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Long-time president of Arthur Blank’s foundation to retire this year

Maria Saporta
Blank Foundation's Penny McPhee interacts with Westside resident Juanita Wallace as community activist Tony Torrence listens during the 2014 Volunteer Day at Lindsay Street Park (Photo by Maria Saporta)

By Maria Saporta

Penelope “Penny” McPhee, the president of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation since 2004, today announced her intention to retire by the end of 2020.

McPhee will remain in her job until a successor has been identified and come on board. The Blank Foundation will conduct a national search for her replacement. It has hired the Washington, D.C.-based search firm – Non Profit Advisory Group – to help identify the top prospects in the country. Internal candidates also will be considered.

Raymond and Penny McPhee

Raymond and Penny McPhee before the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The Blank Foundation, now 25 years old, was founded by Arthur Blank, a co-founder of The Home Depot Inc. and owner of the Atlanta Falcons. It has given away nearly $600 million since its inception – with the most being given away during McPhee’s leadership.

“It’s been an amazing run,” McPhee said in an exclusive interview. “There was a really good roadmap. I think we accomplished many of the goals on that roadmap.”

Blank said McPhee has provided great leadership for family foundation and the community.

“She’s taken the foundation to a whole different level,” said Blank, who is particularly appreciative of how she has helped nourish the philanthropic interests of his six children.

“We’ve been blessed by having a great staff under her great leadership,” Blank said. “Penny has developed a great reputation, and she is someone who is very highly regarded in the community.”

Blank Foundation’s Penny McPhee interacts with Westside resident Juanita Wallace as community activist Tony Torrence listens during the 2014 Volunteer Day at Lindsay Street Park (Photo by Maria Saporta)

McPhee joined the Blank Foundation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, where she led the $1.8 billion foundation’s grant-making programs. She launched Knight’s national Arts and Culture Program in 1990 and became vice president and chief program officer in September 1996.

During her career, McPhee has been an author of books on civil rights, and she has produced television documentaries.

McPhee said her values aligned just perfectly with the values of the Blank Foundation.

“It’s been a wonderful job,” McPhee said. “Certainly, in Atlanta this foundation is so well positioned to make an impact because of Arthur’s brand. The family is willing to take risks and try new things. It puts us in a unique position. We’ve had the opportunity to implement his vision directly from the founder. This is what the family and Arthur wanted to achieve.”

Maria Saporta
Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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