Katharine DeShaw


Katharine DeShaw is a dynamic, results-oriented leader, consultant, public speaker, author, and teacher in philanthropy and non-profit management. A successful fundraiser and grant maker with expertise in start-up organizations, she is skilled in delivering nine-figure fundraising campaigns and developing intentional grantmaking programs in the arts, health, and social justice.

She has proven experience working with international leadership in entertainment, philanthropy, technology, business, and politics. NationBuilder will publish a memoir about her life in philanthropy in 2023 featuring a forward by Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation.

Her active consulting career includes working with clients across the country in the arts, environment, human services, social justice, and philanthropy sectors. Katharine held senior leadership positions at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; United States Artists; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in New York City. She serves on the faculty of the Museum Leadership Institute and designed its fundraising curriculum.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Katharine was the Deputy Director for Advancement and External Relations for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (2016-2020) where she built the fundraising, marketing, and communications teams for the Renzo Piano-designed film center. She successfully completed its $388M capital campaign (before opening and during the pandemic) chaired by Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Annette Bening, and Tom Hanks. Highlights include securing: $50M from Haim and Cheryl Saban to name the Saban Building; $15M endowment to ensure free admission for all audiences 17 and under in perpetuity; $46M for the Pillar Campaign; and $10M for the Sidney Poitier Grand Lobby with leadership gifts from Ambassador Nicole Avant and Ted Sarandos, the Perenchio Foundation, Tyler Perry, Patrick and Michele Soon-Shiong, and Oprah Winfrey, among others. She recruited an international Board of Trustees from the entertainment and philanthropy sectors. Katharine oversaw successful press and social strategies resulting in 1500+ articles appearing worldwide on architecture, content, collections, and programs reaching an audience of 5 billion.

United States Artists

Recruited by the Presidents of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations to create a national organization with a mission “to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society,” Katharine launched United States Artists in 2005. With $22M in seed funding, she developed its signature program—USA Fellows—where annually 50 artists are each awarded a $50,000 unrestricted grant. Nearly 1,000 artists—living in every state and Puerto Rico—have received the grant to date. During her tenure she raised $33M from leadership donors including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Eli and Edythe Broad, Agnes Gund, Target, and the Windgate Foundation including $10M to inaugurate the USA Fellows Endowment. She incubated USA Projects, the world’s first micro-philanthropy website for artists. She recruited USA’s national Board of Directors and served on it.

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