News & Ideas  -  Four Decades of Democratic Learning: David Mathews and the Kettering Foundation


On Tuesday, September 27, the Kettering Foundation board of directors, staff, colleagues, friends, and family joined on our Dayton campus to honor David Mathews and his four decades of service to the Kettering Foundation. Mathews was president and CEO from 1981 to 2022.



The celebration began with a reception on the lawn. Following this time for informal conversation and fellowship, a program was hosted on the upper level of the Mathews Conference Center. Participants also joined from all over the world via Zoom.

Attendees enjoyed a short video (shown above) that included highlights throughout Mathews’ career at the foundation, and a commemorative book, available to download at the image below, was also given to all who attended.

Speakers included Kettering president and CEO Sharon Davies; board members Suzanne Morse Moomaw and Ed Dorn; and Margaret Holt and Bob Daley, who both worked with Mathews over the past four decades. As Davies said at the event, “David Mathews is a builder and a visionary. Not only did he build the physical infrastructure for the Kettering Foundation, but also what the Kettering Foundation should focus the work on.”

Mathews concentrated his remarks on democracy’s peril and the importance of networks. He said, “If the divisiveness prevails, what we grew up knowing and taking for granted will disappear. . . . the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the peril that democracy is in.” He went on to say, in order to counter these challenges, “we need a new burst of civic inventiveness in this country.”

Davies also made a special announcement at the event. The Kettering Foundation board of directors has established the David Mathews Democracy Fellowship in recognition of the depth, breadth, and vision of Mathews’ leadership, focusing on the capacity of citizens to govern themselves and to resolve their common problems. The David Mathews Democracy Fellow will continue this important research on the work of democracy.