John and Alison Ferring receive Harris Award

Couple was honored for commitment to St. Louis community

Mary McKay (center), vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives, presents the 2022 Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award to John and Alison Ferring during a June 8 luncheon at the Whittemore House. (Photo: Danny Reise/Washington University)

John and Alison Ferring were honored with the 2022 Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award June 8 during a luncheon at the Whittemore House.

Mary McKay, vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives at Washington University in St. Louis, hosted the luncheon. Also present was Michael Loynd, chair of the Harris Award committee for the past 12 years.

“Alison and John, before I congratulate you, let me first thank you,” McKay said. “Thank you for your decades of service to St. Louis and to WashU, and for advancing our mission with your time, wisdom and resources.”

The Harris Award was established in 2000 in honor of the late Jane and Whitney Harris to recognize those who significantly contribute to the culture and welfare of the greater St. Louis community. Each year, the Harris Award committee chooses a St. Louis couple to receive the award. 

The Ferrings were selected in recognition of their countless contributions to institutions and organizations in the St. Louis region.

About Alison Nichols Ferring

Alison Nichols Ferring has given her time and efforts to supporting many local organizations.

She has served on the board of trustees for the Flance Early Learning Center since 2014, and on the board of the St. Louis Library Foundation since 2008. Ferring co-chaired the library foundation’s $75 million capital campaign from 2004-10.

Ferring was a founding member of the board of trustees for Shakespeare St. Louis, and she served on the executive committee of the Laumeier Sculpture Park board from 2012-2021.

Her leadership and service are renowned. In 2003, she was recognized as a St. Louis Woman of Achievement. She also received the Visionary Award from Grand Center Inc. in 2010 and the Woman of the Year award from Variety the Children’s Charity in 2015.

Ferring was on the executive committee board for the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., from 2007-2021, receiving the group’s Life Achievement Award in 2018. The nonprofit works toward the development of visual artists and writers.

About John H. Ferring IV

John H. Ferring IV has also served in numerous leadership roles for a host of charitable institutions. He has been a member of the board of directors for Arch Grants, a Missouri-based nonprofit focusing on economic development through entrepreneurship, since 2017.

Ferring is on the board of trustees for the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis (CAM) and served as board president from 2004-07.  He chaired CAM’s first endowment campaign from 2005-07 and co-chaired the second campaign with Alison from 2015-2021.

He has served as a board member for the Gateway Arch Park Foundation since 2014, working to maintain the improvements made through the CityArchRiver project.

Ferring was a member of the executive board committee for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis from 2012-2021. He also served on the board of Jazz St. Louis from 2013-2020 and chaired its capital campaign for a new building from 2013-14.

He helped raise more than $140 million to complete urgently needed improvement projects as chair of the “Forever” campaign for Forest Park Forever from 2009-2018. He also served the nonprofit as an executive committee board member from 2005-2017 and as board president from 2007-09.

Ferring was on the board of commissioners for the Saint Louis Art Museum from 2010-17; the board for the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation from 2005-2012; and was founding chairman of the board for the City Museum from 1997-2002.

Together, the Ferrings served as honorary co-chairs for the Center of Creative Arts’ (COCA) capital campaign from 2017-2020. The $50 million campaign supported COCA’s mission to “build community through the arts.”

The couple are noted St. Louis philanthropists. They generously established the Ferring Family Chair for Pediatric Cancers and Related Disorders at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 2009, the Ferring Annual Award for Philanthropy at COCA in 2010 and the Ferring Family Foundation Endowed Executive Director Chair at CAM in 2018.

The Ferrings’ philanthropic work has been widely acclaimed. They received the Heart of Gold Award from St. Louis Children’s Hospital and an Excellence in Philanthropy Award from the Arts & Education Council in 2009.

Additionally, the Ferrings received the Kathryn Nelson Keeper of Forest Park Award for their many contributions from Forest Park Forever in 2017 and the Missouri Arts Award for their philanthropy from the Missouri Arts Council in 2019.

The couple have three sons: Nick, Will and Brooks.

Harris Award recipients are honored with a cash gift made in their name to the St. Louis-area charitable organizations of their choice. The Ferrings’ award will support the Flance Early Learning Center, which seeks to provide excellence through “educating and nurturing young children, supporting families and strengthening community.”

For more information on the award and how to submit a nomination, email

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