Ryan DeVore, William Blair global head of private wealth management and vice chair of the Merit board, speaks at the group’s gala
Ryan DeVore, William Blair global head of private wealth management and vice chair of the Merit board, speaks at the group’s gala.

William Blair was presented a 2022 Merit School of Music Corporate Leadership award for its commitment to music education at the school’s annual gala held in Chicago on May 18.

The event celebrated the Merit School of Music, a nonprofit music conservatory with a focus on transforming the lives of Chicago-area youth by removing barriers to high-quality music education for over 40 years. The celebration featured performances by talented Merit students.

“Merit School of Music honors William Blair with our 2022 Corporate Leadership award because of the firm’s deep and generous commitment to education and the arts as tools for fostering personal and community growth,” said Charles Grode, president and executive director of Merit School of Music.

“From working with Blair leader Ryan DeVore on Merit’s board of trustees, I know that Blair and its team are rooted in the value of working together with professional and personal integrity to engage and enhance the Chicagoland community. We are thrilled and thankful to honor William Blair this year.”

DeVore, who heads William Blair’s private wealth management team, accepted the award on behalf of the firm at the gala. He thanked Merit for influencing the future by helping youth excel through music for decades.

“At William Blair we’re trying to activate capital but it’s really human capital … individuals who have dreams and hopes who want to do something with purpose—that’s our job to help,” DeVore told the gathering. “I think about that in parallel to what Merit is doing. They are truly impacting, creating, amplifying, and magnifying lives.”

William Blair has had a long relationship with Merit, beginning with William Blair Chairman Emeritus Ned Jannotta, who received Merit's Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts in 2003.

The late Dick Kiphart, a William Blair executive and partner who served as Merit’s board chairman for years, led the school’s 2002-2006 capital campaign drive. It raised nearly $20 million to purchase the school’s facility in the Chicago West Loop area and to establish a school endowment.

Since 2012, William Blair and its employees have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the school. Currently, DeVore serves as vice chair of Merit’s board of directors.

In accepting the award, DeVore also shared stories about Kiphart, his former colleague and mentor. Among those he told was Kiphart’s life mantra: “If there is ever a question of what to do: be the help that others need.”

“I’m sitting in room of world-class helpers,” DeVore said. “Thank you for being those helpers.”