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Feather Houstoun to leave William Penn Foundation

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

The president of the largest funder of local civic projects will step down next year. Feather Houstoun, who has headed the William Penn Foundation and its nearly $2 billion in assets for five years, has had a significant impact on almost every aspect of Philadelphia life.

The William Penn Foundation gave away $63 million just last year. The money went toward hundreds of projects including riverfront development, curbing the high school dropout rate, bolstering an election watchdog group and invigorating the arts industry. The Willam Penn Foundation also funds some projects at WHYY.

During her tenure as president, Houstoun has been credited with creating civic partnerships to get the Kimmel Center out of debt as well as initiating a plan to make Philadelphia the greenest city in America.

Foundation spokesman Brent Thompson said Tuesday the 64-year-old Houstoun, who could not be reached for comment, has not said what she will do next.

Houstoun took over the foundation in 2005 following the previous president’s death. Tom Kaiden of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance said she guided the organization through a tough time.

“Feather took over at a difficult time for the foundation because of Kathy Engebretson’s passing, and ensured that the foundation didn’t miss a beat and continued forward,” said Kaiden. “She has been a remarkable force for a greater Philadelphia during a very difficult economic time.”

Houstoun will remain president of the William Penn Foundation until a new president is identified, which is expected to take about six months.

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