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John E. Tyler, III, JD

Lecturer, Nonprofit Management; General Counsel, Secretary, Chief of Ethics Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

John E. Tyler, III has been general counsel and secretary for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation since 1999 and became its first chief ethics officer in 2004. The Foundation fosters economic independence by advancing education and entrepreneurship. In his roles, John combines an ability to understand and develop theory with a capacity to execute on and translate that theory into practice across the Foundation’s program areas (entrepreneurship, education, and Kansas City engagement), administration (HR, facilities, finance, grants administration, etc.), and investments.

He also serves as a liaison to philanthropy generally, including by serving or having served on boards such as The Philanthropy Roundtable, Alliance for Charitable Reform (steering committee), The Philanthropic Collaborative, Independent Sector’s public policy committee (advisory), and NYU’s National Center on Philanthropy and the Law (advisory/former), among others. He also has been an advisor to the Council on Foundations’ Evolution of Philanthropy project and policy issues, Columbia University Law School’s Attorney General Project, International Center for Business Ethics at the University of Kansas, Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph School Board, Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, among others.

John frequently publishes and speaks on topics relating to the charitable sector, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship/enterprise, social business forms, and impact investing. He has authored or co-authored several law review articles and book chapters on distinctive aspects of impact investing and social entrepreneurship, including fiduciary duties, regulation, social impact, and clarity about priority of purpose and accountability. He also frequently speaks on those topics, including for Columbia Univ., Georgetown, NYU, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Texas, Univ. of Missouri – Kansas City, Washington Univ., United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Independent Sector, Council on Foundations, Philanthropy Roundtable, Business Ethics Alliance, and others.

He also speaks and publishes on the roles of private foundations in society, transparency, “public money,” public-private partnerships, advancing university innovation and technology transfer, and U.S. policy on high-skilled immigration. Many of Tyler’s academic articles are available through his SSRN page.

In 2018, Missouri Lawyers Media recognized him as an inaugural “Top Legal Innovator” in the State.

Before joining Kauffman, Tyler was a partner with one of Kansas City's oldest and largest law firms, where his practice focused on commercial litigation.


  • NOPM PS5260: Corporate, Private, and Community Foundations: Theories and Practices
  • NOPM PS5140: Social Purposes Businesses: At the Intersection of Philanthropy and Profit 



  • J.D., University of Notre Dame
  • B.A., University of Notre Dame



  • "Giving Priority to Social Good and Public Benefit with Meaningful Accountability Thereto: “Differentiated Social Good” and the Social Primacy Company," – UMKC Law Review – (forthcoming 2020)
  • “Charitable deduction as “subsidy”: does it really mean what some think it means?” (April 17, 2019), PHILANTHROPY DAILY 
  • Less than Meets the Eye: An Analysis of Rob Reich’s Just Giving: How Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better, NONPROFIT POLICY FORUM (online 6/7/2019)
  • “Essential Policy and Practice Considerations for Facilitating Social Entrepreneurship: Commitment, Connections, Harm, and Accountability” in CAMBRIDGE HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP LAW (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2019)
  • “In Defense of Distinguishing Charities from Businesses,” PHILANTHROPY DAILY, October 17, 2018
  • “Structuring for Action and Longevity in the Green Economy: Being Intentional About Committing to “Social” Purpose, Connecting Effort and Impact, and Addressing Harm” 86 UMKC L. REV 937-961 (2018)
  • Book Review: Georgia Levenson Keohane, Capital and the Common Good: How Innovative Finance is Tackling the World's Most Urgent Problems, NONPROFIT AND VOLUNTARY SECTOR QUARTERLY 47:441-445 (April 2018)
  • Book Review: Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Bob Wyatt (eds.), REGULATING CHARITIES: THE INSIDE STORY, New York: Routledge (2017), NONPROFIT POLICY FORUM 9:1 (2018)
  • “Eyes Wide Open: Nonprofits and Public-Private Partnerships” 27:2 TAXATION OF EXEMPTS 18-29 (2015)
  • “A Commentary on David Hammack’s Policy for Nonprofit Organizations: The Values Dilemma,” 7(1) NONPROFIT POLICY FORUM 57-61 (2015)
  • “So Much More than Money:  How Pursuit of Happiness and Blessings of Liberty Enable and Connect Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, 12:2 International Review of Entrepreneurship 51-78 (2015)
  • “U.S. Principles and Policy: Enabling, Promoting and Protecting the Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur-Philanthropist and the American Way” in book tentatively titled HANDBOOK OF RESEARCH ON ENTREPRENEURS ENGAGEMENT IN PHILANTHROPY – PERSPECTIVES (Robert Strom, David Renz, and Marilyn Taylor (eds.)) from Edward Elgar Publishing (2014)
  • “Analyzing Effects and Implications of Regulating Charitable Hybrid Forms as Charitable Trusts: Round Peg and a Square Hole?” 9 NYU JOURNAL OF LAW AND BUSINESS 535 (2013)
  • “State Attorney General Regulation Of Charitable Hybrid Forms:  To Be Or Not To Be Charitable” Columbia Law School National Attorney General Project, Charities Regulation Symposium (2013)
  • “Negating the Legal Problem of Having ‘Two Masters’: A Framework for L3C Fiduciary Duties and Accountability,” 35 VERMONT LAW REVIEW, 117 (Fall 2010)


  • “A Viewpoint on Research for Social Business Entrepreneurship,” – PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION REVIEW – (available online May 30, 2019; forthcoming 2020) (with Samee Desai)
  • “Identifying and Navigating Impermissible Private Benefit in Practice,” TAXATION OF EXEMPTS, September/October 2018, pp. 26-32 (with Ed Diener and Hillary Bounds)
  • “Purposes, Priorities and Accountability Under Social Business Structures: Resolving Ambiguities and Enhancing Adoption,” ADVANCES IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP, FIRM EMERGENCE AND GROWTH, 19:39-60 (2018) (with Anthony Luppino, Evan Absher and Kathleen Garman)
  • “Producing Better Mileage: Advancing the Design and Usefulness of Hybrid Vehicles for Social Business Ventures,” 33 Quinnipiac Law Review 235-337 (2015) (with Anthony Luppino, Evan Absher and Kathleen Garman)
  • “Lawmakers Must Understand Philanthropy to Make Better Policy Choices,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy, February 24, 2014 (op-ed with Alicia Philipp)
  • HOW PUBLIC IS PRIVATE PHILANTHROPY? SEPARATING REALITY FROM MYTH, Philanthropy Roundtable, Spring 2012 (2nd edition) (with Evelyn Brody)
  • “Respecting Foundation and Charity Autonomy: How Public is Private Philanthropy?,” 85 CHI.-KENT L. REV. 571 (June 2010) (with Evelyn Brody)
  • HOW PUBLIC IS PRIVATE PHILANTHROPY? SEPARATING REALITY FROM MYTH, Philanthropy Roundtable, June 2009 (1st edition) (with Evelyn Brody)