John Tyler

General Counsel in Legal

John Tyler has been general counsel and corporate secretary for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation since 1999 and chief ethics officer since 2004. In these roles, Tyler combines his ability to understand and develop theory with his capacity to execute on and translate that theory into practice while complying with the law across the Foundation’s program areas (entrepreneurship, education and Kansas City engagement), administration (human resources, finance, grants administration, facilities, etc.) and investments.

Tyler frequently contributes to the Foundation’s policy work as a speaker and author on diverse topics such as reforming U.S. policy regarding high-skilled immigration, social entrepreneurship and hybrid forms, and improving university technology transfer. He also serves the Foundation as a liaison to national philanthropy and advocates for philanthropy more generally as a scholar, author and speaker. Among topics on which he speaks and writes in this area are the roles and responsibilities of philanthropy in society, challenging notions that foundation and charity assets are “public money,” transparency and accountability, governance, public private partnerships and compliance. Many of Tyler’s nearly two dozen academic articles and book chapters, which have been cited more than 150 times so far, are available at

Among the national boards on which Tyler serves or has served are the Philanthropy Roundtable, the Philanthropic Collaborative, NYU law school’s National Center on Philanthropy and the Law, Independent Sector’s public policy committee, Columbia law school’s charities regulator project and the Council on Foundations’ evolution of philanthropy initiative. His Kansas City-based board service and leadership positions include the school boards for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Genesis School, Archbishop O’Hara High School, the Center for Management Assistance, Science Pioneers, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City. He has had active roles in starting three schools: the Kauffman School, Cristo Rey Kansas City and St. Michael the Archangel High School (in process).

Before joining Kauffman, Tyler was a partner with one of Kansas City's oldest and largest law firms, Lathrop and Gage, where his practice focused on commercial litigation, personal injury litigation for railroads, and employment law. His undergraduate and law degrees are both from the University of Notre Dame.