The Coleman Foundation Board of Directors announced today its appointment of Shelley A. Davis as the new President and CEO. Davis is a lifelong Chicagoan with over 25 years of experience in the non-profit and philanthropic sectors. Shelley is committed to social justice, equity, and serving as a bridge between community and resources. Davis’ appointment will be effective November 16, 2020.
In announcing the appointment, The Coleman Foundation Board Chair Michael Furlong commented, ”We are all excited to have Shelley join us to help chart the Foundation’s future. We had an exceptionally strong applicant pool for this position and Shelley emerged as the leader we need. She both appreciates our legacy and can guide us to respond to the needs of Chicago’s communities.”
”I am thrilled to be joining the Coleman Foundation as its next President,” Davis expressed. “I have viewed my work through a lens of equity, social justice, and inclusion throughout my professional career. I’m honored to have the opportunity to guide the Coleman Foundation through this period of renewal, and to engage with community partners to build more equitable and inclusive access to resources and opportunities that improve peoples’ lives.”
Davis comes to the Foundation from the Forest Preserve Foundation, where she served as the inaugural president. She honed her skills in philanthropy through positions with the Chicago Foundation for Women, The Joyce Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and the Field Foundation of Illinois. Davis is a graduate of Lawrence University, where she serves on the board of trustees, and earned a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently a lecturer at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and board chair of the Albert Pick Jr. Fund, a local private foundation.
Davis commented that this is a moment of great challenge and opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic, peaceful protests, and civil unrest have laid bare economic, social, and health inequalities that have always been present. “There is also a lot of promise at this moment,” she added. “We have the opportunity to address structural and institutional inequities and to come out of this as a stronger, more prosperous, and more unified Chicago community.” Established neighborhood businesses will need rebuilding and new entrepreneurs will need support; our healthcare system needs to provide equity in cancer care outcomes and access to supportive care, and all people with developmental disabilities need access to services that enable them to live their fullest lives.
The Coleman Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation created by entrepreneurs, Dorothy W. Coleman and her husband, J.D. Stetson Coleman, one-time owners of Fannie May Candies. The Foundation invests in ideas and initiatives that improve the lives of individuals in the Chicago area. Its mission is to support access to services, organizations, and programs that effectively increase the knowledge, skills, personal empowerment, self-determination, and well-being of those within its focus areas. The Foundation awarded over $70 million in grants over the last decade, including $11 million in 2020. The Foundation exceeded its typical grantmaking in 2020 in response to COVID19 and urgent needs in Chicago communities.