Olive Mosier, William Penn Foundation

TITLE: Director, Arts Funding

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and culture, arts education, and creating public arts spaces

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Olive Mosier manages the William Penn Foundation's cultural grantmaking and administers its "strategies for effective funding as well as managing her own portfolio of grants" in the area. Her foundation bio shares:

Olive joined the Foundation in 2000 and since that time has managed its arts portfolio and related initiatives. Additionally, she serves on Mayor Nutter’s Cultural Advisory Council and, for six years, served on the board of Grantmakers in the Arts, a national affinity group. Olive was involved in the founding and implementation of the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project and sat on its governing board, helping launch the initiative into a national program and later as an independent nonprofit organization.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Olive served in a White House appointment during the Clinton Administration as Director of the Office of Policy Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, working with both Jane Alexander and Bill Ivey.

For four years, Olive worked as Executive Vice President and COO at the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies (NALAA; now Americans for the Arts) and for five years served as Executive Director of National Artists’ Equity Association, both in Washington, DC.  At NALAA, Olive oversaw operations, served as staff liaison to the board, and assisted in policy and advocacy initiatives. At Artists’ Equity, she worked with an all-artist board to educate artists on business principles and to pass legislation like the Visual Artists’ Rights Act and consumer protections such as improved toxicity labeling for art materials.

Olive holds a M.A. in arts management from American University, studied art history at the graduate level at Northwestern University and earned a B.F.A. from Howard University.

Andrew Johnson, William Penn Foundation

TITLE: Program Director, Watershed Protection

FUNDING AREAS: Watershed conservation and protection

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: Johnson leads land and water conservation up and down the Delaware River Watershed region. That includes urban areas, where he directs funds to parks, trails, and other projects to make nature more accessible to the public—and in so doing, he hopes, make the public more interested in protecting it.

PROFILE: Conservation opportunities abound in America’s remaining wilderness areas, needless to say. But Andrew (Andy) Johnson finds them deep within cities, too. As senior program officer for the Watershed Protection program at the William Penn Foundation, he’s led the allocation of numerous grants to Philadelphia and nearby cities for urban parks, nature trails, and other projects that facilitate city folks’ access to, and enjoyment of, the natural world. The more remote wilderness habitats are part of the program, too, though. Johnson’s grantmaking sponsors conservation and restoration efforts across his state and beyond.

The William Penn Foundation has an endowment of close to $2 billion, out of which it dispenses about $110 million in grants a year. Its conservation outreach covers all bases: scientific research, policy development, restoration projects, and advocacy efforts to mobilize the public. It keeps its mission very localized, though. Grants go, with virtually no exceptions, to groups involved in stewardship of the Delaware watershed, the 12,800-square-mile river network that runs through the Philadelphia area, Delaware, and parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

National groups do receive William Penn grants, but they tend to get them for projects in the greater Philadelphia region. The Natural Resources Defense Council and The Nature Conservancy are some examples. So is the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, which has been using its grants from William Penn to finance a Delaware Estuary program since 2003.

Beneficiaries, both local and national, have used grants to track environmental health and water quality throughout the watershed, buy up lands that they identify as critical to water conservation, and develop and implement new models and methods for conservation, restoration, and enhanced public and private watershed protection.

The Delaware River Waterfront Commission, a public-private partnership that’s developing public nature sites on the banks of Philadelphia’s corner of the Delaware River, has been a major beneficiary of William Penn grants. The foundation gave the partnership $10 million—$5 million in 2010 and another $5 million in 2013—for a new nature trail, a public park, and related projects. Philadelphia’s zoo received $6 million to build a new trail that same year; and the city’s 55-acre Awbry Arboretum, a grant of $300,000. These all follow the foundation’s 2012 allocation of $495,000 to the civic association Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future for clean-water and storm-water-management programs.

These city-centric initiatives reflect a philosophy that Johnson and his foundation colleagues hold for furthering conservation by raising interest and awareness among the public. Trails and similar projects connect the public with nature. And this, Johnson and colleagues hope, can lead to more members of the public making personal connections with nature and finding more incentives to protect it.

This philosophy also underlies the foundation’s investment of large sums to complete the Circuit, a network of more than 250 miles of trails that crisscrosses the greater Philly region. And it’s why the foundation likewise issued $350,000 grant to the Wildlands Conservancy to expand a Bike and Boat Program on the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers, and to construct several new nature trails and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

Many more foundation grants fund work further out in the countryside. The foundation has issued $82,500 over the years to the Manomet Center’s Shorebird Recovery Project, a project to teach area residents and visitors about the region’s migratory shorebirds and horseshoe crabs. Other foundation-sponsored programs work with hunters, fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts throughout the region to encourage them to engage in their hobbies in the most ecosystem-friendly ways possible.

Shawn McCaney, William Penn Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director 

FUNDING AREAS: Community development, parks, and transportation in Philadelphia

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: This urban planner has worked his way through the ranks to become Penn's man in charge. From the start, he's had big plans for moving Philly out of its gritty past to become a more livable place that draws creative class types.

PROFILE: Effective March 1, 2017, Shawn McCaney is the executive director of the William Penn Foundation. He's been part of the foundation since 2003 and served as the director of national initiatives and the Foundation’s Creative Communities grant program before this. In this prior role, Shawn oversaw the development of strategic partnerships with national funders to share innovative approaches developed in Philadelphia and to attract non-local support.

In the past, Shawn McCaney is the front man for urban development at Philadelphia's William Penn Foundation. Since the recession, he has seen waterfront development in Philadelphia as absolutely crucial to the city's long-term financial well-being. "If we don't do this," he told Philly.com, "we'll be less competitive in the future and will fall behind."

Penn's Creative Communities initiative is the heading under which the majority of McCaney's work falls. The idea here is to make Philadelphia more of a destination for visitors, employers, and workers. The website describes a key component of the effort as:

...access to great public spaces that function as the stage for healthy civic life and community engagement and provide high-quality opportunities for outdoor recreation and play. More than ever, high-quality public amenities, such as parks, trails, and open spaces are key assets that cities need to effectively retain existing residents and compete for highly mobile, knowledge economy workers and businesses.

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation makes a sterling example of what McCaney and Penn like to see. After a successful $6.5 million renovation of the formally abandoned Race Street Pier into an outdoor concert venue, next on the corporation's hit list is an "8-acre park it envisions will cover I-95 and Columbus Boulevard between Walnut and Chestnut streets. The new park, which will slope to the water, will reconnect Old City with the waterfront," according to Philly.com.

Penn dropped $400,000 on the idea before the company even publicly announce an estimate of its total cost.

Outside of the waterfront, McCaney has also had an interest in those looking to build public parks, trails, and other outdoor recreational spaces or improve old ones. Anything goes here, from research and data collection on the viability of new projects, match and challenge grants from other funders, and even the nitty-gritty of "project planning, design, and pre-development, including community outreach." In some instances, McCaney can also capsize his foundation's wallet for one-shot experimental projects, such as new technologies for managing and monitoring public space and general operations support for companies working in this field.

Turnoffs for McCaney and the Creative Communities initiative have included proposals that will place an undue financial burden on the city in the long run, high-maintenance projects, and anything outside of Center City Philly and the adjoining riverside sections of Camden.

Ultimately, McCaney brings a strong urban planning and design background to the William Penn Foundation. Before starting there in 2003, he logged more than 15 years with various Philly-area design and architectural companies. In the government sector, McCaney has played a significant role in the recent development planning of Philadelphia's Chinatown and of the PATCO Hi-Speed Line, which connects with Philadelphia's SEPTA system and proceeds east over the Ben Franklin Bridge, across South Jersey, ultimately terminating in Lindenwold, New Jersey. He also received his education locally, finishing an undergraduate degree at Temple and master's at UPenn.

Claire Billett, William Penn Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, Watershed Protection

FUNDING AREAS: Watershed conservation and protection

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Claire Billet serves as a program officer at the William Penn Foundation, which shares the following bio:

For most of her career, Clare has been invested in preserving, restoring and improving natural resources and ecological systems throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region—working across the conservation practitioner’s spectrum from ecological restoration, management and design to land protection, conservation planning and natural-resource prioritization. She led regional SmartConservation® efforts that resulted in the development of innovative site assessment and decision-support tools, and also generated a regional Greenspace network of conservation hubs and migration corridors that would create a sustainable, connected landscape throughout eastern Pennsylvania. She has worked for private consultants and national and regional conservation nonprofits, and recently directed the wildland-urban interface brush-management program for the City of San Diego. Clare holds an M.S. in landscape architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK and a bachelor’s degree in geography with a specialization in Biogeography from the University of Nottingham, UK.