As a philanthropist, she has dedicated herself to the fine arts and music education. She is passionate about both visual arts and performing arts, and so has lent her support to both domestic and international programs in these fields.
Carolyn Powers is on the Board of Directors at the Grammy Museum, a Los Angeles museum dedicated to the appreciation of the art of music through the history of the Grammy Awards. After living in Los Angeles for over 30 years she has become involved in many local groups. She recently co-chaired the opening night Gala for the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Additionally, she co-chaired the American for the Arts Awards honoring Dakota Fanning and BB King where she participated in a video tribute to BB King. Carolyn was most recently an honorary chair for the Museum of Contemporary Art distinguished women’s luncheon.
In this vein, Carolyn Powers also serves on the Board of Trustees for Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, the Collectors Committee for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Music Center: Los Angeles’ Blue Ribbon, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. At the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she has served the last ten years as the Creative Chair of Jazz. For years, too, she has been involved with the Kennedy Center and is the chair of The National Committee of the Performing Arts.
Outside of Los Angeles, she serves on committees for art and music museums from Washington, D.C. to Aspen, Colorado and New York City. As an advocate for education in all forms of fine arts, she is also a sponsor of the music education program at the Thelonious Monk Institute in Washington, D.C., which provides musical instruments and master classes to students in Southern rural areas, and Los Angeles’ PS Arts program.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Carolyn Powers began her degree at the University of Oklahoma before transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles to complete her Bachelor’s degree of business administration and finance. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in clinical psychology with an emphasis on marriage, family, and child counseling. She has also undergone group psychotherapy training from a private practice in Los Angeles and holds certificates in object relations therapy and self-psychology.
From a young age, Carolyn Powers has had an ear for music. Her ancestral home, Dockery Farms in the Mississippi Delta, is designated by the National Register of Historic Places as the official birthplace of Blues Music. She has since fostered a life-long love of all forms of music.
Returning to her ancestral roots, she helped create the Dockery Farms Foundation, where she still serves as the chair of its board of directors in order to preserve the farm and restore it as an indelible piece of American history. The foundation celebrates blues pioneers, such as Charley Patton and Muddy Water who were responsible for creating the culture around blues music. This type of music has long been one of the most popular musical genres in the United States, and is one of the country’s biggest artistic exports.
In 1982, Powers joined the Lannan Art Foundation, which offered grants to non-profit arts organizations, exhibited art by living artists, and donated art to American museums. From there she dedicated herself to philanthropy. She went on to join the National Committee for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as a Chair, Jazz Aspen Snowmass as a member of the board of directors, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art as a member of the board of trustees. She is a member of numerous other charity organizations, most of which help celebrate, share, or raise awareness for visual arts or music.
As of 2011, Carolyn Powers became a member of the board of directors of Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum. As mentioned, this museum focuses on the appreciation of current music and music history, as seen through the lens of the Grammy Awards. In addition to offering exhibits that celebrate music’s greats, the museum has a strong educational mission to help students see music as a means of expression and a way to shape cultural identity.
Carolyn Powers has, within the past ten years, also extended her philanthropy beyond the world of visual art and music with The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Kennedy Center, and P.S. Arts. As an enthusiastic supporter of causes that empower at-risk or underserved children, she helped cultivate The Painted Turtle, one of Paul Newman’s “Hole in the Wall Gang Camps” created for seriously ill children.
Several of the many illnesses or conditions that The Painted Turtle works around to create an enjoyable summer camp experience include spina bifida and paraplegia, cerebral palsy and limb deficiency, and hemophilia. Powers is one of the founders and board members, and has chaired its annual fundraiser every year for the past ten years. The organization has the capacity to help the thousands of kids in California that suffer from chronic or life-threatening illnesses attend a free summer camp with the needed medical facilities, since many would otherwise be unable to attend.
Also outside of the arts, Powers served as a past-president and event chair for the Doheny Eye Institute, which is dedicated to conserving and improving human eyesight, and The Colleagues, which is devoted to Children’s Institute and Hospitals.
An exercise enthusiast who is always looking for the next challenge, Carolyn Powers has run in several marathons, sometimes two a year: she ran the New York Marathon and the Honolulu Marathon in 1994, the Washington DC Marathon and the Boston Marathon in 1996, and the Chicago Marathon in 1997. Most recently, Powers trained for and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in June 2010.
She loves traveling, fine food and wine, and, of course, arts and music. She is a private art and music collector. Other hobbies include yoga, golf, skiing, and hiking. Carolyn Powers also has three sons.
Going forward, she hopes to expand her philanthropy and to continue her mission of community service. She continues to allocate private funds in order to achieve greater goals for the many organizations she is a part of.
She will continue to work serve on the Board of Trustees for organizations that are meaningful to her and to the artistic community. As an art collector, Carolyn Powers can often stumble across important pieces of artwork that will benefit museums and educational facilities. She believes that her donations are more than just aesthetic pleasures: an art collection should inform, interest, and inspire all who see it.
On the music side, Powers hopes to continue her work organizing events and fund raising for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other musical organizations. She regularly serves as chair for galas and other fundraising events, and will continue to do so.
She will also expand her horizons on community service, as she has already done through her work for The Painted Turtle, Doheny Eye Institute, and The Colleagues. She always strives to help where she can.
Powers recognizes that her role as a philanthropist requires active participation, which can lead to challenges along the way that she is more than willing to face. She also hopes to stay active for years to come, not just in philanthropy of the arts and other community service, but also in her passion for exercise and physical challenges. Carolyn Powers says that Mt. Kilimanjaro won’t be the last mountain, real or metaphorical, she will climb in her life.