Professional and Academic Bio

John Bare, Ph.D.

John Bare is senior vice president of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in Atlanta, a family philanthropy currentlyinvesting $100 million annually in Georgia, Montana and around the country. John holds a courtesy appointment as Disruptor in Residence at Babson College’s Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership. In more than 23 years as a philanthropic executive at the Blank Family Foundation and Knight Foundation, John has supported the investment of nearly $1 billion in grants around the world. John holds a Ph.D. in mass communication research from the University of North Carolina and has extensive experience in mixed-methods research and program evaluation. He is a novelist, songwriter and photographer whose work is shown in North Carolina and Georgia, and he has contributed articles and essays to Foundation Review, CNN.com, Food Tank, Nieman Reports and other outlets.

Since joining the foundation in 2004, John has provided the creativity and vision to animate the Blank family’s passions across a number of program areas, including education, parks and greenspace, early childhood development, the arts, childhood obesity and community development. John engages dozens of associates from the Blank Family of Businesses who make up the grantmaking committees that shape the corporate philanthropy for the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United and Mr. Blank’s other business interests.

John created the Blank Family Foundation’s Speaker Series and Film Series and curates programming for West Creek Ranch, a retreat & conference center in Montana — all central to the Foundation’s thought leadership and commitment to spark civic action on issues of interest to the board members.

With deep experience in qualitative and quantitative research methods and program evaluation, John is a national leader in identifying and adapting innovative tools for social change strategies. Borrowing from risk analysis, scenario planning and behavioral economics and other fields, John has created practical tools that enhance and accelerate social change. John was part of a 2015-16 national advisory board for The Commons’ Risk Management Toolkit, and his 2009 Foundation Review article, “Philanthropy, Evaluation, Accountability, and Social Change,” challenges the field to differentiate accountability, which sets the ground floor for acceptable practices, from the complex, aspirational work required to advance social change.

John joined AMBFF after seven years at The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he created the planning and evaluation department. At Knight, John created an indicators project to track more than 100 quality-of-life measures across 26 communities. In Knight’s journalism work, John directed the largest-ever study of training and professional development for U.S. journalists, and designed the Future of the First Amendment research project that assessed knowledge and attitudes of 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and 500 administrators and principals at U.S. high schools. In the arts, John directed one of the biggest discipline-specific arts consumer studies. The findings are published in the 2002 book, Classical Music Segmentation Study.

John has taught college courses and executive education programs on both evaluation and philanthropy’s role in social change and published extensively through book chapters, essays, journal articles and newspaper columns. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal appointed John to co-chair the Governor’s Advisory Council on Childhood Obesity, and for several yearsJohn served in a volunteer role as executive-in-residence at Georgia Tech’s Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship.

Prior to philanthropy, John worked as a journalist, columnist and as a consultant to media organizations on investigative journalism projects. For “Transplanting Life,” a Cleveland Plain Dealer investigative series on the nation’s organ-transplant system (Feb. 2-6, 1997), John designed and carried out the statistical analysis of 55,900 organ transplants carried out over four years. His investigation revealed gaps in the organ-transplant system and showed that low-volume transplant centers tended to have higher mortality rates than high-volume centers. The series won The Newspaper Guild’s 1997 Heywood Broun Award and led to changes in federal policy regarding organ transplants. From 1990-1997, John wrote a weekly column for The Chapel Hill Herald newspaper.

John is the author of a novel, Fair Skinned Burnette With the Porcelain Shine (Wisdom House Books 2021), and he co-wrote for the song for an album that accompanies the book, Lassie James Songbook Vol. 1.  At UNC, John completed his graduate studies under the direction of Philip Meyer, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. John was born in Winston-Salem and attended public schools in Garner, NC, where his parents were educators. For 28 years, John was married to Elizabeth Ross Warren of Concord, NC, who died in 2020 from Covid-19. John has two rescue dogs, Isadora and Winston.

Complete CV