Remembering Peggy Amsterdam

December 29, 2009

By Amy L. Murphy, Managing Director

We have been blessed in Philadelphia to have had leadership from an extraordinary woman, Peggy Amsterdam. As head of the Cultural Alliance, Peggy took a small and somewhat successful service organization and turned it into a power house in advocacy for the arts. Her intelligent and perseverant defense of the arts played a huge role in thwarting efforts this fall to eliminate funding for the arts in Pennsylvania.

Peggy died on Saturday. Throughout this fall’s intense campaign to save the arts in Pennsylvania, Peggy was being treated for an aggressive and rare cancer. And yet she was still at the head of this fight, refusing to give in to the effects of her treatment and making sure that her presence and her passionate views were known.

While I had known Peggy since she moved back to Philadelphia from Delaware, where she headed up Delaware‘s State Arts Fund, I became friends with her in 2005. She and I attended a program at Stanford that was professionally transformative for us both. In that time we shared our views (and love) for the city in which we lived and gained perspective on the impact that we could have on the arts landscape and the organizations we served. We also shared a personal bond. As the mother of two sons, Peggy understood the craziness of both my business and my personal life. And reveled in conquering both!

Peggy had a great sense of responsibility and took mentorship very seriously. She informally mentored me since 2005, sharing her great perspective and wisdom. I felt honored for this great gift and will always be grateful. She also took the time in her busy schedule to talk to Arden apprentices, young professionals who gained a great deal from her sharing of her professional path.

But ultimately what I will remember most about Peggy is her dynamic personality, her style (boy could she dress), her sparkling energy that was always ready for a challenge and to try something new, and her great love of her family and friends.

Her obituary can be found at:

I am thankful for the gift that was her friendship.

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