When Mark Paris (BM ’84, Voice) steps down in May from his leadership role with the Peabody National Advisory Council, he will leave behind a stronger, more effective organization, well-positioned for future growth.
Mr. Paris, who has been the PNAC chair since 2009, served on the search committee for Dean Fred Bronstein and restructured and diversified the council during his tenure. “The chair’s job is to find ways for people to engage with Peabody’s strategy,” Mr. Paris says. “I wanted to give the board an opportunity to make substantive contributions.”
A baritone, Mr. Paris studied opera at Peabody and briefly sang professionally before becoming a Wall Street banker. He is currently a managing director and venture capital fund manager at Citi. His musical training, he says, prepared him for the rigors of Wall Street and gave him the kind of perspective that helped him weather life’s challenges, especially the financial crisis of 2008.
Johns Hopkins University Provost Robert Lieberman worked closely with Mr. Paris in the search for the new dean and the leadership transition that followed. “We knew going into the search that we were going to have to look in unconventional places to find the right kind of leader to move Peabody forward,” he says. “Mark was one of the critical voices on the search committee in helping us navigate that challenge.”
He praised Mr. Paris for his dedication to Peabody and Johns Hopkins, as exemplified by his hard work and his generosity in making a $1 million commitment with his wife, Tammy Bormann, at the launch of Peabody’s 2013 Rising to the Challenge campaign.
“Mark put in a lot of time, deep thought, and effort to make Peabody as great as it can possibly be. Through his leadership, his example, and his generosity, he has modeled that commitment for other leaders,” says Provost Lieberman.
“Mark restructured the PNAC, put committees together to reflect Peabody’s strategic focus, and
put Peabody on a path for further strength,” says Taylor Hanex (BM ’75, MM ’78, Piano), a Johns Hopkins University trustee, PNAC board member, and campaign co-chair. “He changed the mandate for the PNAC so members could make more meaningful contributions. He also fostered a closeness of members collectively dedicated to the success of Peabody.”
Jeffrey Sharkey, professor and principal at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, was director of the Peabody Institute and helped recruit Mr. Paris to PNAC. “Mark elevated the performance of the PNAC, helping make it one of the best councils in the JHU universe in terms of finding matching funds for scholarship and making its work relevant to the overall goals of the university,” he says. “For too long, Peabody was a well-kept secret in the wider community. Mark helped to shake some of the dust off and bring Peabody into the modern era.”
Mr. Paris, who is active on several other boards, says he believes new leadership invigorates an organization. “I believe stepping down is about giving other leadership an opportunity. I think five to seven years is what you should be doing, and then you need to get out of the way.
“I will truly miss these members. They have become my friends,” Mr. Paris says. But he promises he will always be a passionate ambassador for Peabody. “I really have a heart for the place,” he says.
— Christine Stutz