Shawn Landres

About Shawn

Shawn Landres connects people, ideas and resources, enabling community leaders to expand what they know, adapt how they think, and redefine what is possible. A Chair Emeritus of the Los Angeles County Quality & Productivity Commission, which oversees the nation’s oldest and largest local government innovation fund, and a past chair of the City of Santa Monica Planning Commission, he is co-founder of Jumpstart Labs and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

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 Obama 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; the City of Santa Monica Planning Commission, which regulates and makes recommendations regarding land use, mobility, and infrastructure; and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Financial Oversight Committee, which provides independent review and public education related to finances, budget, and audit. Currently a Senior Fellow at UCLA Luskin’s School of Public Affairs, 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. 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 has advised SPARK Neuro and Tala, among other enterprises. He was an inaugural (2009) Ariane de Rothschild Fellow (Social Entrepreneurship and Cross-Cultural Network) and an International Nahum Goldmann Fellow (2010, 2012); he is a member of the ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators, the Selah Leadership Network, and the New Leaders Project, as well as an advisor to the Nexus Global Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship and the Future of Cities initiative. In 2016, he joined the Board of Directors of the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council.

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. 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. Shawn was a 2015-16 California Connections Fellow of the Southern California Leadership Network, which in 2017 selected him as a 30th anniversary “30-in-30” alumni honoree.

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, as well as innovative reports on charitable giving and civic leadership in Los Angeles.

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.

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.

Shawn is a former member, and three-time chair, of the City of Santa Monica Social Services Commission. A former charter co-chair of the Clinton Foundation Millennium Network Leadership Council, he was founding chair of the Tikkun (social justice) pillar on IKAR’s Leadership Council, helped found 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 is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry and of the Sh’ma Advisory Board. Shawn 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. He also served on the Program Committee and the Applied Religious Studies 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.

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