Gordon J. Davis is a partner in Venable's New York office, where he is a member of the Real Estate and Not-for-Profit practice groups. For over three decades the hallmark of Mr. Davis's career has been a commitment to public service and civic involvement, complemented by a legal practice involving not-for-profit and cultural institutions, significant private-public developments, and major New York revitalization projects. A former NYC Parks Commissioner and founder of both the Central Park Conservancy and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mr. Davis has played critical roles in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and Ground Zero (Lower Manhattan Development Corp.); the redesign and modernization of the Lincoln Center campus (Lincoln Center Inc.); the expansion and renovation of the American Museum of Natural History, including the Rose Planetarium and proposed Gilder Center; the reclamation of Bryant Park; the expansion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park (USTA); the planned rebuilding of New York's Penn Station (Amtrak) and the Mt. Sinai Health System's Hess Center for Science and Medicine; the funding and construction of capital facilities for the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the New York Public Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Cooper Union; and a host of capital projects and facilities at the New York Public Library, including restoration of the 42nd Street Central Library and its Rose Main Reading Room.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Davis served as special assistant to New York City Mayor John Lindsay and as a Commissioner of the New York City Planning Commission. Subsequently, Mr. Davis was appointed by Mayor Edward Koch to be his first Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the City of New York. After leaving public service and prior to becoming a partner at Venable, Mr. Davis was a partner in the law firms of Lord Day & Lord and then LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
Mr. Davis has served as a director on the following public company boards: the Phoenix Companies, Inc., Consolidated Edison, New York Magazine, Inc., and Dreyfus Inc., and he continues to serve on multiple boards of Dreyfus mutual funds managed by the Bank of New York Mellon. As part of his not-for-profit service, Mr. Davis is one of four Founding Trustees and a Lifetime Trustee of the Central Park Conservancy, the Founding Chairman and a board member of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and a past President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Mr. Davis to the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Mr. Davis also currently serves as a member of the boards of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the New York Public Library and the New York Public Theater.
Mr. Davis has received the Medal of the City of New York for Exceptional Service, honorary doctor of laws degrees from Williams College and Bard College, the Williams College Bicentennial Medal for Distinguished Achievement, the Frederick Law Olmsted Medal of the Central Park Conservancy, Jazz at Lincoln Center's Ed Bradley Award for Leadership, and the Studio Museum in Harlem Award for Leadership. Most recently, Mr. Davis was designated as a Founding Legend of Lincoln Center by the 10 constituent organizations of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Center, Inc. Mr. Davis was also selected as one of America's Top Black Lawyers by Black Enterprise
magazine and as one of New York City's Top Lawyers by New York