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Adele Simmons

Meet Adele Simmons

The Simmons Center is named in honor of Adele Smith Simmons, a global philanthropist active in Chicago civic affairs.

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Adele graduated from Harvard University and received her doctorate from Oxford University in African studies.  In addition to England, she has lived in Mauritius, Kenya, and Tunisia, and traveled to every continent, including Antarctica.

Adele’s career included academic tours as Dean of Jackson College at Tufts University, and Dean of Students and Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University, where she was the first woman to be appointed as a dean. She served as the third President of Hampshire College from 1977-1989, before returning to Chicago as President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation from 1989–1999, overseeing global grants of over $175 million a year.

As founder and president of Global Philanthropy Partnership, Adele works to strengthen the infrastructure that supports global donors and sustainable cities, including Chicago. She is a founder of Global Chicago and served as co-chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs studies group that produced The Global Edge: An Agenda for Chicago’s Future.

Adele led the region-wide centennial marking the 100th Anniversary of the 1909 Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett Plan of Chicago and was the Vice-Chair of the regional planning group, Chicago Metropolis 2020.  

Adele remains active in the Global Philanthropists Circle of Synergos as well as the Global Philanthropy Forum.