Administrative Services

A MESSAGE FROM LAURA SPARKS

Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Source: William Penn Foundation

Today, I proudly accepted the position of the next president, and first female president, of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a private college in New York City with a firm historical commitment to affordability, opportunity, and diversity. The decision to leave the William Penn Foundation was a tremendously difficult one, and one that I would not have chosen if not for this unique opportunity. I am profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the William Penn Foundation and contribute to the advancements achieved collectively by an incredible community of change-makers. I have been so fortunate to work with a dedicated staff who have such a significant depth of expertise and to have collaborated so closely with the Haas family and Foundation board, whose commitment to the public interest is unmatched. The Haas family’s devotion to advancing the greater good and taking important and informed leadership roles on key issues is a true gift to this region. I am grateful for their genuine partnership and proud of what we have accomplished together.


My time with the William Penn Foundation has affirmed, for me, the increasing importance of high quality, affordable and accessible education. Cooper Union founder Peter Cooper's ideal that education be widely accessible without financial barriers resonated strongly with me. It is my hope and my goal to help the college continue to serve as a model of his vision for many years to come, just as many of our projects at the William Penn Foundation have emerged as national models for innovation, collaboration and excellence.


I can assure you that the coming weeks will be a time of productive and collaborative transition at the William Penn Foundation. The highly experienced, highly engaged teams of professionals who lead our program areas, our investment strategies and our overall operations are among the nation’s best and all echo the Haas family’s commitment to civic stewardship. My thanks to all of you for making my tenure here meaningful and for changing the trajectory for our communities, our neighborhoods, our children, and our environment. While my professional attention will move to a new city, the welfare and vibrancy of the City of Philadelphia will always remain an important part of my life and my family's life. It has been my sincerest pleasure to work alongside you.