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 a Patron of Nature of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), chair of Dona Bertarelli philanthropy, and a World Economic Forum’s Friend of Ocean Action. She is founder and skipper of Sails of Change, 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. 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.

In 2020, Dona was named the Special Adviser for the Blue Economy for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) serving until 2023.

In 2021, Dona Bertarelli and her husband Yann Guichard became Patrons of Nature of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  A year later, in a joint initiative with the IUCN, International Olympic Committee (IOC), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Sports for Nature Framework was launched, which aims at delivering transformative nature positive actions across sports for the protection and restoration of biodiversity.

Dona is a strong advocate for increased ocean protection and environmental conservation. She has founded several projects, working with a number of different partners. She founded the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, where she works in partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts to advance ocean conservation, for the benefit of the communities which rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. Between them, they have helped to safeguard more than 13 million square kilometres of ocean by working with communities, local leaders, philanthropic partners, Indigenous groups, government officials, and scientists. She is also the founder of Global Fishing Watch Marine Manager, a dynamic technology portal created to help transform the management of marine protected areas, visualising ocean ecosystems spanning more than 10 million square kilometres.

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 Sails of Change 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 programme for the Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.

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.

Dona’s commitment to conservation has been recognised with The Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, the Prince Albert I Grand Medal, Mediation Section, from the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco, and she has been honoured as a Commander of the National Order of Honorato Vasquez of Ecuador, and as a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor of France.

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

Dona founded Sails of Change in 2011 alongside her husband Yann, a renowned French skipper. The 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, as well as two Fastnet races. She holds the record from Ushant to the Equator on the Jules Verne Trophy route, and for the Transat Québec-Saint Malo and the Discovery Route. Dona Bertarelli has twice been named Female Sailor of the Year, in 2014 and 2016, at the SUI Sailing Awards. In the winter of 2015-16, she was helmsman-trimmer aboard 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.