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 awards approximately $5,000,000 annually in grants, a portion of which is in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The Driehaus Foundation benefits individuals and communities by supporting the preservation and enhancement of the built and natural environments through historic preservation in neighborhoods throughout Chicago, encouragement of quality architectural and landscape design, and conservation of open space. The Foundation also supports arts and culture, investigative reporting and government accountability, and organizations that provide opportunities for working poor people.
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 served as museum administrator at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago. She later oversaw exhibitions and conservation at the university’s department of rare books and manuscripts.
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 and 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, Newberry Library, Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society, Museum of Science and Industry, and Northwestern University.
Kim is the 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 served on the board of the Poetry Foundation from 2012 to 2015 and was president of the Classical Art Society at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1997 to 1999. She is active in the Caxton Club of Chicago (whose publications committee she co-chairs). She collects illustrated books of poetry and pursues her strong interest in the history of Chicago, especially arts patronage and collecting.
Senior Program Officer
Geoffrey Banks previously served as Director of Programs & Partnerships at the Illinois Humanities Council. 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 news magazine; 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 an 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 served as co-chair of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP).
Senior Program Officer
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 eight 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 six thousand participants in seventy-four 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.
Nicholas Burt previously served as Grants Administrator at the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation. He is a member of the Grants Managers Network (GMN) and past presenter at GMN conferences on the topics of electronic board books and foundation data tools. His interests within the field include practices to streamline the grantmaking process for grantees and applicants. His work experience includes positions at several nonprofits in the social services and the consulting firm of Grenzebach Glier and Associates. He also taught elementary-aged children with AmeriCorps VISTA on the Texas-Mexico border. Nicholas holds a BS in Journalism from Northwestern University and lives in Logan Square.
Sejal Shah-Myers is a part-time program officer for the Foundation. She works in several of the Foundation’s 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 an MA 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.
Before joining the Foundation, Amy spent nine years at the Ralph Lauren Corporation, where, most recently, she was the Brand Presentation Manager of the Midwest region. She also served as the Executive Assistant to the President & COO of the Polo Retail Group in New York. Her background also includes an executive assistant position at MTV Networks.
Amy graduated from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, New York. She enjoys listening to rock steady music and spending time with her family. She lives in Wicker Park.