WHO WE ARE
Richard H. Driehaus, a successful investment advisor, made his first public philanthropic gesture in 1983 when he established his eponymous foundation. For the next decade, the Foundation made grants totaling $6,000,000. In 1992 a family board was appointed, an executive director was hired, and giving became more formal and focused. Today the Foundation's annual grantmaking program is $6,000,000; 25% of which is granted in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The Foundation benefits individuals and communities by supporting the preservation and enhancement of the built and natural environments through historic preservation, encouragement of quality architectural and landscape design, and conserving open space. The Foundation also supports the performing and visual arts, investigative reporting and government accountability, and makes grants to organizations that provide opportunities for working families who remain poor.
A native of Northern California, Kim Coventry received a BA in Art History from the University of Redlands, and an MA in Art History (with a focus on ancient art) and Museum Studies from the University of Southern California. After moving to Chicago in 1986, Kim worked in museum administration at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago. She later worked in the university’s department of rare books and manuscripts, where she oversaw exhibitions and conservation.
In 1992, Kim founded The Coventry Group, a consulting firm that worked with libraries, museums, foundations, colleges and universities, and individuals on a range of projects and initiatives, with a focus on managing the realization of institutional histories, biographies, and organizing exhibitions and accompanying catalogues. Many of her clients were in the not-for-profit sector, including Crab Tree Farm Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Lake Forest College, the Newberry Library, Lake Forest–Lake Bluff Historical Society, Museum of Science and Industry, and Northwestern University.
Kim is author of Printing for the Modern Age: Commerce, Craft, and Culture in the R.R. Donnelley Archive (2006), The History of Crab Tree Farm (2012), and Cairo to Chicago: The Courtship and Marriage of Emily Birnie Smith and Harold Cornelius Smith (2014). She coauthored Classic Country Estates of Lake Forest: Architecture and Landscape Design 1856–1940 (2003), and Walter Frazier: Frazier Raftery Orr & Fairbank Architects: Houses of Chicago’s North Shore, 1924–1970 (2008).
Kim serves on the board of the Poetry Foundation. She is also active in the Caxton Club of Chicago (whose publications committee she cochairs) and was past president of the Classical Art Society at the Art Institute of Chicago. She collects illustrated books of poetry and pursues her strong interest in the history of Chicago, especially of arts patronage and collecting.
Geoffrey Banks previously served as Director of Programs & Partnerships at the Illinois Humanities Council, where he was responsible for arts and culture programs and grant-making. He began his career as a Community Organizer with a Chicago grassroots organization called the Southwest Youth Collaborative. Later, at the Children & Family Justice Center at the Northwestern University School of Law Legal Clinic, Geoffrey led a program to provide young offenders with cultural enrichment opportunities as a positive alternative to the juvenile justice system. Geoffrey then led foundation fundraising strategy for The Chicago Reporter, an urban affairs newsmagazine, the Catalyst Chicago publication on urban school reform, and community organizing programs at the Community Renewal Society of Chicago.
Geoffrey graduated from the University of Michigan with high honors in History and African-American Studies. He holds a MA in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a doctoral student with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Gender, Geoffrey taught several undergraduate courses in social inequalities and race and ethnic relations. He received multiple honors and awards, including the UIC Graduate College University Fellowship.
Geoffrey has been recognized for his work with civic, cultural, and community-based organizations. He serves as co-chair of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP), and he is the recipient of the Independent Sector’s Walmart Foundation scholarship. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Amanda, and is an avid basketball and soccer fan.
Before joining the Foundation, Julia Mayer was Assistant Director of Programming and Performance at the Chicago Humanities Festival. Her foundation and grantmaking experience includes working as Program Manager for the Morrison-Shearer Foundation, consulting for the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, serving as a consortium member for the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and working for the Arts Work Fund. For 8 years she was Program Director of Park Voyagers, a community-based collaboration between the Chicago Park District and Museums in the Park that, during her tenure, provided museum staff and resources to 6,000 participants in 74 parks throughout the city.
Julia brings decades of experience as an active member of the dance and performance community in Chicago. As a choreographer and teacher, she has performed and taught in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. She has an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Linguistics from the University of Chicago. She lives in Rogers Park.
Sejal Shah-Myers is a part-time program officer for The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. She works in several of the foundations’ program areas with a special emphasis in Economic Opportunity for the Working Poor and provides fundraising technical assistance to foundation grantees.
In addition to grantmaking she has worked as a fundraiser and consultant to nonprofits. Most recently she was director of corporate partnerships at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. Before that she was manager of donor services at The Chicago Community Trust.
Sejal has a Masters degree in Nonprofit Administration from North Park University. She earned her BS in Business Management at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and she enjoys reading, yoga and riding her tandem bike with her husband, Matthew.
Jenny Melander is part-time administrative assistant. She is responsible for helping with the day-to-day operations of the Foundation.
Prior to working for the Foundation, Jenny taught art in the Chicago Public School system. She has a BA in art from Purdue University and an MA in art education from Aquinas College. She lives in a Chicago Bungalow in the Ravenswood neighborhood with her husband, Mike.