With new job title, William Penn Foundation seeks new leader

Philadelphia's Center City skyline

The skyline of Center City, Philadelphia, can be seen from the banks of the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek, file)

After an abrupt split with its former president last November, the William Penn Foundation says it should have a new leader in place by the end of this year.

According to board chair David Haas, the foundation and Jeremy Nowak parted ways because of “differences in approach” to accomplishing strategic objectives.

Haas says the foundation has spend months assessing its longer-term needs and goals, and is now actively seeking a new “managing director.”

That’s a departure from past “presidents.”

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“The foundation has grown significantly over the past years,” said Haas, “the work that the foundation is doing is more important than ever, and the institution that we have to carry that out really requires more range of senior management.”

The new top position will oversee the work of a chief philanthropy officer and a chief investment officer. Previously the president was responsible for both of these areas. The new leader will focus on the foundation’s more rigorous, analytical approach to issuing and evaluating grants, Haas said.

“This represents a significant expansion of our overall institutional capacity,” he said.

The foundation’s focus on education, the arts and local water issues will remain the same.

The William Penn Foundation is arguably the most powerful locally-focused foundation in the Philadelphia area. With $2 billion in assets, it issues about $80 million in grants every year.

Haas says the foundation has tapped a search firm, ZRG Partners, Inc., to look locally, not nationally, for people with deep ties to the Philadelphia area.



Disclosure: The William Penn Foundation supports WHYY/NewsWorks.

Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this story the firm searching for the managing director position for the William Penn Foundation was misidentified. ZRG Partners, Inc. will be conducting the search.

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