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Foundation mourns passing of former trustee Jill Ker Conway

General Foundation News

Jill Ker Conway, former president of Smith College and a trustee of the Kresge Foundation from September 1988 to June 2001, died this week at the age of 83. Conway, a native of Australia who moved to the United States in 1960, wrote three acclaimed memoirs, among other books, and championed feminist causes and ideas. In 2013 she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson issued the following statement on behalf of the foundation:

Jill Ker Conway brought tremendous intelligence and compassion to her role as a Kresge trustee, making an indelible impression on the foundation, its history and its mission.

As president of Smith College in the 1970s and ‘80s, she often interacted with the foundation. Her extensive financial and administrative experience combined with an inquisitive nature caught the attention of Kresge trustees, who invited her to join the board in 1988. Until her retirement in 2001, she served both as a trustee and as board chair, the second woman to do so in Kresge’s history.

Though she had left the board by the time Kresge began its transformation to a strategic philanthropy, she fully supported the idea of transitioning from supporting bricks-and-mortar projects to focusing on cities and people.

Her accomplishments in the finance, academic and literary worlds show her brilliance, thoughtfulness and dedication to service, and she will be missed. On behalf of the foundation, our hearts go out to her family.