Meet the Coleman Foundation’s New Grant Manager Sean Washington

Sean and Shelley April 2023 5

April 2023

The Coleman Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of Sean Washington to our team as Grants Manager. Recently, CEO Shelley Davis sat down with Sean and asked him a few questions about his journey to becoming our new Grants Manager.

Shelley: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and where your career path has led you? 



I’ve worked for governmental and non-profit organizations, and at each stop I’ve aimed to improve people’s lives for the better. While I was able to accomplish that in both sectors, the promise or goal of philanthropy always seemed enticing. Having been on the receiving end of funding for a long time, I often thought I’d like to be part of making the process easier for organizations who do good work but may not have the greatest resources or capacity. I’ve seen firsthand how the grantee application process was so burdensome or complicated that it hindered the organization from carrying out their mission. I actually postponed applying for this role because I was too busy at my last job, working at full capacity and beyond to keep us compliant with all the grant requirements.

Shelley:  What inspired you to raise your hand to join our team at the Coleman Foundation?



That feeling that “there has to be a more efficient way” and that I might be able to be part of that solution – that persisted. I thought this position might provide the opportunity to use my skill set to work towards that, to learn about trust-based philanthropy and to make a real difference to people and communities. It was a unique circumstance of several factors that lined up for me personally and I knew the timing was right. I took a chance on myself and applied, and here I am.

Shelley: Do you have advice from mentors or any guiding principles that you will rely on as you acclimate to your new role?



The best and biggest piece of advice that I received during the application process was to “have the courage to be yourself.” After meeting the staff and seeing how they interacted with each other and valued each other’s work, I felt like Coleman was a place where I would not only fit in and be me but also thrive. The courage to be yourself will always lead you to where you are supposed to be. I truly believe that I am where I belong.

Shelley: What do you in your spare time to relax and have fun?



I really enjoy being around my family. My lovely wife and I have small children ages 8 and 4 and spending time with them is often enough for me. I’m a huge sports fan, as sports have been a major part of my life growing up. I enjoy art of all kinds and reading a good book whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. I like to ride my bike and when the weather is nice, I prefer to bike to most places if possible. But overall, on a weekend, you can typically find me around the house with the family getting small projects done and just enjoying their company.

Welcome to the team, Sean!  You can find Sean’s bio here:


Sean Washington The Coleman Foundation
Sean Washington The Coleman Foundation

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The Coleman Foundation, Inc.
20 N. Wacker Dr. Suite 3410
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone (312) 902-7120
Fax (312) 902-7124

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