The name of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County honors a business leader and philanthropist with a deep and life-long passion for the arts. Adrienne Arsht believes that the arts matter; that they make us and our community better. Her $30 million contribution to Miami’s performing arts center in 2008 secured its financial footing and ensured quality cultural programming. Her vision and generosity has transformed the Arsht Center into a beacon that inspires arts institutions and their communities across the nation.
Adrienne Arsht has taken a leading role promoting artistic, business and civic growth in the three cities she calls home: Washington, D.C., Miami and New York. She is founding chairman of the Adrienne Arsht Center Foundation. Her recent contribution of $10 million in support of the transformation of Lincoln Center’s facilities and public spaces was recognized with the dedication of the Adrienne Arsht Stage in Alice Tully Hall.
In Washington, she recently endowed the Adrienne Arsht Latin American Center at the Atlantic Council to focus on the role of South America in the trans-Atlantic world. Arsht is a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She co-funded a program there called “Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative,” which provides free, confidential advice to struggling U.S. nonprofit groups. In 2009, she donated $5 million to establish the Adrienne Arsht Musical Theater Fund at the Kennedy Center to support a wide variety of musical theater productions.
Arsht is president of the Vice Presidents Residence Foundation, as well as a member of the board of directors of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Atlantic Council, the Metropolitan Opera, the University of Miami, the Fine Arts Committee of the U.S. State Department, Blair House Restoration Fund, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Leadership Circle of the Women in the World Foundation and Amigos for Kids.
In 1966, Arsht began her Delaware law career with Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnel.
In 1969, she moved to New York City and joined the legal department of Trans World Airlines (TWA). She then became the first woman in the company’s property, cargo and government relations departments. After TWA, Arsht moved to Washington, D.C., in 1979 where she initially worked with a law firm, then started her own title company before moving to Miami in 1996 to run her family-owned bank, TotalBank. From 1996 to 2007, Arsht served as chairman of the board of TotalBank. Under her leadership, TotalBank grew from four locations to 14 with over $1.4 billion in assets. In November 2007, she sold the bank to Banco Popular Español. Arsht was named chairman emerita of TotalBank in January 2008.
Over the years, Arsht has generously donated funds and resources to numerous organizations. She joined the Million Dollar Roundtable in 2004 and in 2008 she became the first, and still is, the only woman to join the Five Million Dollar Roundtable of United Way of Miami-Dade. In 2005, Arsht announced a $2 million gift to Goucher College, creating the Roxana Cannon Arsht Center for Ethics and Leadership, in honor of her late mother, a Goucher graduate. In October 2008, Arsht committed more than $6 million to the University of Miami to support the university-wide Arsht Ethics Programs, assist the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami and support other University of Miami priorities. In February 2009, Arsht funded the creation of the Best Buddies Delaware chapter to specifically serve Hispanics and African Americans with mental disabilities. In January 2009, The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Arsht number 39 on its 2008 America’s 50 biggest donors list.
A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she is the daughter of the Honorable Roxana Cannon Arsht, the first female judge in the State of Delaware, and Samuel Arsht, a prominent Wilmington, Del., attorney. Upon graduation from Villanova Law School, Arsht was the 11th woman admitted to the Delaware bar – her mother having been the fifth. She was married to the late Myer Feldman, former counsel to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.