Donor Profile - Phil Knight: Securing Brookings’s Leadership on Japan Studies

Nike Chairman and co-founder Philip H. Knight created an endowed chair in Japan studies at Brookings in 2011, bringing permanent capacity to the examination of the economic, social and security issues facing policymakers in Tokyo and Washington. A Brookings Trustee since 2008, Knight’s investment provides an enduring foundation for work that is becoming increasingly valuable as the U.S. turns its attention to Asia.

Phil Knight and Mireya Solis
Nike Chairman Philip Knight and Senior Fellow Mireya Solís. (Paul Morigi)

In July 2012, Brookings appointed Dr. Mireya Solís, a noted expert on the political economy of Japan and its foreign economic policies, as the first holder of the Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies at Brookings.

Knight brings to his leadership at Brookings the same passion that has driven Nike since it was founded on a handshake between him and Bill Bowerman in 1964. The culture of performance and innovation that Knight built at Nike has been instrumental to the company’s growth and drives his philanthropic endeavors as well. “Brookings’s greatest strengths lie in its people—the experts who always get right to the heart of the problems we face and whose ideas for solving them are as original as they are practical,” Knight said. “It’s what makes Brookings a great institution.”

“Japan is such a crucial country, both as a strategic ally of the United States and one of the world’s largest economies,” Brookings President Strobe Talbott said. “Phil Knight’s gift to Brookings enables us to respond to developments in Japan and in the U.S.-Japan relationship in a thoughtful way.” Gifts to the Brookings endowment, like the one that created the Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies, are vital to the Institution’s long-term ability to devote sustained attention to enduring challenges. These contributions provide critical resources that enable Brookings to hire and retain top experts and give them the tools to reach the audiences—policymakers, stakeholders, opinion leaders, and the public—that are so important to achieving real and lasting impact.