Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

Cultivating the Seed of Gratefulness

Cultivating the Seed of Gratefulness

Peabody alumna Ci-Ying Sun recently joined the Johns Hopkins University board of trustees. 

As a new member of the Johns Hopkins University board of trustees, Ci-Ying Sun (BM ’92, MM ’94, Piano) brings a varied background in the arts and business that makes her a valued asset to the board. 

Born in Shanghai, Sun came to Peabody in the late 1980s to study piano. She then worked for top financial institutions and an art auction house while continuing to perform occasionally at venues like the Asia Society in Hong Kong and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. 

“I am thrilled to have someone who brings a passion for the arts and culture as well as deep understanding of finance and organizational leadership joining our board,” says Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels. “We’re excited for a Peabody alumna to be part of shaping the future of Hopkins.” 

Sun arrived in the United States in 1987, after a professor saw her perform at the Shanghai Conservatory and arranged for her to attend the University of Texas at Austin. Shortly after, Sun decided to come to the East Coast for performance and education opportunities. She attended Peabody on a full scholarship and credits her time at Peabody with teaching her to be decent, grateful, and helpful to others. 

“The education helped me establish those values, and values are extremely important in guiding someone through his or her life,” says Sun, who has since gifted a grand piano to Peabody as a tribute to her professor, pianist Ellen Mack, and has supported the Breakthrough Curriculum, which offers core coursework to prepare students to be musicians in the 21st century. 

After Peabody, Sun went into the business sector, where she worked at Merrill Lynch; UBS in the United States, Hong Kong, and China; and Christie’s Asia. She also spent some time as an individual art adviser before taking a step back from her career to raise her now 11-year-old son. 

Now, after many years of being invested in her work, Sun can focus on volunteer leadership. “I benefited so much from what Peabody did for me,” says Sun, who has also been on the board of trustees for the Wings of Music Children’s Musical Charity in China. “That seed of gratefulness was there but was never cultivated. Now because I am lucky enough to actually have financial independence and I can afford to stop [my career], I can focus on some other things in my life.” 

In only a few short months, Sun, who lives in Oxford, United Kingdom, has become involved in several projects, including the renovation of the former Newseum building into the primary location for Johns Hopkins University programs in Washington, D.C. She also has been a voice in the ongoing talks about when to safely reopen the university, which shifted to remote instruction last March due to COVID-19. 

“The trustees were delighted to welcome Ci to the board,” says Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees Chair Lou Forster. “As a member of several committees, including Academic Policy and Student Life, I know she will bring her knowledge and professional expertise to a wide variety of topics and projects. I look forward to working with her in the years to come to advance our great university.” 

Jennifer Walker