Dona Bertarelli is a philanthropist, investor and sportswoman. She is co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation, the philanthropic organisation established by the family, which strives to implement real change in marine science and conservation; life science research; and support for local communities. She is the Special Adviser for the Blue Economy for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a Patron of Nature of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and a World Economic Forum’s Friend of Ocean Action. She is founder and skipper of Spindrift, the professional sailing team based in La Trinité-sur-Mer, France.

Dona Bertarelli

From 1992 to 1997, Dona served as Executive Director, Public and Professional Affairs at Serono SA, before taking absence in 1998 to raise her family. As a driving force behind the development of Serono’s philanthropy and educational programmes, Dona was instrumental in creating the Bertarelli Foundation, which she continues to chair today alongside her brother. In 2003, Dona was awarded the Kokopelli Prize by the American Infertility Association in recognition of her work.

Dona is a strong advocate for increased ocean protection and environmental conservation, and, through the foundation, has supported the protection of more than 2.7 million km2 of ocean. In 2022, she was honoured with The Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship for her work in ocean conservation.

In 2014, she created Spindrift for Schools, an educational programme for schoolchildren in France and Switzerland. The programme was created to share her passion for the ocean, and, to coincide with the first attempt by her sailing team, Spindrift, to beat the Jules Verne Trophy record, the first ‘Adventure Book’ was shared. Spindrift for Schools is approved by the French Ministry of Education, and the educational kit “Inspired by Nature: committed to action!” has been included by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-Unesco) in its program for the Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.

In 2020, Dona was named the Special Adviser for the Blue Economy for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). She helps UNCTAD promote a sustainable blue economy, particularly in developing countries, to ensure the responsible and regenerative use of the ocean, seas and coasts for economic growth, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.

In 2021, Dona Bertarelli and her husband, Yann Guichard, created Sails of Change, aiming to build a community of sports and nature lovers who want to create a sustainable future for the planet, and whose first campaign supports the science-based international call to action to fully or highly protect at least 30% of our planet by 2030. In the same year, the couple became Patrons of Nature of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), joining an international group of conservation, business and philanthropy leaders, who support IUCN’s mission to make our planet a safe and healthier home for all. Together, the Patrons represent a powerful voice in support of IUCN’s global efforts to conserve the ecosystems upon which all life depends.

Among Dona’s other philanthropic activities, she supports several initiatives focused on the ocean, is a member of the Mission Blue board, and she is part of a community of advocates, the World Economic Forum’s Friends of Ocean Action. She also supported the creation of projects to help young people on the front line of climate change in creating sustainable and social enterprises. Supporting girls’ empowerment and education is important for Dona, and she is a founding patron of Womanity Foundation, which works to accelerate gender equality through innovative investments.

As an investor, with assets in hospitality and real estate, she focuses on long-term value creation.

Dona founded Spindrift in 2011 alongside her husband Yann, a renowned French skipper. The multihull professional sailing team, based in Brittany, France, represents their combined passion for the sea, sailing and competition. An accomplished sailor, Dona has won prestigious races and broken records both inshore and offshore, winning the Bol d’Or Mirabaud in 2010 and 2014. In the winter of 2015-16, she was helmsman-trimmer aboard Spindrift 2, the world’s largest maxi-trimaran, as the team attempted sailing’s ultimate challenge, the Jules Verne Trophy. Although the team narrowly missed beating the record, Dona became the fastest woman to sail around the world.