Mary Ladish Selander is an oil painter from Chicago, Illinois.  Born and raised in Wisconsin, Selander studied under Eleanor Moty and Fred Fenster at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More recently in Chicago, she has studied under Helen Oh and Michael Van Zeyl.


Previously, Mary was Lyric’s Chief Development Officer, and served in that position from 1999-2018. She was Director of Lyric’s Annual Campaign from 1995-1999. Under her leadership, the annual fundraising goal grew from $11.5 million to $32 million annually.  Mary managed and implemented the Look to the Future Campaign in 2004, the Campaign for Excellence in 2006 and the Breaking New Ground Campaign 2011-2017. Under her leadership, Mary was responsible for raising three-quarters of a billion dollars in support of Lyric. For 23 years, Mary was the liaison to Lyric’s prestigious Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Production Sponsorship Committee and Nominating and Governance Committee.   While at Lyric, she served under seven Board Chairmen and three general directors:  the late Ardis Krainik, Bill Mason and Anthony Freud and was a vital member of the Lyric Senior Management Team. In June, 2017, Lyric Opera awarded Mary the prestigious Carol Fox Award, the institution’s highest honor in recognition of her outstanding leadership of and dedication to Lyric and the cultural heritage of Chicago.


Prior to her tenure at Lyric Opera, Mary was Director of Marketing for the City of Milwaukee; Marketing Director for the Greater Milwaukee Committee;   Executive Director of the Milwaukee Ballet, Co-managing director of the Milwaukee/Pennsylvania Ballet; and Assistant Director of the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University.

Mary served on the Board of Trustees of Marquette University from 2000-2012 and is currently Trustee Emeritus.  She served as a Trustee of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Forum, and the Milwaukee Public Library.  In addition, Mary served as a Director of the Board of Visitors – University Wisconsin Milwaukee, Professional Dimensions and the UW Milwaukee Foundation. She served as a member of the Wisconsin State Governor’s Tourism Task Force and a member of the (Milwaukee) Mayor’s Task Force on the Arts.  She is the recipient of the Citation of Merit from the Wisconsin State Senate and was elected a permanent member of the Milwaukee Ballet’s Board of Directors causa emeriti.

She earned both her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Wisconsin. 

Mary was an accomplished equestrian show-jumping champion for over 16 years.

Mary is married to Larry Selander, attorney with the law firm of Duane Morris, LLC.