Women of Philanthropy: Pam Phillips Weston

Pam Phillips Weston

Though her name now graces the new Weston Wing at the Art Institute, Pam Weston doesn’t want to take any credit.

“It’s my husband’s project,” she says. “I’m so happy for him. It’s a monumental occasion for his collecting. And it’s not just about the art, it’s about the knowledge, the understanding and the history.”

And while Pam has a long list of her own passions—most involving charitable organizations—she never turns down an opportunity to talk about her husband’s philanthropy.

“We’re so excited to share our passion for Japanese art with Chicago,” she says. She started to learn about Japanese art when she was dating Roger, who is now a life trustee of the Art Institute. Their first date was to a Japanese restaurant, and on their second date, he showed her his collection of Japanese inro—lacquer boxes worn by Japanese men of status centuries ago.

“Each one is an incredible piece of art, with jewels and gold, and each one tells a story,” she says.

Everyone will get to experience these works of art in the Roger L. and Pamela Weston Wing, which opened in September. It presents one of the finest collections of Japanese art in the country, with an innovative design and 55 percent more space than the Art Institute’s previous galleries. “It will raise the profile of the arts of Japan within the Art Institute, and bring more visitors to this area of the
museum,” Pam says.

Pam serves on the board of the Writers’ Theatre, Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS) Chicago and the Parkways Foundation, and on the Women’s Boards of the Joffrey Ballet and her alma mater, Northwestern, among other involvements. She owned Pam Phillips Fitness, Ltd., for 30 years, and Spynergy Cycling Studio in Winnetka for 10 years. Because of her interest in exercise, she started a program that provides fitness and nutrition classes for young, underserved mothers and their kids in Highwood. She and Roger are also endowing the Pam Phillips Weston Scholarship at Northwestern that will fully fund a Hispanic young woman from an underserved community for four years.

Pam says, “Giving women education—they are the mothers—that is the future of our country.”

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