Katharine DeShaw

Katharine DeShaw is a dynamic, results-oriented leader, public speaker, author, and teacher in philanthropy and nonprofit management. She has closed successful nine-figure fundraising campaigns and is skilled in developing intentional grant-making programs in the arts, architecture, design, health, and social justice. She enjoys working with international leadership in entertainment, philanthropy, technology, business, and politics. NationBuilder will publish a memoir about her life in philanthropy in 2024, with an introduction by Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation.

Katharine has consulted for 20+ years. Select clients include: The Actors’ Gang (founded by Tim Robbins); AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles; Anderson Stewart Family Foundation; Arts for LA; CicLAvia; Colburn School; Craft Contemporary; Entertainment Community Fund; Fulfillment Fund; Harvard’s Center on Media and Child Health; Heal the Bay; LA Dance Project; Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND); Moss Family Foundation; Museum of Latin American Art; Oneida Nation of NY; Orange County Museum of Art; Project Angel Food; Street Poets; and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. 

She has held senior leadership positions at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; United States Artists; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis; Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and Twyla Tharp Dance both in Manhattan. She served on the faculty of the Getty Leadership Institute and designed its fundraising curriculum.

At the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (2016-2020) Katharine built fundraising, marketing, and communications teams for the Renzo Piano-designed film center. Completed $388M campaign (during pandemic) chaired by Bob Iger, Chm and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Annette Bening, and Tom Hanks. Secured $50M lead gift from the Saban Family Foundation; $15M endowment gift from the Hobson Lucas Family Foundation to underwrite admission for audiences 17 and younger; and $10M in endowment funds for cinema and educational programs. Recruited international Board of Trustees from entertainment and philanthropy. Developed successful press strategies resulting in 1000+ articles appearing worldwide on architecture, content, collections, and programs reaching an audience of 4B+.

In 2013 she was recruited by the Presidents of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations to launch a national organization with a mission “to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society.” With $22M in seed funding, she designed its signature program—USA Fellows—where annually 50 artists, architects, and designers 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. She raised $34M from major donors including Michael Bloomberg, Eli and Edythe Broad, Agnes Gund, Target, and the Windgate Foundation including $10M for USA Fellows Endowment. She recruited and served on its national Board of Directors. 

Current Board service includes the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina and Creative Acts in Los Angeles. During Covid, she rescued LA’s longest operating yoga studio—the Center for Yoga—and now serves on its Board as a shareholder. 

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