Arthur Vining Davis Foundations name new director of programs

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (AVDF) announce the appointment of Dr. John Churchill as director of programs beginning Aug. 9, 2019. In this role, Churchill will lead the foundations’ grantmaking activity spanning five program areas including private higher education, public media, interfaith leadership and religious Literacy, palliative care, and environmental engagement, stewardship and solutions.

Churchill joins AVDF from the John Templeton Foundation (JTF), where he served as director of philosophy and theology, a program that oversees approximately $50 million in active grants to organizations spanning the globe. In that capacity, he significantly expanded JTF’s support for inter-disciplinary research, especially between scholars in the sciences, philosophy and theology. He also successfully managed the expansion of that foundation’s support for work in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

“John Churchill is an exceptionally talented leader who has successfully launched a number of fruitful portfolios of philanthropic work,” said Dr. Michael J. Murray, president of AVDF. His breadth of knowledge and expertise in philanthropy and in the fields in which we work will sustain and expand the impact of our major program areas.”

“I am both honored and humbled to join the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. I have long admired the foundations’ commitment to strengthening America’s future through education,” said Dr. Churchill. “AVDF has an impressive tradition of supporting work in important areas including high quality children’s television programming, interfaith leadership and improving the quality of private higher education. I am grateful to have the opportunity to play a role in continuing this important work.”

After receiving his M.A. in philosophy at Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Indiana University, Churchill moved to the Templeton Foundation as program officer in philosophy and theology. A year later he was promoted to his current role of director of philosophy and theology in November 2011. He designed a variety of grant programs supporting interdisciplinary research on topics such as free will and neuroscience, intellectual humility and analytic theology. In 2013, the department he led launched a portfolio of “New Frontier” grants that expanded Templeton Foundation funding in areas outside of North America and Western Europe.  By 2018, the portfolio had grown to $15M in active grants supporting academic research and public engagement throughout Latin America, East Africa and the Middle East, most notably Turkey, Jordan and the UAE.