Debbie Wright became a CSO subscriber in 1998 and a governing member in 2010, and she currently serves on the GM Annual Fund Committee. Recently retired from Kraft Foods, where she served as Chief Counsel for Technology Transactions, Global Intellectual Property, and Patents, Debbie’s career included a Patent law position with The UpJohn Company (now Pfizer) and assistant attorney general with the North Carolina Department of Justice. In Chicago, she serves on the boards of the Ryan Opera Center of the Lyric Opera, Metropolitan Family Services, Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Richard Linn Inn of Court, and the IPLAC Educational Foundation, and she is a Chicago Illinois Chapter member of The Links.
How did you first connect with the CSO?
Shortly after I arrived in Chicago, a colleague and CSO subscriber invited me to join her for one of Sir Georg Solti’s last performances. It was a rare and greatly appreciated opportunity. I remember it well.
Do you come from a musical background?
I grew up in a musical household where my parents actively encouraged involvement in the arts. I gravitated toward classical music and jazz, and grew up singing in church. I also loved science and math, which harmonize well with my musical interest. Music taught me the values of discipline and commitment to excellence— something I hope young people will continue to access in order to cultivate the lifelong principles required for their success. I know t hose skills have made me a better listener, a stronger communicator, a better person, and provided the basis for my commitment to the arts. They also underscore the relevance of community and the importance of giving back to the arts.
What is your favorite part about being a governing member?
Being a GM has heightened my CSO experience and inspired me to attend more concerts. The multidimensionality of the community has added incredible depth to the concert experience. I am now an integral part of the CSO family and feel a sense of ownership in supporting the Orchestra. Knowing the impact of our gifts as GMs brings me closer to the institution. My work on the Annual Fund Committee has helped me understand what it takes to maintain a world-class orchestra, and I’ve built a closer relationship with the community by getting to know people who love music as much as I do.
Any favorite concert memories?
I’m a Rachmaninov fan. When the CSO performed his Second Piano Concerto a few years ago, it was so wonderful. The energy of the audience brought greater anticipation for each subsequent movement. I loved the Beethoven Festival so much that I attended four times in a week. Beyond the Score is another favorite. I always learn about some new aspect of the music—and it is nice to see lots of new people there. Obviously much of this music has been played any times, but artists and interpretations vary widely, making the experience new each time. And when Maestro Muti is on the podium, the audience’s excitement is palpable.
Any advice for those looking to become involved?
The CSO program book is an excellent source of background information. The program book lists many opportunities for giving back and preserving the proud tradition of the CSO. Learning more about the institution, how our gift matters, and how your gift is put to good use gives you a sense of connection. We have a great orchestra. You can listen to a CSO recording at any time, but it does not compare to being at Symphony Center, experiencing a live performance.
For more information about the governing members, please contact Bobbie Rafferty, director of individual giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-294-3165.