Edith O'Donnell Headshot

Edith O’Donnell

Individual Arts Patron

Edith O’Donnell, civic leader and philanthropist, has played a pivotal role in advancing the arts and education in Dallas and beyond. Edith O’Donnell’s fascination with arts came as a freshman at Mills College in 1945. Her brilliant art history professor had escaped Nazi Germany with only the clothes on his back, his teaching materials and slides. This teacher awakened her life-long interest in art and art education. Since college, O’Donnell has enjoyed taking art courses at The Dallas Museum of Art and Southern Methodist University as well as volunteering and serving on the DMA Board and Education Committee.

O’Donnell co-founded Young Audiences of Greater Dallas in 1989 (now Big Thought), which reaches thousands of students each year and recently received an $8 million grant from the Wallace Foundation. In 1994, she founded Advanced Placement Art and Music Theory currently operating in 21 high schools and middle schools. AP Arts hosts the annual juried Young Master’s Competition showcasing the talent of 35 local students. In its 14-year history, AP Arts has reached 7,500 art and music students. Last year’s students received $9,962,000 in scholarships.

In 1986, O’Donnell was appointed to The Texas Commission on the Arts for a six-year term. She was also appointed to the original board of The Friends of the Governor’s Mansion of Texas. Currently, O’Donnell serves on the advisory board of The University of Texas College of Fine Art.