May 7, 2018
Maxwell King, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation and the former executive director of The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College, will be recognized with the conferral of an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and be the principal speaker at the 172nd annual commencement of Saint Vincent College, it was announced by Saint Vincent College president Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B. More than 330 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be awarded at the Saturday, May 12, ceremony which begins at 11 a.m. in the Robert S. Carey Student Center.
Since 2014, Maxwell King has served as president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, a 73-year-old philanthropic organization with more than $1.2 billion in total assets and more than 2,200 individual donor funds. The Foundation works to improve the quality of life in the Pittsburgh region by evaluating and addressing community issues, promoting responsible philanthropy and connecting donors to the region’s critical needs.
King is a person of high energy and high integrity who wants to get things done and isn’t satisfied with the status quo. He is well known as an important civic leader who knows and loves Pittsburgh and is a thoughtful and charismatic visionary.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree cum laude from Harvard University in 1967 and attended the Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
King served for two years as executive director of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. A senior fellow of the Center, he is authoring the first-ever full biography of the late Fred Rogers, which will be released in the fall.
Appointed as the second executive director in September 2008, as the Center was moving into its $14 million facility on campus, King worked to establish a national leadership role for the Center in issues surrounding early learning and children's media. During King’s tenure, his knowledge of education and ability to attract resources enabled the Rogers Center to prosper in its commitment to continuing the work of Fred Rogers. King’s character, ability and reputation made it possible for him to continue the outstanding service launched by Bill Isler, founding executive director of the Center, and his team.
King described himself as “thrilled” to have the opportunity to work to advance the legacy of Fred Rogers. “Fred was a great champion of children,” said King. “He was the strong conscience of television and he was a brilliant innovator and creator. No one, anywhere, had a more positive impact on children’s media, and on television in general, than Fred.”
In the decade prior to joining the Rogers Center, King served as president of The Heinz Endowments, presiding over the awarding of more than $500 million in grants during that time. His strong leadership on environmental and educational issues and on providing more economic opportunities for the disadvantaged, especially for women and minorities, were hallmarks of his tenure. Other areas in which he made significant contributions were in the promotion of literacy, civic design and early-childhood learning. He also served as chairman of the board of directors of the National Council on Foundations where he focused on ethics, accountability and good governance in the philanthropy and nonprofit sectors.
“I learned a lot about the great importance of early childhood education from two people I worked with at Heinz: Teresa Heinz, the chairman, and Marge Petruska, the senior program director,” he said. “Teresa, who is herself one of the world’s great champions of children and early childhood education, also often spoke with great passion about the importance of Fred’s work. Taking what I’ve learned from Teresa and Marge, and applying it to advancing the Rogers Center and Fred’s work, was such a worthy challenge and a great honor.”
Through his leadership on the boards of the Allegheny Conference for Community Development and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, King put the Endowments’ convening power and its grant-making to work on dozens of civic projects with the goal of preserving downtown Pittsburgh as a center of commerce and culture. In encouraging residential development with provisions for housing options that cut across all income lines, the Endowments also enhanced downtown Pittsburgh as a vibrant neighborhood.
King has been actively involved in the Pittsburgh community, serving on the boards of The Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Riverlife Task Force, the Mayor’s Commission on Public Education, the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund, the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Board of Fellows and the board of the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center.
Prior to his work in philanthropy, King enjoyed a distinguished career in journalism, serving as editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1990 to 1998. He also served as chair of the Values and Ethics Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and is a founding member of the Committee of Concerned Journalists.
King and his wife, Peggy, live in Pittsburgh and preside over a family of two sons, four grandsons and two standard poodles, Finn and Cora.
Photo: Maxwell King