distinguished alumni award
Anne Hawley, 66BA, keenly understands the art of nonprofit management. The one-time Iowa farm girl grew up to distinguish herself in the world of arts and humanities by expertly leading a variety of important cultural initiatives and institutions on the East Coast. Throughout this lengthy and prestigious career, Hawley’s interdisciplinary University of Iowa education has shaped her innovations and accomplishments.
Though Hawley traveled only about 20 miles from her hometown of West Liberty, Iowa, to become a UI English major and member of Pi Beta Phi, her career eventually would take her far from Iowa’s rolling hills. After her UI graduation, Hawley completed a master’s program at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
These experiences led to her early professional work, first as a research associate with the National Urban League and then as a research associate with the Ford Foundation Study in Leadership in Public Education. It was not long, however, before she left Washington, DC, for Boston, where she founded the Cultural Education Collaborative and assumed the position of executive director in 1974. She stayed in this role until 1977, when she became executive director of the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, a state agency.
Under her entrepreneurial leadership, the council instituted a variety of forward-looking programs. Hawley developed a number of art, conservation, preservation, and public-design initiatives. She also was instrumental in the passage of three new laws designed to significantly enhance the state’s cultural life. This work earned her the Lyman Ziegler Award for Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1988. While at the Massachusetts Council, she completed the Senior Executive Program of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Such success helped prepare Hawley for a challenging—and rewarding—career as the first female director of Boston’s famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. When Hawley started her work there in 1989, the Gardner had a deficit of $150,000. By 1999, she had tripled the museum’s budget and increased its attendance by 45 percent.
Hawley implemented other bold changes as well. To broaden the museum’s focus beyond the visual arts, she inaugurated an artist-in-residency program, established a community education program with five neighborhood schools, and began an annual scholarly symposia and exhibition program. In addition, Hawley launched the ambitious Second Century Capital Campaign, which raised $26 million.
Publications such as the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor have praised Hawley for her outstanding work at the museum, and she holds honorary doctorates from Babson College, Lesley College, Williams College, and Montserrat College of Art. Though she maintains a busy museum schedule, Hawley still finds time to serve as a trustee on the boards of the Association of Art Museum Directors, Save Venice, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Fenway Alliance of Boston. Hawley is also an active member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Massachusetts Woman’s Forum.
Such broadly diverse experiences have helped define Anne Hawley as a visionary cultural leader. She is living proof that a liberal arts education from the University of Iowa can prepare students for lifetimes of exceptional achievement.