George Family Foundation selects Sean Malone as its new President

Current President Gayle Ober and Malone will work together in coming months to ensure a smooth transition

Introducing Sean Malone, incoming president of George Family Foundation

MINNEAPOLIS (July 13, 2021) — The George Family Foundation announced today that it has selected Sean Malone as its new president. Malone is the former CEO of three significant nonprofit organizations engaged across diverse genres, including the arts, education, parks and conservation, and large public projects. His appointment will be effective Aug. 23, 2021.

Malone, 51, will eventually succeed current president Gayle Ober, who plans to retire at the end of the year. He will be the second non-family president of the Foundation, which was established in 1994 by founders Penny and Bill George. In the coming months, Ober and Malone will work side by side to ensure a smooth transition.

Malone was selected from a field of more than 200 applicants through a nationwide search for a president who will build on the Foundation’s past success and lead it in addressing important issues such as integrative health and authentic leadership — key interests of Penny and Bill George, who serve as Foundation co-chairs.

“We are delighted that Sean will be leading our foundation in the future,” said Penny George. “He has been president of three significant nonprofit organizations and in all three roles, he led strategically from a core set of ideas, principles and values.”

“Sean understands and exemplifies authentic leadership across his many leadership roles, something that is very important to us,” said Bill George. “We are pleased that he will be leading us as we seek to have an even greater impact in our focus areas and a legacy for an enduring philanthropy.”

Malone brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit leadership to the Foundation. From 2017 to 2021, he was the founding president and CEO of Dix Park Conservancy, collaborating with dedicated community leaders to ensure the creation and success of a 308-acre park in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina. From 2012 to 2016, he served as president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, where he led preservation of National Historic Landmarks Taliesin and Taliesin West, extensive educational and public programming, and numerous national endeavors. Prior to that, Malone was president of Ten Chimneys Foundation, the Wisconsin estate created by Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, working with staff and board partners to create an inspirational house museum and a national resource for theatre and the arts. Most recently, he was interim executive director of Journalism Funding Partners, an emerging grantmaking organization launched to increase the depth and diversity of local journalism in cities across the country.

“I am moved by and feel deeply connected to the mission and values of the George Family Foundation,” said Malone. “And I am humbled and honored by this opportunity to serve — to work closely with and learn from Gayle Ober and build on her extraordinary work, and to collaborate with Penny and Bill George, the George family, the talented staff team and the Foundation’s grantee partners to achieve lasting and remarkable impact in the years and decades ahead.”

This summer, Malone will be moving from Raleigh to Minneapolis with his wife Erika Kent and their two daughters. “We are so pleased to be returning home to the Midwest,” he said, noting that he grew up in Chicago, his wife is a native of Detroit, and their daughters were born and raised in Milwaukee. “We are looking forward to becoming active, contributing members of this wonderful community.” In addition to his love of nonprofit work, Malone is a dedicated home baker of artisan sourdough bread and has a devoted Instagram following @sean.of.the.breads.

Malone holds a Master of Arts in Business from the Wisconsin School of Business at University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Theatre at University of Southern California. He holds post-professional certificates from Harvard Business School, McCombs School of Business at University of Texas at Austin, and Ross School of Business at University of Michigan.

“Frank Lloyd Wright defined ‘integrity of design,’ as meaning that ‘nothing is of any great value except as naturally related to the whole.’ The truth of that idea is so evident in the work that the George Family Foundation is doing,” said Malone. “Authentic leadership, integrative health and healing, community, all of the Foundation’s focus areas — these are not separate directions or ideas; they are inextricably related to each other. That is powerful, and it’s how true transformation really happens.”

About the George Family Foundation
Founded by Penny and Bill George in 1994, the George Family Foundation is a private family foundation with more than $70 million in assets that supports integrative health and healing, authentic leadership, spirituality and mindfulness, youth development, the environment and community. Learn more about the Foundation at