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Knight Foundation announces two new trustees

A successful community foundation veteran and a prominent tech pioneer join Knight’s board of trustees.

Michael Marsicano
Michael Marsicano

We can empower individuals, support groundbreaking initiatives, and shape the future of informed and vibrant communities.

With communities focused on post-pandemic recovery and the impact of new technology, two leaders bring additional expertise and experience to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s board of trustees.

The new trustees are Dr. Michael Marsicano, former President and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas, a community foundation serving the metropolitan Charlotte region, and Matthew Stepka, managing partner of Machina Ventures, an investment firm focused on early-stage artificial intelligence and data science companies.

“Michael and Matthew are each deeply committed to the belief that in order to build a more effective democracy, communities need to be informed and engaged,” said Francisco Borges, chair of the Knight Foundation board of trustees. The foundation’s president, Alberto Ibargüen, added, “Their leadership comes at a critical time in the history of the foundation and will help elevate Knight’s work in funding journalism, arts, research in areas of media and democracy, and the success of cities where the Knight brothers published newspapers.”

Michael Marsicano

“I am excited about the opportunity to contribute my experience in community leadership and philanthropy, and to collaborate with other accomplished leaders in driving positive change. Together, we can empower individuals, support groundbreaking initiatives, and shape the future of informed and vibrant communities. I look forward to being a part of this important mission and making a meaningful impact.”

Michael Marsicano served as president and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas (FFTC) from 1999 to 2023, leading the community foundation in Charlotte and a 13-county region. Under his guidance, FFTC undertook numerous civic leadership initiatives, addressing affordable housing, economic opportunity, racial equity, education, the arts, the environment, literacy, veterans’ services and COVID-19 responses. During his tenure, FFTC’s assets grew from $245 million to nearly $4 billion, making it the fifth-largest community foundation in the United States, managing thousands of charitable funds. Marsicano played a pivotal role in launching E4E Relief, a subsidiary providing disaster relief funds globally. With a strong background in arts administration, he previously served as president and CEO of the Arts & Science Council. He actively engaged with various national and local organizations, receiving numerous awards and honors for his philanthropic leadership and community impact. He holds multiple degrees from Duke University and is married with three adult children. Read more about Mariscano and download photo here.

Matthew Stepka

“I am honored to join the Knight Foundation board and contribute my expertise in artificial intelligence and data science. Together, we can drive positive change, foster informed communities, and advance innovation for a better future. I look forward to collaborating with fellow board members and making a meaningful impact on the foundation’s mission.”

Stepka is the managing partner of Machina Ventures, an investment firm focusing on early-stage AI and data science companies. He is also a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and serves as a director on the board of Qoria (ASX: QOR), a prominent cybersafety company. Previously, Stepka held the position of vice president, Business Operations and Strategy at Google, leading mission-driven projects with high social impact, including expanding fiber and satellite internet access, deploying clean energy, strengthening freedom of expression and democracy, innovating in robotics and expanding Google throughout Africa.

His extensive career includes leadership roles at various e-commerce companies, as well as McKinsey & Company and Price Waterhouse. Stepka holds degrees in computer engineering and Management from Case Western Reserve University. He holds a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar (inactive). Read more about Stepka and download a photo here.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

We are social investors who support a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Learn more at and follow @knightfdn on social media. 

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