SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.- Ella King Torrey, 45, the former president of the San Francisco Art Institute died. Ella King Torrey was the President of the San Francisco Art Institute, one of the premier colleges of art in the country, and the oldest cultural institution in San Francisco. As the first woman to lead the Art Institute in its 125 year history, Ms. Torrey was one of only six women nationally who head independent schools of art. Prior to this job, Ella King Torrey founded and directed the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, which awards the nation’s largest grants of their type to individual artists working in a wide variety of visual, performing and literary disciplines. From 1985-1991, she served as the program officer for culture at The Pew Charitable Trusts where she was responsible for international, national and local funding programs in all areas of arts and culture.
A graduate of Yale University and the University of Mississippi, Ms. Torrey was trained as an art historian with a specialty in American folk and popular arts. Ms. Torrey had worked as a curator at diverse organizations throughout the country including the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in Oxford, Mississippi; the Whitney Museum in New York; and the Harvard Theater Collection of the Harvard University Libraries in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ms. Torrey had also developed educational materials for numerous special exhibitions, and has taught art history and arts administration at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
A regular speaker on issues concerning contemporary arts and culture, Ms. Torrey was active in local and national arts associations. Ms. Torrey was a member of the board of directors of the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression. She was a founding board member and for four years was the President of Grantmakers in the Arts, the national membership organization of private funders active in cultural philanthropy. She was also currently a board member of the Fabric Workshop, and serves on advisory committees for the Leeway Foundation and the California Chapter of Poets & Writers. Ms. Torrey has served frequently on panels for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She had been a consultant and advisor to several foundations and corporations on the development of their philanthropic programs.