Shelley A. Davis
President and CEO
Shelley Davis was appointed as President and CEO of Coleman foundation in 2020. She has dedicated her career to the non-profit and philanthropic sector and is a lifelong Chicago Southsider who grew up in the South Shore neighborhood. In her early career she provided crisis intervention counseling and policy advocacy. She began working in philanthropy during graduate school at the University of Illinois, Chicago with a fellowship at The Field Foundation. Shelley credits excellent mentoring and training at The Ford Foundation and The Joyce Foundation for guiding her development as a grantmaker, instilling a deep appreciation for the privilege and responsibilities of moving resources to benefit communities, and preparing her for the challenges of senior management. Over the past ten years Shelley has held leadership roles as Vice President at the Chicago Foundation for Women and, beginning in 2013, as the inaugural Executive Director of the Forest Preserve Foundation, a public private partnership, where she raised funds and made grants to support ecological restoration projects in Cook County preserves and opportunities for families and children from a diversity of backgrounds to enjoy nature.
Equally important to Shelley are her civic commitments. She is Board chair of the Albert Pick Jr. Fund and a Trustee for Lawrence University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. For ten years she served as an Illinois Commissioner of Juvenile Justice.
Shelley is committed to social justice, equity and to paying it forward to the next generation. She is a lecturer and senior mentor at University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, focusing on nonprofit and philanthropic organizations’ impact on public policy. In 2017, UIC’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs honored Shelley with the Jim Marek Alumni Appreciation Award, which recognizes individuals for their dedication to the fields of urban planning and public administration and their contributions to the development of the college’s students and alumni. In 2019, University of Chicago Harris Public Policy students voted Shelley Mentor of the Year. Better Media Group recognized Shelley as one of Chicago’s Top Black Women of Impact in 2018 and 2019 and as a Top Philanthropist in 2022. Shelley was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ 2022 Notable Black Leaders and Executives and appears in Who’s Who in Chicago Business 2023.
Shelley keeps herself healthy by biking, swimming and studying yoga and enjoys taking long walks and traveling. Shelley lives in Bronzeville with her husband and two children.