Emerita Trustee Shirley Young Passes Away at 85

Shirley Young, Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Trustee Emerita and dedicated supporter, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Dec. 26. Shirley leaves a remarkable legacy of building partnerships across cultures and around the world to benefit Interlochen.

Shirley served on Interlochen’s Board of Trustees from 1993 until 2006. Among her many endeavors, Shirley was committed to expanding Interlochen’s presence in China. She was a champion for Interlochen’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic and a lead donor to the critically-acclaimed 2016 Academy Orchestra and Dance Company tour to Lincoln Center, part of the NY Phil Biennial. During the Create Amazing Campaign, Shirley served on the campaign cabinet.

More broadly, as Chair of the U.S.-China Cultural Institute, Cultural Associate of the Committee of 100, Shirley created bridges between China and the West through arts and education especially focused on youth. She also mentored young Chinese artists for international careers. In recent years, Shirley facilitated relationships between Interlochen and prospective students from China.

She worked with leading cultural institutions in both the U.S. and China including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, National Dance Institute, Special Olympics, Shanghai, National Center for the Arts in Beijing, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Conservatories in Beijing and Shanghai. These cultural exchange efforts have been featured in both U.S. and China media, including HBO, PBS, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Chinese TV and press, extending the reach of their cultural message.

Shirley was Governor and former founding-Chairman of the Committee of 100, a national Chinese-American leadership resource. She served on the worldwide Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy and served on its Asia-Pacific Council. She also served on the Board of the New York Philharmonic, the National Dance Institute, and the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.

Her board service in education included not just Interlochen but also her alma mater, Wellesley College, as well as Phillips Academy and the Board of Directors of the Associates of the Harvard Business School.

In a long and highly successful career, she was President of Shirley Young Associates, LLC and a senior advisor to General Motors, China. As Corporate Vice President of General Motors, she co-led General Motors’ entry into China with its $1.2 billion joint venture with Shanghai GM. She was later responsible for marketing, distribution, and brand development for Buick, one of the then leaders in China’s automotive industry. An expert in brand development and consumer motivations, she spent her earlier career at Grey Advertising as Executive Vice President and President of Grey Strategic Marketing.

Shirley also served on the Board of Salesforce.com and Teletech Holding, Inc. She was a board director of the Bank of America, Bell Atlantic/Verizon Corporation, Dayton-Hudson/Target Corporation, Holiday Inn/Promus/Harrah’s, the Bombay Company, and was Vice Chairman of the Nominating Committee of the New York Stock Exchange.

Shirley Young was a pioneer and her tireless support and advocacy for Interlochen made a profound impact. To learn more about Shirley’s life, please refer to her obituary published in the New York Post on Dec. 27.