Spotlight on Alumni Faculty: Jenny Frutchy


Jenny with Cindy Gavett Mumford (BMA ’77)


Cambridge, MA
BMA’s first art teacher, faculty member from 1976 to 1979

My job at Burke specifically was to start the art program. After Burke, I earned my master’s in education at Harvard, then went to Cleveland on a fellowship working for The Cleveland Foundation. There, I mostly worked on arts grants, keeping my connection to the arts. From there I worked in corporate giving and then was offered a job by Peter B. Lewis, who was the CEO and Chairman of Progressive Corporation. His mother had died, and he needed help giving away her fortune. Again, I was offered a blank slate and helped him design a program that supported risk takers, creativity, and results. The company also has one of the top emerging artist collections in the country. Lewis’ philanthropy grew and grew, but his main areas of focus were contemporary artists, progressive politics, and marijuana reform. Lewis was also Chairman of the Guggenheim Museum for about ten years, so I was quite close to museum operations and intrigued!

Lewis died in 2013, and by that time I’d overseen his contributions of more than $600 million to various non-profits over 28 years! I also worked for Lewis’ ex-wife from 2006-2016, who was the curator of Progressive’s art collection and developed her philanthropy program aimed primarily at supporting emerging artists.

Currently, I am working on the small book project that are “bullets or quips” that Lewis lived by. He was an iconoclast who spewed spitfire….such as ” Risk, Learn and Grow…admit error, fix it, and move on.” ….stay tuned!

Art still is part of my life. I was the Chair of MIT’s List Center for the Visual Arts Committee for ten years. Nowadays, I am redesigning my kitchen, have a colorful flower and herb garden (thanks to Noel Lyons), and do so many little artsy things all the time- creating posters, wrapping paper, and more…and would you believe… I still have a whole portfolio of some of my favorite artworks that students at Burke did during my tenure!