Gordon J. Davis

Davis Gordon

Gordon Davis works with clients in the firm’s Real Estate and Tax-Exempt Organizations Groups. Gordon counsels nonprofit organizations and cultural institutions, notable public/private developments, and major New York revitalization projects on various real estate and financing issues. He played a key role not only in founding such cultural institutions as the Central Park Conservancy and Jazz at Lincoln Center, but also in driving high-profile redevelopment and renovation projects involving the World Trade Center and other iconic New York institutions.

Gordon’s experience includes:

  • Expanding and renovating the American Museum of Natural History, including the Rose Planetarium and proposed Gilder Center
  • Reclaiming Bryant Park
  • Expanding the United States Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park
  • Overseeing the planned rebuilding of New York’s Penn Station (Amtrak) and the Mt. Sinai Health System’s Hess Center for Science and Medicine
  • Negotiating 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
  • Negotiating and funding numerous capital projects and facilities at the NYPL, including restoration of the 42nd Street Central Library and its Rose Main Reading Room
Prior to joining Venable, Gordon served as special assistant to New York Mayor John Lindsay and was appointed commissioner of the New York City Planning Commission. Mayor Ed Koch appointed Gordon 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, Gordon was a partner in the law firms of Lord Day & Lord and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.


Government Experience

  • Commissioner, New York City Planning Commission
  • Commissioner, Department of Parks and Recreation for the City of New York
  • Special Assistant, Administration of New York Mayor John Lindsay




  • J.D. Harvard Law School 1967
  • B.A. Williams College 1963

Bar Admissions

  • New York

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Past board member, The Phoenix Companies, Inc.
  • Past board member, Consolidated Edison
  • Past board member, New York magazine, Inc.
  • Past board member, Dreyfus Inc.
  • Board member, various Dreyfus mutual funds managed by the Bank of New York Mellon
  • Founding trustee and lifetime trustee, Central Park Conservancy
  • Founding chairman and board member, Jazz at Lincoln Center
  • Founding member, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
  • Board member, Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Board member, New York Public Library
  • Board member, New York Public Theater
  • Trustee emeritus, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts


  • Medal of the City of New York for Exceptional Service
  • Honorary Doctor of Law Degree, Williams College
  • Honorary Doctor of Law Degree, Bard College
  • Bicentennial Medal for Distinguished Achievement, Williams College
  • Frederick Law Olmsted Medal, Central Park Conservancy
  • Ed Bradley Award for Leadership, Jazz at Lincoln Center
  • Award for Leadership, Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Designated a Founding Legend of Lincoln Center by the 10 constituent organizations of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Center, Inc.
  • Selected as one of America’s Top Black Lawyers by Black Enterprise magazine
  • Selected as one of New York City’s Top Lawyers by New York magazine