Gwendolyn Perry Davis named Sr. Director of Operations at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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Gwendolyn Perry Davis named Sr. Director of Operations at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Prior to her promotion, Perry Davis was the MCA’s Senior Director of Development, leading all of the fundraising efforts at the museum, and championing the arts to ensure the financial health of the museum. Photo: Maria Ponce.

CHICAGO, IL.- Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, today announced the promotion of Gwendolyn Perry Davis as the new Senior Director of Operations at the MCA. In this role, Perry Davis will be responsible for the strategic and creative leadership of the museum’s operations division including human resources, information technology, facilities, security, as well as the collections and exhibitions department. She will also continue directing COVID-19 planning while monitoring local and national requirements for cultural institutions.

Grynsztejn says, “We are thrilled to announce that we have filled this impactful senior position at the MCA with Gwen Perry Davis, an exceptional strategist and negotiator who has been a guiding force in the success of our development and fundraising goals. As the museum continues to evolve, especially since the COVID era, we recognize the need for an institutional director who has worked cross-departmentally with the confidence and respect of the staff. We are excited to have Gwen bring her experience, leadership, and creative ideas to the operations side of our museum where she has already forged an incredibly accomplished career.”

Perry Davis said, "I am honored to lead the MCA's operations at a pivotal moment when the museum is implementing our strategic plan that embeds equity initiatives across everything we do, from new staff and leadership training, to our initiatives with youth and internships. I see opportunities for changes to further create a supportive and safe environment for staff and visitors. I am deeply committed to continuing to improve the functions and operations of the museum to build structural change with greater transparency and input from the staff and Board towards our vision. We know we have work to do, and we are focused on turning words into actions.”

Prior to her promotion, Perry Davis was the MCA’s Senior Director of Development, leading all of the fundraising efforts at the museum, and championing the arts to ensure the financial health of the museum. She was vital to the recovery of the museum during its five-month COVID-19 closure, securing grants that allowed the museum to retain its staff and continue its efforts toward racial and institutional equity. Perry Davis has built long-lasting trusted relationships with donors, partnered with governance boards and volunteers, overseen major campaigns, and has led through organizational change; all of which enabled her to consistently exceed fundraising goals. Throughout her career at the MCA, she has collaborated with contemporary artists and engaged with donors to achieve a measurable impact on the museum’s community. Perry Davis also played a key cross-functional leadership role in strategizing, managing, and implementing fundraising initiatives to reflect the museum’s core values and increase philanthropic giving. She balanced those responsibilities with overseeing a portfolio of individual, corporate, foundation, and government major gift prospects while leading trustee engagement.

Before transitioning to the arts, Gwen was the Senior Director of Individual Giving at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the Director of Regional Development at Marquette University. She has served as a board member at a number of nonprofit organizations, including as president of the Indiana Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and as a board member of the Center of Philanthropy Alumni Association. In addition, she was named a 2018 “Top Black Women of Impact” by the Make it Better Organization.

Perry Davis is a frequent speaker on fundraising and the arts; and has been an adjunct professor at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy since 2001 where her authentic and engaging lectures help demystify the world of fundraising. She received her BS in marketing from Butler University in Indianapolis, and completed additional educational training at Harvard University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Gwendolyn and her husband live in downtown Chicago.

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