Katharine DeShaw Image

Meet Katharine

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 foreword by Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. 

Today she consults with clients across the country in the arts, environment, human services, and social justice sectors. Services include strategic planning and program development for family foundations and other philanthropic entities. For non-profit organizations, Katharine partners with Creative Fundraising Advisors to provide custom campaign management (feasibility study, campaign readiness, case for support, strategy, campaign materials, public launch, ongoing success), strategic planning, development assessment, and annual giving. Additionally, she is available for executive coaching, curriculum development, teaching, meeting and retreat facilitation. 

Katharine has 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 in New York City. From 2002-20015 she founded and led the Leonard and Susan Nimoy Foundation. She serves on the faculty of the Museum Leadership Institute and designed its fundraising curriculum. 



Career Highlights

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Image

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Katharine served as 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. She recruited an international Board of Trustees from the entertainment and philanthropy sectors.


Highlights include securing:

  • $50M from Haim and Cheryl Saban to name the Saban Building
  • $36M for the Pillar Campaign
  • $15M endowment to ensure free admission for audiences 17 and under in perpetuity
  • $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
  • 21,000 members at opening, 50% over goal

Katharine oversaw successful press and social strategies resulting in 1.5 trillion impressions in 30 countries worldwide on topics such as architecture, exhibition content, collections, and programs. 



United States Artists Image

United States Artists

Recruited by the Presidents of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations to create an 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 1000 artists—living in every state and Puerto Rico—have received the grant to date.


During her tenure she raised an additional $33M from leadership donors including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Eli and Edythe Broad, Agnes Gund, Todd and Betiana Simon Foundation, Target, and the Windgate Foundation, including $10M to inaugurate the USA Fellows Endowment. To promote the USA Fellows program, she created the Modern Medici Campaign where USA’s donors were photographed with the artists they underwrote in creative settings. 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.