Graham Finney

Libraries have played a significant role in Graham Finney’s life, from exploring books as a child in his local library to doing research and writing these days at the Free Library of Philadelphia. This year, he decided to strongly support the Free Library by making a bequest to the Free Library Foundation through his estate.

“My planned gift is an investment in peoples’ education and connection to ideas, topics, and relationships needed to live a quality life in today’s fast-changing world,” he says. “The Free Library bridges past, present, and future, both the written and digital worlds, and is accessible to all. The Library serves all ages, races, incomes, and backgrounds, which is something that very few major institutions are committed to doing. My planned gift isn’t by any means enormous, but I know it will be carefully used and added sensibly to others when received.”

Graham is a retired urban planner and management consultant. He came to Philadelphia as Deputy Executive Director of the Planning Commission and later served as its Chair under Mayor W. Wilson Goode, Sr. As a Deputy Superintendent of Schools, he worked closely with Board Chair Richardson Dilworth. After serving as Commissioner of Addiction Services in New York City, he returned to Philadelphia to start up and manage several civic and business organizations. As a founding board member of Mastery Charter Schools, Graham holds a deep commitment to the importance of libraries as community centers.

“I’m always working on something that takes me to a library’s peace and quiet,” he says. “I prize spending hours writing and reading in various reference rooms at the Parkway Central Library, in between coffee and fig bars at the H.O.M.E.Page Café.”

When he’s not working on his own writing, Graham and his wife, Katharine—a retired teacher who brought her students to Parkway Central’s Rare Book Department annually—enjoy attending the award-winning Author Events Series. They have four children and nine grandchildren and live in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy neighborhood.

Read more Donor Profiles

For more information, please contact The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation at 215-567-7710 or