Portraits in Philanthropy: Sally Stevens

Sally Stevens

Sally Stevens during her teaching career, with students at Aliamanu Elementary School in Honolulu, HI.

By Lori Padua

Friends of Juilliard can be found around the world, and we know that their reasons for supporting the School are diverse. For members of the Augustus Juilliard Society, the inspiration to provide for the future of The Juilliard School in their long-term financial plans is just as varied. For Sally Stevens of Honolulu, Hawaii, it was a desire to honor those she loves.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to contribute scholarship funds for Juilliard students, because I know their level of dedication is the highest," says Ms. Stevens, "At the same time it is a way for me to honor my family because the arts were a major part of our lives."

"My mother was an accomplished violinist. My father, a professional drummer in the 1930s, formed his own orchestra that played aboard cruise ships on trips to South America. My brother Jack played tenor sax with the Woody Herman Band in the 1960s. My own passion was ballet."

Although she trained as a dancer, it is music that now interests her most. After 32 years as a fourth grade teacher at Aliamanu Elementary School in Honolulu, Ms. Stevens is now retired and devotes herself to seriously studying the piano, which she practices up to three hours each day.

"In my late forties I could no longer ignore a long dormant desire to play piano. I had my first piano lesson and became addicted immediately! Now, 20 years later, I am still taking lessons, working very hard, and finding the piano one of my greatest joys."

She also enjoys the cultural scene in Honolulu. "The arts community here is thriving," she says. "We have the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Hawaii Opera Theater, Ballet Hawaii, the Aloha International Piano Festival, the Academy of Arts, museums, community theater, the Mid-Pacific Institute School of the Arts, the University of Hawaii and much more. Remarkable talent abounds in the islands!"

She reports that Juilliard alumni have made significant contributions to the cultural landscape in Hawaii. "I know a number of Juilliard alumni in teaching positions, performing, and in other music endeavors here in Honolulu," she says. Ms. Stevens, a native of the Boston area, greatly enjoys reading The Juilliard Journal each month and keeps up-to-date on all of the news from the School.

Her passion for the piano and her family's love for the arts have inspired her decision to make provisions in her estate plans to eventually endow four scholarships at Juilliard. One will be in jazz studies in memory of her brother, another in percussion in memory of her father, and one in violin in memory of her mother. She also plans a scholarship in her own name for pianists. "I get a great deal of pleasure from knowing that these scholarships will bear our names and that I am able to help future students."

The Juilliard School is grateful for the wonderfully generous provision that Sally Stevens is making for generations of young artists at Juilliard and we salute her for her philanthropy.