Donor Spotlight: John and Julia Hinshaw

John and Julia Hinshaw have been generously supporting Playworks for the past several years. I met John Hinshaw at his offices, where he is Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Approachable and engaging, John spoke about his and Julia’s care for Playworks.


For John and Julia Hinshaw, supporting Playworks represents not only their dedication to improving the lives of children, but it is also aligned with their thoughtful approach to philanthropy. Their passion for education began early. John’s father was a teacher for 40 years, and as he grew up John was able to see the incredible difference that his father made in the lives of his students. Julia is very involved in their children’s (ages 13, 9 and 5) school, and John serves on the board of the National Academy Foundation, which connects high school students with businesses and provides internship opportunities. John also served on the Host Committee of Super Bowl 50, the most philanthropic Super Bowl to date, of which Playworks was a beneficiary.

I had the opportunity to ask John a few questions about their support of Playworks.

How did you get involved with Playworks?

Leaders from around the globe were convening in Palo Alto to discuss strategy at HP, now Hewlett Packard Enterprise. I was looking for an activity to engage the group but also one that offered the opportunity to give back to our community. We worked (and played) with Playworks at two East Palo Alto Schools, alongside of coaches and junior coaches, making hundreds of equipment bags for Northern California schools. It was a meaningful experience for many of the participants, including me. Coincidentally, I discovered that a colleague, Lisa Edwards EVP at Salesforce, served on the Playworks National board, which strengthened my affinity with the organization.

Why Playworks?

Playworks is making an impact on more than 700,000 kids Nationally and I know you are poised for growth. We moved to this area 4 years ago, and we’ve noticed an over rotation on academics with immense pressure to have the smartest kids with the highest test scores. We believe that a happy, fulfilling life requires more than that.

Speaking of kids, your children have donated to Playworks. How did that come about?

Each year, we give our children some money to donate to charities of their choice. We provide them with information about a number of organizations, and they choose. They loved the mission and the impact of Playworks.

Advice to others?

Get out to a playground! Experience the organization for yourself. You will see children getting their energy out in a positive way, solving problems and being leaders on school campus. And, although we sometimes forget, adults can benefit from play too!

What would you like to see Playworks doing in the future?

We’d love to see the organization expand to at least 1 million children. It would also be great to see how Playworks, especially the Junior Coach leadership program, impacts kids as they move through their school life. Other than that, keep doing what you’re doing…decreasing bullying, increasing physical activity and developing leaders through play!

-Patricia O’Brien, Executive Director

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