President Emeritus

Dave began his work with the foundation in 1971 at the request of Tom Watson Jr, then CEO and Chairman of IBM. He became an advisory board member in 1977 and completed his 51 year engagement with the foundation in December 2022 as Board President. Under Dave's stewardship the foundation developed the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship (2001), moved from Providence to New York City (2006) and integrated its programs into a public-facing foundation (2014). Dave brought global perspective, cross-sector relationships and deep management experience to the foundation from his long career that spanned technology, the arts, higher education and philanthropy in equally high measure.

After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a BS in marketing in 1956, Dave joined IBM as a sales representative, rising over a 36-year career to the role of CEO and President of IBM Europe, retiring in 1992. From 1999 to 2005 Dave was the President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world's most comprehensive art history institutions. As chief administrative officer he transformed the MET's technology and human resources operations, improved relationships with all levels of New York City government, and advanced vital construction programs.

Dave's extensive commitment to higher education and philanthropy included his leadership with Brown University where he was a two-time trustee, senior fellow, chair of the Watson Institute for International Studies Board of Overseers and a member of the Advisory Council on Computing and Information Technology. His 20 years of service to Brown helped shape its contemporary mission. He was recognized with a Doctor of Humane Letters in 2015.

As a board director, Dave helped steer many influential institutions including the American University in Paris, NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, The New York Philharmonic, and the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans among many others. The Watson Foundation would not be what it is today without his long commitment. Beyond guiding the foundation's staff and operations for over 30 years, he was engaged in the awarding of over 3200 Watson Fellows, nearly every one, since the foundation began granting fellowships in 1969.