Administrative Services


Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Source: William Penn Foundation

PHILADELPHIA – February 22, 2017 - The William Penn Foundation today announced it has named Shawn McCaney as executive director effective March 1, 2017. Shawn has served as interim executive director since November 2016 while a national search for this position was conducted with the assistance of Diversified Search. As executive director, Shawn will oversee the Foundation’s operations, investments, and $112 million annual grantmaking and evaluation budget, which is focused on increasing high-quality educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged children; protecting the Delaware River watershed; and supporting arts, culture and the development of accessible and vibrant public spaces.

“The board of directors and Haas family are delighted that Shawn will serve as our leader. His depth of experience, insight, enthusiasm, and commitment to the Foundation and its work render him an ideal choice,” said William Penn Foundation Board Chair Janet Haas. “For more than a decade he has led some of the Foundation’s most impactful and innovative work, including our recent historic $100 million grant to support the Rebuilding Community Infrastructure initiative. Shawn has been an integral part of our growth for 13 years, and understands our evolution as an organization. He has an eye to the future and how we must adapt to the changing needs of the community.”

Shawn joined the Foundation in 2003 and most recently served as director of national initiatives and the Foundation’s Creative Communities grant program. In this role, he managed a $35 million per year grantmaking portfolio focused on parks and public space, arts and culture, and arts education. He developed and led some of the Foundation’s most notable work including the Civic Vision for the Central Delaware, which highlights public access to the waterfront as an organizing principle for redevelopment of the Delaware River Waterfront, and has sparked the creation of a series of new public waterfront parks, trails, and public spaces. Shawn oversaw the Foundation’s $25 million grant to support the 21st Century Libraries Initiative, transforming five neighborhood libraries across the city to better serve community needs, and the Foundation’s recent, historic $100 million grant to support the Rebuilding Community Infrastructure initiative, which will transform the city’s parks, playgrounds, libraries and recreation centers into new centers of community.

As director of national initiatives, Shawn has overseen the development of strategic partnerships with national funders to share innovative practices and approaches developed in Philadelphia and to attract nonlocal support. This includes a collective $18 million for Reimagining the CivicCommons, an initiative developed by the William Penn Foundation in partnership with the Knight Foundation that is now being replicated in four American cities.

“It is a great honor to lead an organization that is so deeply committed to improving the quality of life for people of the city and region. I am humbled to be entrusted with helping steward the amazing legacy of the Haas family and the William Penn Foundation,” said McCaney. “Under the steadfast leadership of our board, I was pleased to work with our talented staff and previous executive director Laura Sparks to shape our current grantmaking strategies, which were implemented fully in 2014. Now I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the organization in achieving the goals we established.”

Prior to joining the William Penn Foundation, Shawn served as associate principal and director of planning for Kise Straw & Kolodner, overseeing a team responsible for developing community revitalization efforts and urban planning and design projects. Shawn previously was a planner with Remington & Vernick Engineers managing a wide range of municipal development projects, including streetscape and traffic calming improvements, parks and recreation facility designs, and the preparation of land use plans and regulations. Shawn also has served as a consulting planner to a number of municipalities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Shawn’s activities in the community include serving on a variety of boards and committees, including Center City Development Corporation and the Haddonfield Planning Board. He earned his Masters of Science and Education from the University of Pennsylvania and his Bachelor of Arts from Temple University.

William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets totaled approximately $2.3 billion as of December 31, 2016.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Morley
(215) 988-1830 - office
(215) 370-5619 - cell

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