- Director of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts since 2000
- Former Executive Director of the Lied Center
- 1999: voted one of Ten Most Influential University Presenters in the United States
- 1996: named one of Eleven Outstanding Presenters in the United States
- Founder of the Swarthout Society, Lied New Directions Series, and Japanese American Cultural Exchange Project
Janet Crow, Executive Director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, says of this candidate inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame, “She has brought a national recognition to the University of Kansas in the area of the performing arts that is unparalleled. Throughout our association, she has been innovative, enthusiastic, and full of the love of learning and trying new things.” Dr. Emily Taylor, former KU Dean of Women, supports these sentiments and said of this candidate, “She has played an invaluable role in bringing to Lawrence and KU to kind of first class entertainment usually available only in the largest cities.”
Jacqueline Z. Davis has proven her dedication to the arts and the KU community. Through her work as Executive Director of the Lied Center, she developed its program from a 10-event, $43,000 program without a facility in 1979 to its present 280-event, $ 2.2-million dollar program with a $20-million dollar facility. Beginning in 1979, she increased the Lied Center’s notability to the point where it is now considered to be the premier performing arts facility in the Midwest.
Ms. Davis has been recognized numerous times for her outstanding contribution to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in Kansas. She was recognized as one of the Eleven Outstanding presenters in the United Stated by the Pew Charitable Trusts in 1996. She was also voted one the Ten Most Influential University Presenters in the United States by International Arts Manager in 1999.
Among her many achievements, Ms. Davis has received seasonal support from the NEA for the Lied Center since 1981, and she founded the Swarthout Society in 1981. It annually raises $175,000 from individual and corporate donors for the artistic program. Ms. Davis also founded the New Directions Series in 1987 to promote the creation and presentation of new work through collaborations between residents and performers. The series ensures that people of the region will be exposed to and challenged by artists of the highest quality with their newest creations.
Ms. Davis can be described as a “Renaissance woman”. She has had three different unique careers as a Staff Assistant for Edward Kennedy, a teacher in the French Department at the University of Kansas, and now as the Executive Director of the Lied Center. In her free time, she has founded the Japanese American Cultural Exchange Project, is involved in numerous service organizations and has traveled around the world.
Ms. Davis has made Lawrence the leading cultural center it is today.