Joan Steinberg on Scaling Innovation in Children’s Mental Health
Joan Steinberg
September 14, 2022   |   Episode #: 038

Joan Steinberg on Scaling Innovation in Children’s Mental Health

Show Notes:

Joan Steinberg is the Global Head of Philanthropy and President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation. She also serves as the CEO of the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health, which was established in February 2020. To date, the Alliance has benefited over 11 million youth, families, and educators globally. Joan is an expert on the impact the pandemic and social inequity have had on youth mental health. Through the Alliance, she works with Child Mind Institute, The Jed Foundation, and others to unite cross-generational leaders, advocates, and activists to raise public awareness and bring to life new initiatives to combat the global crisis.

After a decade in the nonprofit sector, Joan joined Morgan Stanley in 1997 and oversees its global philanthropic programs, including strategic planning and execution, employee engagement, and corporate and Foundation grantmaking totaling more than $90 million annually. She has more than quadrupled the firm’s giving; created programs for more than 70,000 employees; and expanded the philanthropic geographic outreach to serve more communities.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Why children’s mental health is an important cause (for all businesses)
  • An example of a transformative performance review (that puts human wellness at its center)
  • How Joan was successfully able to quadruple the Foundation’s giving
  • The importance of “doing good” being integrated into the DNA of a company

Key Takeaways: 

  • Pre-COVID it’s estimated that 1 out of every 5 adults in the US lives with a mental illness. Post-COVID, the statistic is most likely higher. Given those numbers, it’s safe to say that all of us are impacted by mental illness either personally, through family, friends, or colleagues. Talking about mental health is a huge step toward removing stigma, helping people get support, and ultimately transforming our culture into a more compassionate, empathetic, and human environment for all of us.
  • Your corporate culture is a barometer for the collective mental wellness of your workforce. Intention and support structures are needed to nurture a healthy corporate culture, just as they are needed to nurture a healthy mind and body. Ask yourself, how healthy is your corporate culture? What are the structures, systems, and norms in place that either support or deteriorate creating a healthy culture? Are there any that need to be replaced?
  • I really appreciate the way Morgan Stanley is supporting children’s mental health, which is rooted in what their company does best. They are evaluating solutions to the issue as an investor would—through growth capital, seed funding, and capacity building. Identifying the gaps, looking for new and more effective solutions to problems, and investing in proven approaches that are primed to scale. At the same time, they’re sharing what they are learning, becoming a thought leader in this space, and bringing visibility to get other investors onboard. All while partnering with experts in children’s mental health, helping them do what they do best, at scale.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention page on children’s mental health

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