Trené Hawkins

Focus Area:
PhilanthropyRacial Equity
Hawkins_Trene_Fulcrum Cohort 5_Headsot2 - Trene Hawkins
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Program Officer
Lawrenceville, New Jersey

Trené Hawkins is a program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest U.S. philanthropy devoted to health. It’s here that she shapes grants to dismantle structural racism and advance economic inclusion for the health and wellbeing of families. Prior to her current role, Trené served on RWJF’s Pioneering Ideas for an Equitable Future and Global Ideas for U.S. Solutions teams, leading efforts to advance health equity as it relates to evolving trends like guaranteed income, technology infrastructure, and the integration of wellbeing into national measures of national progress.

During her tenure at RWJF, Trené has worked to influence RWJF’s grantmaking practices and investments, shaping strategies that are more responsive to community-accountable field practitioners, supporting internal coordination and best practices that ease grantee burden, and working to shift from transactional to relational and supportive grantmaking. In addition, Trené led the formation of a staff leadership body reporting to the executive office, meant to transform institutional culture towards one of transparency, accountability, and equity.

Trené holds an MBA from the Wharton School, a Certificate in Public Health and MS in Cell and Developmental Biology from Rutgers University, and a BA in Molecular Biology from Princeton University.

Trené aspires to shift philanthropic practice from the inside-out, changing what gets funded and how philanthropy works to influence other funders, disrupting standard practices in the sector to address legacies of extraction and exploitation more directly, and using a liberatory frame to redefine risk and return. Trené serves on the Board of Springboard to Opportunities, a Jackson, MS-based nonprofit serving Black families living in affordable housing. Through this and other leadership opportunities, Trené is working to deepen her connections to the communities her work centers.

In addition to being a social impact professional, Trené is a food, wine and travel enthusiast; proud NJ native; and new-ish mom. She spends most of her time finding fun activities to do with her husband, Jarel, and toddler son, Jackson, who loves cars, construction, strolling the famers’ market, and lego. A former athlete, avid traveler, and baker, she looks to resume these hobbies now that the haze of new parenthood and COVID-related disruptions are waning