Profile headshot of Shawn

Shawn McCaney

Executive Director

Shawn brings more than 10 years of leadership experience at the Foundation to his role as Executive Director. Prior to his appointment as Executive Director, he was the founding program director for the Creative Communities program and managed National Initiatives for the Foundation, seeking to expand philanthropy in the region and share the Foundation’s learnings with others focused on similar issues nationwide.

Recently, Shawn oversaw the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy revision process, which is conducted every 10 years. This effort resulted in the adoption of a new mission statement and grantmaking values and principles, the establishment of expanded and new grantmaking priorities, and key changes to the Foundation’s application process to increase its accessibility and transparency. The strategy revision was informed by an extensive stakeholder engagement effort that included nearly 400 conversations with local stakeholders and community members. 

In addition to Foundation leadership, Shawn has been involved in several citywide and regional civic initiatives, including serving on the Mayor’s Historic Preservation Task Force; organizing the Foundation's $70 million contribution to pandemic relief; and co-founding the Civic Coalition to Save Lives, a 100-organization citywide coalition of civic, community, faith-based, and business leaders focused on reducing gun violence in Philadelphia. 

As part of the Foundation’s 2012 strategic planning process, Shawn led the creation of the Great Public Spaces grantmaking strategy. Through this work the Foundation sought to expand access to high quality public spaces that engage, connect, and serve communities in Philadelphia and Camden. As part of this work, Shawn led the formation of a partnership with the Knight Foundation to pilot a new national initiative - Reimagining the Civic Commons - in Philadelphia, which has now been replicated in Akron, Camden, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, Lexington, Macon, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, and San Jose. He also developed the Foundation’s two largest grants in its history: a $25 million grant in support of the Free Library’s 21st Century Libraries Initiative, and a $100 million commitment to support the City of Philadelphia’s Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (“Rebuild”) Initiative, which will transform the city’s libraries, parks, and recreation centers. 

Previously, Shawn initiated and oversaw the Foundation’s Central Delaware Riverfront Initiative, which engaged over 4,000 Philadelphians in 150 meetings and led to the creation of a new waterfront management organization, a new master plan, updated zoning ordinances, and the construction of a series of early-action capital projects, including Race Street Pier Park, Washington Avenue Pier Park, Pier 68 Recreation Pier, and the new Central Delaware Riverfront Trail — all intended to model the central tenet of the Central Delaware Civic Vision, which is to promote waterfront public access as an organizing principle for riverfront redevelopment. The Foundation is also supporting the centerpiece project of the Central Delaware Initiative: the construction of a new, $329 million, 11-acre park lid over I-95 that will reconnect the city’s historic district to the riverfront. 

Shawn received his graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his undergraduate degree from Temple University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, an International Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners, and is a licensed Professional Planner in the State of New Jersey. Shawn serves on the board of the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation and is chairman of the Haddonfield Borough Planning Board.