Jane Chu earned a Master of Music degree from SMU and has spent her career in arts administration and philanthropy. During her four-year term (2014–18) as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Chu traveled to all 50 states, visiting more than 400 arts organizations in 200 communities.
The NEA thrived under Chu’s leadership, awarding $430 million in arts support to 16,000 communities and receiving endowment budget increases for three consecutive fiscal years (2016–18). The NEA’s Creative Forces military healing arts initiative, which brings creative arts therapies to service members and veterans, expanded from two U.S. sites to 12. The agency launched Creativity Connects, giving $2 million in grants that support partnerships between arts organizations and the non-arts sectors, and started the national Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge, in which high school student songwriters compete for publication and a scholarship, as well as mentorship opportunities with Broadway musical theater professionals. The NEA received a 2016 Special Tony Award, a 2018 Drama League Award and two Emmy nominations.
Prior to the NEA, Chu was president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, in Kansas City, Missouri. She holds two bachelor’s degrees from Ouachita Baptist University, an M.B.A. from Rockhurst University, a Ph.D. from Indiana University and four honorary doctorate degrees.