was a director at Achmea Zorg Healthcare Insurers, one of the largest insurance providers in Europe.


She is passionate about social inclusion and participation to make democracy work for everyone. Melanie is known for her action led approach, down to earth style and ability to bring diverse groups of people together to address issues at scale.


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