William Penn Foundation Welcomes Barbara Wong as New Director of Creative Communities

Creative Communities

William Penn Foundation Welcomes Barbara Wong as New Director of Creative Communities

Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Source: William Penn Foundation

PHILADELPHIA (August 17, 2022) – The William Penn Foundation announced today the appointment of Barbara Wong as its new Director of Creative Communities. Wong will oversee more than $30 million in annual grantmaking to ensure people and communities across Greater Philadelphia benefit from inclusive, diverse, and high-quality public spaces and arts and culture experiences. She brings a wealth of nonprofit, academic, and philanthropic experience to the Foundation from a variety of past leadership roles.

Wong comes to the William Penn Foundation from the Barnes Foundation, where she serves as Director of Community Engagement and Family Programs. In her role at the Barnes Wong leads the development and implementation of strategies and programs for community access, equity, inclusion, and social impact.

Prior to her time at the Barnes, Wong served for 16 years as the Executive Director of Providence CityArts for Youth which supports equitable access to quality arts education for urban youth. With Barbara’s guidance, CityArts expanded significantly and developed creative partnerships with organizations and communities across Providence. Under her leadership, Providence CityArts for Youth was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

“Barbara brings a deep passion for the arts, more than 20 years of experience working at internationally recognized arts organizations and tremendous experience building meaningful partnerships with communities. She will have an immediate and important impact on the work of the Foundation and her background makes her an excellent fit for the role given the new direction of the Creative Communities program,” said Shawn McCaney, Executive Director of the William Penn Foundation.

“Barbara has been a wonderful partner to Puentes. Her strategic vision and immeasurable dedication to the community has resulted in opening a world to arts, culture and education infrequently experienced by immigrants to this country," said Orfelina Payne, Executive Director of Puentes de Salud. "She's created pathways for children and adults alike to explore culture and education through an artistic lens resulting in an expanded sense of community."

Wong’s experience also includes grantmaking in the arts, having worked at the Rhode Island Foundation, where she oversaw a portfolio of grants and led development of a fund to support emerging and mid-career artists. Wong also served on the Board of Education for Providence Public Schools and was Chair of the Board’s Arts Education Committee. In that role, she oversaw the formulation of a framework to ensure access to the arts for all Providence students. From 2007-2015, Wong served as a lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Department of Learning in Art and Design, leading graduate courses in non-profit arts management and community arts education.

“The William Penn Foundation is a mighty giant behind much of the important work happening in our communities. I’ve had the privilege of working at the Barnes Foundation and seeing first-hand the impact we can make with Foundation investments in the arts and social impact,” said Wong. “I’m honored to join the Creative Communities team, to work with and within our communities—to continue to strengthen the pathways between creativity and healthy lives, strong communities, and positive futures for Philadelphia and the region.”

Wong earned her BFA from Cornell University and MA in art education from the Rhode Island School of Design. She was also a gubernatorial appointee to the Rhode Island Commission on Women and is a member of the National Art Education Association and the National Guild for Community Youth Arts Education.

Wong will begin work at the William Penn Foundation on September 14.



About the 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, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more at www.williampennfoundation.org.