UPAF President & CEO Deanna Tillisch Will Retire Following 2020 Campaign
MILWAUKEE, WI (September 26, 2019) – The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) today announced that Deanna Tillisch, president and CEO, will retire next year on September 30, 2020. Tillisch will lead the 2020 Campaign to ensure a smooth transition of continuing UPAF’s mission to secure community resources, promote the performing arts as a regional asset and improve the quality of life through responsible investment in and financial support of the performing arts in Southeastern Wisconsin.
“Deanna has tirelessly served our community since she began her tenure at UPAF in November 2011,” said Rob Sanders, UPAF board chair. “She’s played a critical role in amplifying the voice of the performing arts and the impact these assets have on delivering entertainment excellence, driving our local economy and educating our children. The performing arts are in a far better place thanks to Deanna’s dedication to UPAF’s mission.
In addition, Tillisch will be known for expanding the arts impact on underserved communities. The innovation of UPAF Connect makes performing arts accessible to surrounding communities by providing professional experiences in music, theater and dance, and UPAF Bright Minds, which raises dollars exclusively for arts education, reaching more than 100,000 youth each year.
Following the 2020 Campaign, Tillisch will have led efforts to secure over $100M in fundraising for the Southeastern Wisconsin performing arts. For eight years in a row, UPAF has earned Charity Navigator’s four-star rating, the highest distinction, for its financial management, accountability and transparency. Further, UPAF is now the No. 1 arts fund in the country in terms of dollars raised.
“It is a privilege and an honor to lead this amazing organization and see first-hand the generosity and enthusiasm people in this community have for our locally-produced and world-class performing arts,” said Tillisch. “I continue to be amazed by the dedication to and commitment throughout the community for these assets, as demonstrated by dollars raised every year. I look forward to closing out my time at UPAF with an exceptional 2020 Campaign.”
Following retirement next fall, Tillisch plans to continue her nonprofit board service and helping families with special needs children. Deanna and her husband, Eric, have three daughters, one with cognitive and physical disabilities who has benefited tremendously from the performing arts. After witnessing and experiencing the positive impact of arts on her own family, Tillisch will continue to promote the importance of arts and accessibility with special needs individuals outside of UPAF.
UPAF will celebrate Deanna’s focused dedication to performing arts education and expanding accessibility with a special fund in honor of her disabled daughter, Kasey. New to the 2020 giving season, Kasey’s Fund will invest in those that are challenged to enjoy the performing arts, bringing distinct experiences to better their lives – something they may not have experienced otherwise. More information will be announced with the 2020 Campaign.
The United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) has been setting the stage since 1967 by providing critical investment in our region’s vibrant performing arts scene. UPAF’s mission is to secure community resources, promote the performing arts as a regional asset and improve the quality of life through responsible investment in and financial support of the performing arts in Southeastern Wisconsin. In 2019 UPAF raised nearly $12 million to support the area’s performing arts environment. UPAF proudly bears Charity Navigator’s highest distinction for nonprofits – a four-star rating – and is the No. 1 united arts fund in the country in terms of dollars raised.
As an umbrella organization, UPAF supports a breadth of performing arts groups that collectively offer something for everyone through its 14 Member Groups and numerous Affiliates. More than one million people are touched each year through performances, educational outreach, special events and community partnerships.