Cover photo for Richard Andrew Swinney's Obituary
Richard Andrew Swinney Profile Photo
1948 Richard 2016

Richard Andrew Swinney

August 28, 1948 — April 24, 2016

 by Bonnie L. Cook, Staff Writer

R. Andrew Swinney, 67, of Society Hill, former president of the Philadelphia Foundation, died Sunday, April 24, of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, at his home. He had been ill for a year.

Mr. Swinney retired last June 30 after 16 years at the helm of the foundation, which is a manager of charitable trust funds in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Under Mr. Swinney's tenure, the foundation's asset base grew from $148 million in 1998 to $370 million, with 78 percent of the funds endowed.

The number of component charitable funds at the foundation more than quadrupled under his leadership.

Among those that joined the organization were the Fund for Children, a project of the Eagles and the Phillies to help city youth; the Financial Literacy Fund of TruMark Financial; Philadelphia's Haiti Relief Fund; and GlaxoSmithKline's Opportunity Scholarship Fund.

The foundation also was the first home to Alexandra Scott's Lemonade Stand Fund. Since the Wynnewood girl's death in 2004, Alex's Lemonade Stand has become a national campaign to find a cure for childhood cancer.

"Andrew did a superb job as president of the Philadelphia Foundation for 16 years," said Lawrence J. Beaser, chair of the foundation's board of managers. "He was widely respected not just in greater Philadelphia, but as a national community foundation leader. His dedicated service enriched the quality of life for many throughout the region, as he tirelessly promoted funding and support for the nonprofit sector."

"Andrew will be greatly missed," said Pedro A. Ramos, who succeeded Mr. Swinney as president and CEO of the foundation. "He built an organization highly valued for its role in strengthening regional nonprofits. He was known widely for his warmth, wisdom, and good humor."

Before Mr. Swinney's work here, he spent seven years directing the Oshkosh (Wis.) Foundation.

"During his tenure in the philanthropic industry, Andrew more than doubled the assets of both foundations, which increased the impact on communities," said his wife, Leslie Kase.

Prior to that, he logged two decades in the hospitality industry, including a stint in the early 1980s as general manager of the former Philadelphia Sheraton Hotel in Center City.

Born in Albuquerque, N.M., and raised in England and Scotland, Mr. Swinney never lost his English accent. His wife described him as an adventurer, humanitarian, and philanthropist.

A graduate of Cornell University, Mr. Swinney decided to redirect his energy from the private sector to the nonprofit because he felt called to serve myriad social and earth-related causes.

"He was passionate about the city, the disadvantaged, education, world wildlife, and the environment," she said.

As the leader of a major foundation, Mr. Swinney was often called upon to state his opinions about what the role of a nonprofit should be.

He believed strongly that the philanthropic sector should be more collaborative, and that nonprofits should strike a balance between philanthropic fervor and business.

"We need to have some form of collective approach - the rising of all boats. The corporate sector is making megabucks, and yet we have high unemployment, high poverty, and high dropout rates. We need the sectors to come together, and the community as a whole, to make a collective impact," Mr. Swinney told in a Q&A on Jun. 5, 2014.

"Nonprofits could be run more like businesses, and focus more on delivering on their operating budgets," he was quoted as saying. "Too many people are passionate about whatever it is they do, and forget the simple business of it."

Mr. Swinney was recognized for his youth advocacy work with the 2015 Alan Lerner Child Advocacy Award from the Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research; the 2010 Distinguished Service Award from Philadelphia Young Playwrights; and the 2006 "Men Making a Difference" Humanitarian Award.

"His quiet and stiff-upper-lip demeanor belied the fierceness with which he advocated for the quality of life for others," his wife said.

In the course of representing the Philadelphia Foundation, he enjoyed interacting with notables, including President Bill Clinton and members of the British royal family, but he was most engaged when interacting with the individuals the foundation served, his wife said.

A self-described introvert, he enjoyed spending time with family, cooking, playing squash and rugby, and traveling. He had climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mr. Swinney's first wife, Donna, died in 1992. He married Kase in 1999.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, John, and a daughter, Meredith 

At his request, there will be no services. Burial will be private.

Donations may be made to the Andrew Swinney Fund at the Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia 19104.


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