Shawn Landres PhD

Connecting people, ideas, and resources, Shawn Landres, PhD, has earned international recognition for his leadership in social innovation. A widely published essayist and editor whose work has been featured by the White House and covered by TIME, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, he is co-founder and Board co-chair of Jumpstart, a philanthropic research and design lab, where he helps philanthropic and community leaders expand what they know, adapt how they think, and redefine what is possible. Jumpstart’s unique combination of original research, convenings, and funding enables creative changemakers—philanthropists and institutional leaders alike—to realize their own visions and advance the common good. Shawn also serves as a municipal commissioner, on the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission, whose mission is to provide advice, innovative ideas, assistance and support to the County’s elected officials, managers, and employees to promote the effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of County public services, as well as on the City of Santa Monica Social Services Commission, which works to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all Santa Monica residents through research, outreach, and advocacy. Currently a Civil Society Fellow at UCLA Luskin’s School of Public Affairs, he also chairs the Board of Managers of Impact Hub LA, a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities that support a more sustainable world. Shawn lives in Santa Monica with his wife Zuzana Riemer Landres and their two young daughters.

Shawn’s award-winning work is grounded in more than two decades of international experience in organizational development, network building, social scientific research and analysis, and interreligious leadership, including projects funded by the U.S. State Department and the British government. His interest in social entrepreneurship dates back to his 1993 service as a White House Intern in the Clinton Administration’s Reinventing Government initiative.  Shawn is a non-executive Manager of SPARK Experience, a full service digital agency that applies a data-driven approach to create websites, apps, campaigns, and communication strategies, leveraging psychology and direct user research to ensure success. He serves as well on the Investors Advisory Board for The Mother Company, which creates social and emotional learning products for 3- to 6-year olds, and advises InVenture and TherOzone. He was an inaugural (2009) Ariane de Rothschild Fellow (Social Entrepreneurship and Cross-Cultural Network) and an International Nahum Goldmann Fellow (2010, 2012); and he is a member of the ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators, the Selah Leadership Network, and the New Leaders Project (where he serves on the Steering Committee). He is a 2015-16 California Connections Fellow of the Southern California Leadership Network.

A widely published researcher, essayist, editor, and lecturer both in the United States and abroad, Shawn has focused much of his work, first inside and now outside the academy, on convening conversations, where none exist, on matters of intellectual, political, and moral urgency. Shawn holds degrees from Columbia University (BA cum laude, religion), the University of Oxford (MSt with distinction, social anthropology), and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned a PhD in religious studies. Named to the USA Today All-USA Academic First Team, his academic recognition includes election as a John Jay National Scholar at Columbia, a Regents’ Special Scholar at UCSB, and a Keith Murray Senior Scholar at Lincoln College, Oxford. Shawn has co-edited four books on topics as diverse as the practice of ethnography; the interreligious impact of the film The Passion of the Christ; the intersection of religion, violence, memory, and place; and a campaign biography of Bill Clinton. Shawn has co-authored Jumpstart’s groundbreaking Connected to Give reports on household charitable giving by Jews and Americans of other religions.

Shawn’s leadership in faith-based social innovation and his ground-breaking research at Jumpstart on religion and giving have earned wide recognition in major print, online, and specialty media, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy,, GOOD and FastCo.EXIST. Just a year after Jumpstart’s launch, the Forward named Shawn to its list of the 50 most influential American Jewish leaders, calling him “an essential thinker in explaining the new Jewish spirituality and culture.” The White House featured him as a “spotlight innovator” and speaker at its 2012 Faith-based Social Innovators Conference.

Other recognitions include a 2012 Ted Comet Exemplar Award, given once every four years by the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America and the World Council of Jewish Communal Service for “outstanding leadership and furthering international cooperation benefiting the Jewish people.” In 2013, Los Angeles’s Liberty Hill Foundation awarded him its NextGen Leadership Award, given each year to an inspirational leader who invests time and raises funds to advance social justice in Los Angeles. Jewcy named him to the “Big Jewcy 100” in 2011.

In 2013 Shawn was elected by his peers to the Board of Directors of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry; he serves on the Sh’ma Advisory Board and is Advisor on Faith-Based and Interreligious Innovation to The Nexus: Global Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship. Shawn holds advanced certification from 21/64 as a consultant/trainer in multigenerational family philanthropy and is certified as a facilitator by the Center for Leadership Initiatives.

Previously Shawn served as Director of Research for Synagogue 3000, where he managed the launch of the S3K Synagogue Studies Institute, launched the widely read S3K Reports series and Synablog, and conceived S3K’s Jewish Emergent Initiative. He has taught at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University), Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovak Republic, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; and he has held visiting research appointments at UC Los Angeles’s Center for Jewish Studies, the University of Judaism’s Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, and the Institute for Jewish and Community Research/Be’chol Lashon. A former charter co-chair of the Clinton Foundation Millennium Network Leadership Council, Shawn was founding chair of the Tikkun (social justice) pillar on IKAR’s Leadership Council, a founding member of the Selah Network’s national leadership team, served on the Steering Committee for AJC ACCESS Los Angeles, and advised NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. He served for six years on the advisory board of Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (which he chaired) and the board of directors of Keshet, where he remains an advisor. In 2013, Shawn completed his term of service on the Program Committee for the American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest learned society and professional association for teaching, research, and the public understanding of religion.