Philanthropy Powerhouse, Myra Daniels

Vanessa Rogers Photography

Vanessa Rogers Photography

If you were a fan of AMC’S Mad Men then meet Myra Daniels. Daniels was president of Draper Daniels Inc, which served as a model for the illustrious Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. From the boardroom to the hallways of foundations, Myra Daniels is a woman who has it all.

Daniels has always been involved in philanthropy. In an interview with the Philanthropy Roundtable site, she tells the story of how her grandmother gave her an allowance as a child. When her grandmother asked young Myra how she would share Myra thought about it and eventually gave away a few coins, to friends who needed it in a secret envelope marked “to a friend from a friend.”

Myrna eventually went on to build the legendary Draper Daniels Inc. which would go on to serve as the model for the fictitious Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

It is interesting how Daniels’ advertising skills contributed to her philanthropic work. In both careers, tasks such as  brainstorming, and selling a creative and potentially life-altering idea  are important.  The need to create buzz around an idea as well as having creativity and having a true sense of entrepreneurship are imminent in both fields.

Another venture close to Daniels’ heart is working with Ava Maria University as she says, “the need is great and the students are compelling.” Daniels was interested in working with the University to make a difference in the college community as well as put the school on the map for its arts program and build the Mother Teresa Museum at the university.

Daniels was also the founder and longtime CEO of the once struggling  arts center that is now home to the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. Davis went through the phone book calling people when she first started.

It is noted in her interview with Philanthropy Roundtable that on one of her first calls she said, ““Hello, I’m Myra Daniels. I have an idea that I think will change the lives of people in this community, and I’d like to talk about it.”

This woman was Frances Pew Hayes, who had a family foundation and at the end of the call she donated $2500. And later said to me, “I have a couple of ‘mil’ that hasn’t been spent this year, and I’ll give you that

Now considered one of the most financially stable orchestras in the U.S., the philharmonic now occupies occupied a new hall and was debt free from Davis’ hard work.

Daniels credits Mother Teresa with being a personal hero as well as a great saleswoman and good humanitarian.


Written by

Elizabeth Creekmore is a philanthropist, humanitarian, mother and Southern culture enthusiast located in Jackson, Mississippi.