Grant Oliphant was today named the new President of The Heinz Endowments, one of the nation’s leading family foundations. He returns to the Endowments – an organization he previously served for over 10 years in a number of senior management roles – following six years in his current role as President and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation.
In announcing Mr. Oliphant’s appointment, Teresa Heinz, Board Chairman of the Endowments, acknowledged his past experience and service to the Endowments and his extraordinary success in leading The Pittsburgh Foundation, one of the major community foundations in the U.S., through a transformative period of growth and community impact.
“I have known Grant for many, many years and watched him grow into an exemplary professional and an exceptional leader, visionary and innovator,” said Teresa Heinz. “Above all he is a caring and compassionate human being who offered us three characteristics that made him the perfect choice for this role. He has a deep understanding of Pittsburgh, an informed and strategic view of philanthropy, and a close personal alignment with our family’s philanthropic and community values. I am delighted that he is returning to lead our vital mission at the Endowments.”
Mr. Oliphant, who served as press secretary to the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz, was asked by Teresa Heinz to assist with the family’s philanthropic work after she assumed the board chairmanships of the family’s foundations following Sen. Heinz’s untimely death in 1991. “It is fair to say that almost everything I believe about the work of social change and how philanthropy can help a community move forward, I learned in some way or another through my association with the Heinz family. The Heinz Endowments is a true philanthropic leader, locally for the Pittsburgh region, nationally and beyond, with a distinctive and successful track record for addressing big and critical community issues. I have learned from the best, and now to be asked to lead the best is a deeply gratifying honor,” said Mr. Oliphant.
“I am also immensely grateful to The Pittsburgh Foundation, where I have been privileged to work with a remarkable Board and staff who over the past six years have proved that community philanthropy can be a powerful force for change. I look forward to our continued partnership as these two great philanthropic institutions carry forward their shared goal of making Pittsburgh a model of community transformation.”
Mr. Oliphant will move to his new position at the Pittsburgh-based Endowments by June 2014. A national search was conducted by The Heinz Endowments following the retirement of former Endowments President, Bobby Vagt earlier this year. The search was led by Endowments Board member James Rohr, Executive Chairman and former Chief Executive Officer of PNC Financial Services Group.
Accomplishments at The Pittsburgh Foundation during Mr. Oliphant’s leadership include the launch of the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program for the students of the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the development of PittsburghGives, an on-line giving and research portal that has raised more than $30 million over the past five years for local nonprofits with annual Day of Giving events. Both of these programs have become national models for similar initiatives by other community foundations across the U.S.
In 2013, The Pittsburgh Foundation exceeded $1 billion in total assets for the first time in its 69-year history, representing asset growth of 33 percent since the end of 2007. Also, last year the Foundation raised almost $60 million, the third highest in its history and continuing a trend that has seen the organization strengthen its annual fundraising, including successive records set over the previous three years. During his tenure at foundation, the number of donor funds has doubled to over 1,900 individual funds.
Prior to leaving The Heinz Endowments in 2008, Mr. Oliphant held the position of Vice President for Programs and Planning, responsible for managing the Endowments’ $70-plus million annual grantmaking portfolio and undertaking a leadership role in guiding special task forces promoting civic design, school reform and stronger links between environmental stewardship and economic development.
Mr. Oliphant has taken a prominent role in building advocacy programs to support the work of local nonprofits and the families and individuals they serve. He serves extensively on the boards of local nonprofit and national sector organizations, including the Center for Effective Philanthropy and the Council on Foundations. He is also Chair of the Board of Riverlife, which works to transform Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, and serves on the boards of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Promise, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and the Pittsburgh Advisory Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Born in Adelaide, Australia, Mr. Oliphant, 53, relocated with his parents to the U.S. at the age of four, and grew up in Denver, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. He received a Master’s of Science Degree in Organizational Development from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College. He lectures frequently on leadership, organizational dynamics and philanthropy’s role in community change.