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Emily Gruenewald

Hospitality | Entertainment
Chief development and communications officer
Overture Center for the Arts | Madison

Emily Gruenewald is a member of the four-person executive leadership team that oversees Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts. As chief development officer, she has driven advancement efforts during a challenging time for the performing arts sector. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Overture hosted roughly 700,000 patron experiences annually; following its reopening in 2021, it hosted more than 288,000 in-person experiences last year. Gruenewald previously was executive director of philanthropy and engagement for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Education: Bachelor’s, University of Minnesota; MBA, UW-Whitewater

Career advice: “A friend told me to ‘run my own race’ when I ran my first marathon, and I find it applies to everything in life.”

Favorite destination: “My grandparents purchased a cottage outside of Rhinelander in the 1950s, and it remains a place of refuge and fun for our family. We used to just go up in the summer, but during the pandemic we started going in all seasons, and I have newfound love for it.”

As you enter your office, what would you choose to be your walk-up or theme song: “‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning’ from Oklahoma! It’s a song of optimism and opportunity.”

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: “Every big life decision is a risk, and usually it’s for the best. I’m glad I went on that blind date so I’d meet my husband. I’m glad I trained for that first marathon even though I had no idea what I was doing. I’m glad I applied for the position of executive director even though I was underqualified and only 24. I’m glad I had kids even though I’ve had a demanding work life. If I didn’t take risks, I wouldn’t have a full life.”

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