Unmi Song, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation

TITLE: President

FUNDING AREAS: HIV/AIDS, arts, education, employment, elementary education, health care, minority issues, immigrant issues, and secondary education

CONTACT: usong@fryfoundation.org, 312-580-0310

IP TAKE: Song's background in philanthropy is in employment, but that's not one of the biggest funding areas at Fry. She's well-versed in the foundation's art and education programs, so nonprofits have a lot of opportunities in these areas.

PROFILE: Unmi Song started her career in banking, but she's made an incredibly smooth transition into the world of philanthropy. She joined the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation in 2003 and was promoted to the position of president as of July 2013.

After receiving a bachelor's in economics and an MBA in finance and international business from the University of Chicago, Song began raking in expertise in the financial sector. She served as vice president at Bankers Trust Company and worked at CitiCorp Investment Bank in New York, the First National Bank of Chicago, and Gold Star Tele-Electric Company in Seoul, Korea.

Song later switched gears and joined Chicago's Joyce Foundation, where she focused on welfare issues and job training in the employment program. She solidified her transition by becoming involved with other non-profit organizations and was even appointed by President Obama to sit on the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She joined the board of the Alliance for the Great Lakes in 2009 and has served on the boards of the Donors Forum of Illinois, the Asian American Justice Center, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.

Clearly, Song has been a role model not only for Chicago foundation leaders but also for the Asian community as a whole. She's been a featured speaker for prominent Asian networks, such as Chicago Taiwanese American Professionals, because of her background, expertise, and devotion to the public good. She's been at the forefront of staffing changes as they occur around the Fry office, making public statements about the direction of the foundation's grantmaking and keeping everyone focused on common goals.

Although Song's experience lies in employment, shequickly grasped Fry's concepts of education and arts funding. In a recent staffing statement relevant to Fry's arts education program, Song commented, "We are proud of the work of the foundation's grantees; we believe we are supporting many of the strongest arts education programs in Chicago; and we are not planning major changes."

In early 2013, Song announced a few changes to Fry's education program: "The Foundation has decided to take a hiatus from funding in the Teacher Professional Development area.... Given the new priorities in CPS and the challenges our Teacher Professional Development grantees are experiencing, the Foundation believes a hiatus will provide an opportunity for the Foundation to review its teacher professional development grantmaking strategy in order to address the current professional development needs of CPS teachers and how to help our grantees do their best work."

Although education and the arts continue to be primary focus areas for the foundation, Song hasn't forgotten about heath and youth services needed around the city. She collaborated with several social service agencies to advocate for a children's counseling program aimed at breaking the barriers that hinder mental health programs. "We hope that this dynamic partnership will have a significant impact on the way mental health providers evaluate their services, so that Chicago's children can benefit fro the most effective, highest quality mental health services possible," she said in a press release.

To learn more about funding eligibility, deadlines, and grant application procedures, check out the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation's Before You Apply page.

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