Richard Davis waited until midlife to become a Minnesotan. But as chair of U.S. Bancorp, Davis became a latter-day exemplar of the civic-minded leadership Minnesotans came to expect from top business executives when their names were Pillsbury, Washburn, Lowry and Dayton.
That’s why last week’s announcement that Davis, 58, will end his career at Minnesota’s largest bank in April after a decade at the corporate helm made news well beyond the banking industry. And why, like many Minnesotans, we were pleased to learn that Davis plans to continue an active life in the Twin Cities for years to come.
Since arriving in the Twin Cities in 2002, Davis has been active indeed. This year, he chairs both Greater MSP, the region’s economic development coordinating agency, and the local planning committee for the 2018 Super Bowl — which will be hosted in a new stadium that bears his company’s name and that his lobbying leadership helped make a reality.
His civic engagement credits also include leadership posts at the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Step-Up summer jobs program for disadvantaged teens, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Itasca Project; involvement at the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Twin Cities YMCA; and various efforts to improve early childhood education and eliminate homelessness.
As his leadership of the Orchestra Board during the 2012-13 musician lockout illustrates, he has not flinched from visibility or controversy in those roles. Though the lockout had critics, none questioned the sincerity of Davis’ desire to put the orchestra on a solid and sustainable financial footing. A less-committed business executive might have retreated from the civic arena after that bruising experience. Davis has not. That’s to his credit, and Minnesota’s benefit.