It is with a heavy heart that we share that Donna Davis, former president of the Cambridge Public Library Foundation’s board of directors and board member emeritus, passed away peacefully at her home on September 4, 2022. She was 91 years old.
“Donna was immersed in words her whole life,” shared her daughter, Connie Moore. “She was lucky to grow up in a house of readers, surrounded by a family engaged in law and writing. More importantly, she grasped that literacy and a mastery of words offered the opportunity to achieve, to facilitate mutual understanding amongst those with differing perspectives, and to ensure democracy. It was fateful that she would dedicate her estimable skills and energy to supporting the Cambridge Public Library.”
Donna was a trailblazer, a fierce advocate for libraries, an impatient visionary, and a dear friend. She believed that the Cambridge Public Library was the very heart of our community, and that a robust endowment would guarantee its bright future. In 2015, Donna was instrumental in the creation of the Cambridge Public Library Foundation and its endowment, ensuring long-term financial support for our library. Susan Flannery, former Director of Libraries, shared: “Donna’s formidable will power moved us from planning to implementation very quickly. She was a one-woman tour-de-force!”
Donna’s deep relationships, professional experience, and sense of humor made her an ideal leader for the nascent Foundation, and she served as inaugural president of the board of directors from 2015-2016. Donna recruited generous community members to join the effort, launched the Dream Big series, and secured the Foundation’s first major gifts. Nancy Woods, library trustee, remembered: “Donna had a way of capturing the attention of the trustees of the library. She encouraged us to go beyond what we thought was possible and worked with us to make it happen.”
After her tenure as board president, Donna remained highly engaged with the Foundation. She was a driving force behind the growth of the Scribe Society (the Foundation’s legacy giving program), and she was undeterred by the global pandemic. Donna helped the Foundation pivot from planning an in-person fundraising event in 2020 to developing Voices for Justice, a critically important virtual series in 2021. As the series’ co-chair, Donna raised more than $115,000 for the library’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and she hosted a celebratory post-event reception at her home when Covid protocols allowed. Dr. Maria McCauley, Director of Libraries, remembers that Donna “was out in front as a brave host, celebrating the moment with colleagues and friends.”
According to her daughter Connie, Donna “was very proud of her work at the Foundation and she valued her relationships with library leadership, staff and supporters. To the surprise of no one who knew her, my mom was never shy in asking friends to join her in sharing their wealth with the library through a gift or legacy pledge.”
“Donna was very clear that libraries need private endowments to flourish,” remembers Shippen Page, who succeeded Donna as president of the Foundation’s board. “She was steadfast in her belief that private philanthropy, particularly endowments, could enable a library to achieve its greatest potential.” More than a year before her passing, Donna made plans to establish the Donna Davis Fund to benefit the library’s endowment. The purpose of the fund is to provide annual unrestricted income to the library with the principal living in perpetuity. The Cambridge Public Library, the library’s Board of Trustees, and the Cambridge Public Library Foundation are honored to remember Donna with this named fund.
If you would like to make a gift to the Donna Davis Fund, you can mail a check to the Cambridge Public Library Foundation or make a gift online through our secure donation portal. All gifts made in Donna’s memory will be added to this fund. Please email Foundation Director, Katie Welch, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
If you would like to read more about Donna’s full and vibrant life, we invite you to read her obituary, published in the Boston Globe.
The Cambridge Public Library Foundation is dedicated to supporting the Cambridge Public Library and its programs that educate, inspire and respond to the needs of our diverse community.