UPAF leader Deanna Tillisch to retire after organization’s 2020 campaign

Has led the fund since 2011

upaf deanna tillisch
Deanna Tillisch, president and CEO of UPAF. (Photo: UPAF)

Last updated on October 2nd, 2019 at 12:00 pm

The United Performing Arts Fund this week announced its president and chief executive officer Deanna Tillisch will retire following the fund’s 2020 campaign.

Tillisch has led UPAF, which raises funds to support arts groups throughout southeastern Wisconsin, since 2011. Her retirement will be effective September 2020.

“Deanna has tirelessly served our community since she began her tenure at UPAF in November 2011,” said Rob Sanders, UPAF board chair. “She’s played a critical role in amplifying the voice of the performing arts and the impact these assets have on delivering entertainment excellence, driving our local economy and educating our children. The performing arts are in a far better place thanks to Deanna’s dedication to UPAF’s mission.”

Following the close of the 2020 campaign, Tillisch will have led the organization as it’s raised more than $100 million for performing arts groups. UPAF said it is the No. 1 arts fund in the country for dollars raised.

“It is a privilege and an honor to lead this amazing organization and see first-hand the generosity and enthusiasm people in this community have for our locally-produced and world-class performing arts,” Tillisch said. “I continue to be amazed by the dedication to and commitment throughout the community for these assets, as demonstrated by dollars raised every year. I look forward to closing out my time at UPAF with an exceptional 2020 Campaign.”

Also during her tenure, Tillisch led efforts to expand UPAF’s engagement in underserved communities through the UPAF Connect and UPAF Bright Minds initiatives.

Following her retirement, Tillisch plans to promote the importance of arts and accessibility to individuals with special needs. In 2020, UPAF will dedicate a new special fund in honor of Tillisch’s efforts, named after her daughter Kasey, who has cognitive and physical disabilities.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.