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New Piano is 'Perfect Gift'

Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Spring 2013

Trustee Kelly Williams ’86 does not play the piano.

But she appreciates the transformative power of music, which is why she and her husband, Andrew Forsyth, donated a Steinway concert grand piano to the College.

“It’s a blessing for us,” Williams said after a concert by Drew Ivarson ’15 on the new piano in Memorial Chapel. “It’s not often that you can give a gift that can be enjoyed so much, so often and by so many. For me, it’s the perfect gift.”

The piano is the new musical centerpiece of Memorial Chapel and the acclaimed Union College Concert Series, which features internationally-renowned musicians in an acoustically superb setting. Last fall, a piano selection committee from the College met at the Steinway factory in Queens, N.Y., where the group picked the best piano for the hall with the help of renowned pianist Jonathan Biss.

“It’s the perfect gift for Memorial Chapel because it’s a very enduring place for so many people and one of the most beautiful buildings on campus,” Williams said. “It’s like bestowing a gem on a beautiful woman.”

Williams' husband, Andrew Forsyth, says the gift is a fitting one for the school that helped to nurture his wife’s pragmatic and artistic nature. “Union is one of the finest embodiments of combining the principles of engineering and fine arts,” Forsyth said, “and Kelly is that herself.”

“It is wonderful to have an instrument which reflects the high quality of the world-class musicians who appear on the series,” said Derek Delaney, director of the Union Concert series. “We are so grateful to Kelly and Andrew for their generous gift.”

Williams, on the Board of Trustees since 2008, is managing director and head of the Customized Fund Investment Group at Credit Suisse. She earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in political science and mathematics from Union, and a law degree from New York University in 1989. She spent her early career in global finance law at Prudential. In 2000, she joined Credit Suisse, one of the leading private equity and real estate investment management firms.

A generous benefactor of the College, she has counseled students seeking careers in the finance industry and hosted a series of events for alumni.

Last year, she was honored as a “Woman of Power and Influence” by the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and was presented at the awards ceremony by President Stephen C. Ainlay.

Since 2006, she has served as a mentor to fellows of the Robert and Susan Toigo Foundation. She was elected to the YWCA Academy of Women Leaders in 2007. She is also a member of the Metro Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. Last year, American Banker magazine named her one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance.

For videos on Union’s newest Steinway, visit