Richard H. Driehaus

The measure of one’s personal holdings is of less importance than the impact of our collective aspirations made real.”

Richard H. Driehaus was a pioneering and legendary investor, businessman, and philanthropist who was deeply committed to making a difference. His modest beginning in Chicago’s southwest side Brainerd neighborhood included a paper route that funded his first stock purchase at the age of 13. He went on to a career in finance that spanned six decades and included founding Driehaus Capital Management in 1982. Mr. Driehaus created the firm’s growth equity investment philosophy, and today it manages over $13.2 billion in assets. Barron’s named him one of the 25 most influential individuals within the mutual fund industry over the past 100 years.

Mr. Driehaus was dedicated to his philanthropy, viewing it as a form of inquiry and a way of learning about the world. After many years of quiet contributions, he established the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation in 1983. In 2000, he wrote, “I have devoted my professional life to the field of financial management and have been blessed with remarkable success. I recognize, however, that the measure of one’s personal holdings is of less importance than the impact of our collective aspirations made real. I have further come to understand that maximizing the impact of donated dollars can be considerably more challenging than earning those dollars in the first place.” 

Mr. Driehaus took deep personal interest in the hundreds of organizations that benefitted from his generosity and believed in giving individuals an opportunity to create their own success. It is this sentiment that contributed to his unwavering philanthropic support of small organizations, many times as their earliest funder. Philanthropy enriched his life immeasurably, and he would often paraphrase Winston Churchill, reflecting that, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”


Over three decades
of philanthropy

Richard H. Driehaus made his first public philanthropic gesture in 1983 when he established the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation with an initial contribution of $1 million. Between 1984 and 1991, the Foundation awarded 125 grants totaling $2.2 million to organizations largely based in Chicago. By 1992, the asset base and grantmaking activity expanded to a level that required a formal structure. A board was formed, the first executive director was appointed, an office opened, and the number of grants and distributions accelerated. For more than three decades, the Foundation has provided impact-driven grants that support the local built environment, vibrant arts and culture, Chicago’s working poor, and investigative journalism for government accountability.

In 2003, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation formed a partnership to provide general operating and professional development grants to small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations in Chicago. Over the course of this longstanding, 20-year regranting relationship, the MacArthur Foundation provided nearly $33 million to the Driehaus Foundation that supported hundreds of local organizations with budgets under $500,000. The program concluded in 2022.

Namesake awards of recognition have become a hallmark of the Foundation. Established to spotlight and celebrate outstanding efforts in historic preservation, they began in 1994 with the Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards. Today, additional annual awards honor architectural excellence in community design, national historic preservation, Chicago bungalows, investigative reporting, and an international audio competition.

Through the Foundation’s work, we carry on the legacy of Richard H. Driehaus and his dedication to philanthropy in gratitude for those who provided him with opportunities throughout his life.  We remain committed to historic preservation, architecture, and investment in the built environment to ensure that urban areas are designed to meet a community’s needs. We believe that the arts play an essential role in cultural life and understand that investigative reporting and an independent press have the power to improve society.


We value relationships and bring accountability, loyalty, respect, and trust to all of which we are part. We endeavor to be excellent stewards of the Foundation’s resources as well as of the partnerships and collaborations we make with individuals, organizations, and businesses.

We value quality of life, effective government, and the unique sense of place created by diverse, inclusive, and culturally vibrant communities. We believe these characteristics are integral to viable, healthy, urban areas. Through our grantmaking, we seek to ensure that urban places are sustainable, accessible, and meet the needs of all who inhabit them.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

We partner with historically marginalized and excluded communities as we fulfill our responsibilities to benefit the common good and support our shared humanity. We envision a world in which individuals of all cultures, races, and identities are empowered and resourced to participate without limitations. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility guide our work and efforts in our pursuit of this vision.

Board Members

  1. Anne Lazar, President
  2. Dorothy M. Mellin, Vice President
  3. Elizabeth A. Driehaus, Treasurer
  4. Christopher Mellin, Secretary
  5. John Chandler
  6. Michael Lykoudis
  7. Lynn Osmond
  8. Ernest Wong

Anne Lazar headshot
Anne Lazar
Executive Director
Brad White headshot
Brad White
Senior Program Director
Anita Alexander headshot
Anita Alexander
Senior Program Officer
Nicholas Burt headshot
Nicholas Burt
Program Officer
Urooj Shakeel headshot
Urooj Shakeel
Arts Program Officer
Zachary Whittenburg headshot
Zachary Whittenburg
Arts Program Officer
Tessa Mazor headshot
Tessa Mazor
Grants Manager
Amy Domagalski headshot
Amy Domagalski
Operations and Special Projects Manager
Photo Credits
Richard H. Driehaus – Chicago Sun-Times