AFP Chicago features the 2017 Faces of Philanthropy honorees 

On May 5, AFP Chicago will proudly honor eight of the most distinguished leaders of the Chicago’s philanthropic and nonprofit sectors at the 41th Annual Philanthropy Award Luncheon. Please allow us to introduce you to our notable honorees.

Please click here to become a sponsor or an individual ticket holder for the AFP Chicago Faces of Philanthropy Awards Luncheon today.

COL (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired) - Distinguished Philanthropist Award

Colonel Pritzker has been extensively involved in philanthropic work for over two decades, though her drive to help others and make an impact on communities around her was first instilled earlier in life by the examples set by her parents and other family members. 

Motivated by her upbringing and extensive military career, her philanthropy encompasses support for organizations locally, across the country and internationally that operate in a wide array of subject matter areas, including support for military organizations and projects related to military history, medical and scientific research in human sexuality and gender identity, cultural and educational institutions, historic preservation, and human rights advocacy.  

In addition to her role serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of TAWANI Enterprises, Inc., Colonel Pritzker devotes significant time to her philanthropic activities.  Along with her active engagement as President and Founder of the TAWANI Foundation, President and Founder of the Pritzker Military Foundation, and Founder and Chair of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, she also serves as a Governing Member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Visiting Committee to the Library at The University of Chicago and a member of the Leadership Council for the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota.  Additionally, she has previously served on the boards of Norwich University (1997-2007), the USO of Illinois (1997-2012), the National Strategy Forum (2000-2013), the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (2001-2007), the Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society (1996-2008), and the National Guard Association of Illinois (1994-1995).

Colonel Pritzker and the TAWANI Foundation have received many honors and accolades for a consistent philanthropic commitment aimed at bettering the lives of individuals in all walks of life and building stronger, more vibrant communities.  In 2016, Jennifer received a number of prestigious awards and honors, including the U.S. Department of Defense Spirit of Hope Award, the Landmarks Illinois Legendary Landmark Award, and the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s “Trailblazer” award.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter is thrilled to recognize Colonel (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired) for her enduring commitment to preserving history, supporting education and research, and advancing communities throughout Chicago.

Greg Brown, Motorola Solutions - Executive Leader Award

 Growing up in North Brunswick, New Jersey, Greg Brown learned the value of hard work and commitment early in life. He credits his mother’s optimism and his father’s discipline for providing the foundation that shaped him into the business  and community leader he is today. As chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions for the past decade, Greg has completely transformed the 90-year-old company. Through a series of spinoffs, divestitures and acquisitions, the company’s  portfolio now is acutely focused on providing mission-critical communications for public safety and enterprise customers around the world. This transformation has driven shareholder value, with an average annualized total return of more than  20 percent a year since the company split in January 2011.

 Greg has a deep personal commitment to giving back to the Chicago community, where Motorola Solutions’ headquarters has thrived and where he and his wife Anna have called home for over 25 years. He actively serves in leadership roles  for Skills for Chicagoland’s Future and the Executives Club of Chicago, and he currently is on the boards of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, World Business Chicago, The Chicago Club, and the Big Shoulders Fund.

Greg feels strongly that corporations should give back to the communities that are the fabric of the lives of their employees. He sponsors a CEO Award for Volunteerism for Motorola Solutions employees, inspires co-workers to volunteer both time and talents, and places an emphasis on the company’s foundation and charitable giving program, which granted $11 million in support for education, public safety, and disaster relief in 2016. Motorola Solutions was named one of the 50 most civic-minded companies in the United States in 2016.

Believing in the vital role of educational institutions to community success, Greg and his wife, Anna, cochaired an effort to raise funds for the Promise Scholarship Program at Harper College, a community college located just down the street from Motorola Solutions’ Schaumburg campus and close to their home. They also co-chaired the Legacy of Faith Campaign for their local Catholic community. Greg and Anna have eagerly passed down their love for the community and philanthropic support to their two children, Megan and Troy, and they are inspired daily by their two beautiful grandchildren, Molly and Parker.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter is happy to recognize Greg Brown for his corporate citizenship and inspirational leadership that advances the educational, economic, and social vitality of the Chicago region. 

James D. Parsons, The Brinson Foundation - Professional Grantor Award

For the past 13 years Jim Parsons has been President of The Brinson Foundation, a privately funded philanthropic organization established in 2001 by the nationally recognized authority in investment management, Gary Brinson.  Jim’s leadership has purposefully guided the Brinson family’s interests in programs that encourage personal initiative, advance individual freedom and liberty, and positively contribute to society in the areas of education and scientific research.  Through Jim’s efforts, the Foundation has strived to be a leader in best practices in philanthropy, including implementing an evaluation process that ensures that its grantees are well aligned with the standards and expectations of the Foundation’s Board.  Jim’s thoughtfulness, dedication and commitment to volunteerism has helped him build an outstanding reputation in the nonprofit community, especially in the context of his work with the grantee organizations that The Brinson Foundation supports. 

Prior to joining The Brinson Foundation, Jim had an impressive 26 year career with Gardner Carton & Douglas where his legal practice was focused in the areas of corporate finance and securities law. Less than seven years after joining the firm out of law school, he became a partner in 1984. By 1991, he was managing partner, functioning as the firm’s COO until 2004.

In addition to his efforts at The Brinson Foundation, Jim is a past chair of the Board of Directors of Forefront (formerly the Donors Forum), where he continues to serve on the Development, Membership & Communications and Strategy & Policy Committees.  Jim is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Board of Directors of King-Bruwaert House (a continuous care retirement community), and a life trustee and former Board chair of The Community House (a social services agency located in west suburban Chicago).  He is a member of the Leadership Council of the Chicago Public Education Fund, the Illinois Attorney General’s Charitable Advisory Council, and the Board of Advisors of the Morton Arboretum.  He previously served on the Board of Trustees of Denison University where he was also National Annual Fund Chair. 

The Association of Fundraising Professionals is happy to recognize Jim Parsons for his professionalism, sensitivity, and generous support to the nonprofit community.  

Elizabeth "Betsy" J. Hughes, Illinois Institute of Technology, Benjamin Franklin Award

Betsy’s path to a career in philanthropy started with a spark provided by a favorite college professor in 1982. That professor connected her to the local United Way, which was looking for a communication intern. This experience introduced Betsy to the field of philanthropy, and resulted in her undergraduate thesis which contrasted the success of workplace solicitation versus direct mail and individual solicitation.

After graduating from St. Bonaventure University, Betsy moved to Boston to learn the development business at MIT as a development associate. However, one year later, the draw of the United Way led her to join an elite management training program from United Way of America. Betsy then stayed in the United Way system for 6 years— leading campaigns in the Berkshires of Massachusetts and in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

She eventually returned to higher education as a Major Gift Officer for Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts. Spending time in Chicago for Bentley College, this position led to her decision to relocate to Chicago, where she joined Illinois Institute of Technology as the first Director of Development for the school’s prestigious Institute of Design (ID). In her ten years with ID, Betsy raised more than $10 million—an extraordinary amount for a school with less than 1,000 living alumni and 100 students.

Betsy left Illinois Tech for the opportunity to help build the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. As a Regional Director of Development, she was given the mission of raising gifts of $1 million or more, without benefit of a prospect list! The job required creativity and “chutzpah” to “cold call” potential million dollar donors. Since the case was compelling, donors responded.

But the story of Betsy’s career is really all about Illinois Tech. She left the Smithsonian to return to the university where she launched the Mies van der Rohe Society, and soon after was appointed Vice President, a position she has now held for 13 years. Betsy has proudly supported the vision of three Illinois Tech Presidents—Lew Collens, John Anderson, and current President, Alan Cramb.

Together with “the best Advancement team in the City of Chicago,” Betsy led the successful Fueling Innovation campaign that brought more than $250 million to the university. In addition to dollars raised, Betsy is proud to have launched innovative programs to engage alumni, and to be known for extraordinary stewardship of the university’s major donors.

After three and a half decades in the business, Betsy is known to her donors, volunteers, and colleagues as someone who easily shares her passion about the university, clearly communicates the philanthropic opportunities to donors, and listens carefully to the needs and interests of volunteers and donors alike. She is motivated by the opportunity to mentor others into a profession she loves. Betsy and her husband Lyle live in Oak Park with their children, Will and Livie, and two rambunctious Golden Doodles.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter is thrilled to honor Betsy Hughes, a visionary and true champion for the fundraising profession.  

Mike and Mariann Stanton, Outstanding Community Leaders Award

Mike and Mariann are the co-founders of the Danny Did Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit with the mission to prevent deaths caused by seizures. They established their movement following the loss of their son Danny at age 4 to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).

Danny Stanton was born on March 2, 2005.  He was third of the four Stanton Children, younger than Mary Grace and Johnny, and older than Tommy.  It was at age two when Danny had his first seizure. His eyes rolled back and he shook.  Danny seized for almost 10 minutes as 911 was called and he was rushed to a next-door neighbor who is a paramedic.  After a battery of tests were conducted, there was no known cause found for Danny’s seizure. No injury, no trigger.  The Stanton’s were told that sometimes seizures in children have no known cause and that kids often outgrow them.  They were terrified, and left the hospital that night without any written information about seizures, seizure disorders, or any mention of epilepsy or epilepsy organizations.  Just over a month later, he had a second seizure while sleeping in his parent’s bed.  The Stanton’s took every precaution.  After an MRI, and again no underlying cause found for his seizures, Danny was put on a variety of medicines, and a series of electroencephalograms (EEGs) were performed.  The Stanton’s were again told he’d outgrow it, that many kids experience this… it is unknown why it happens.

By the time he turned four, Danny was athletic, inquisitive, engaging, and more than anything, affectionate.  Danny was sleeping in his own bed again and had gone without a known seizure for 18 months.  The Stanton’s believed he was, through medicine and time, outgrowing his ‘seizure disorder.’  On December 12, 2009, just four days after a scheduled appointment with his neurologist, Danny’s lifeless body was found in his bed at 7:15AM. 

Utterly heartbroken, Mike and Mariann Stanton founded the Danny Did Foundation in January 2010, with the organization’s namesake derived from the last line of Danny’s obituary: “Please go and enjoy your life. Danny did.”  Today, the Danny Did Foundation works nationally and globally toward preventing deaths caused by seizures with these main goals in mind: advancing public awareness of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), enhancing the SUDEP communication model between medical professionals and families afflicted by seizures, and the mainstreaming of seizure detection and prediction devices that may assist in preventing seizure-related deaths.  In particular, DannyDid Foundation has provided seizure monitoring devices to families across 48 states and 8 countries - devices that are many times described as lifesaving. 

The Association of Fundraising Professionals is excited to recognize Mike and Mariann Stanton for their inspiring and important work, advancing awareness of epilepsy and SUDEP.  

Toni Sandor Smith, Outstanding Volunteer Award

A sixth generation New Yorker born in Manhattan, Toni comes from a long line of people for whom philanthropy was just generosity and that was just a way of life.  “There, but for the Grace of God, go I” was as much a part of her upbringing as “Finish your spinach – think of the starving Armenians!”

Educated at the Brearley School and Vassar, Toni married a native of La Grange Park, and moved to the Western suburbs where they raised three children.  All three forged careers in nonprofit enterprises and Toni’s six grandchildren are active in philanthropic causes.

The suburbs eventually proved too much of a disjunction for her New York DNA and Toni moved into the city where she got a job as Receptionist for an executive recruiting firm, Spencer Stuart.  Four years later she became the first female consultant on the staff and within 10 years was the first female partner

She soon gravitated to the nonprofit clients and recognized that there was a huge market in that sector.  She convinced her firm to let her create a ‘specialty nonprofit practice’ (the first for a large recruiting firm) which she headed for the balance of her 30 year career.  She worked primarily with Boards seeking new leadership for nonprofits throughout the country and beyond.   Some were large and traditional (museums, major orchestras, large foundations); others were smaller (human service and civic organizations); some were idiosyncratic (like Executive Women in State Government).  Many of the leading cultural and civic organizations in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s were led by Smith recruits (and some still are).

She served on the Chicago Botanic Garden and Associated Colleges of Illinois boards and on advisory boards for the National Easter Seal Society and Northwestern University’s non-degreed nonprofit course program.  She became a member of The Chicago Network where she has been a Board member and committee chair.  When she retired, wanting to be more involved with the city of Chicago and its residents, she joined the boards of Lakefront SRO and a children & family agency that has grown to become One Hope United.  She also joined Executive Service Corps of Chicago as a volunteer consultant (she recently chaired that board) and volunteered at her neighborhood Lakeview pantry.  Because of a lifelong interest in archeology, she became a docent at the Oriental Institute and later, a member of the Visiting Committee.  And love of theater led her to Steppenwolf where she has chaired their Directors Circle committee.

Still active with most of these organizations today, Toni now lives at The Admiral, a north side senior   residence.  She chairs their Lifelong Learning Committee, bringing outside speakers and university courses to the building, and is currently serving on the Executive Committee of the Residents Board.

Because of her years of work with Boards and CEO, she developed an expertise in nonprofit governance and has used that to chair boards and governance committees wherever she has served.  Her goal as a recruiter was to recruit CEOs who could help nonprofits grow and thrive; she now tries to use her own experience toward the same goal.  Toni is still the go-to person for people transitioning in their careers or from full time work to retirement – which she insists is really just reWIREment.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter is happy to recognize Toni Sandor Smith for her indomitable spirit and exceptional volunteerism, motivated by the prospect of giving others the opportunity to live a better life.

Brennan O'Connell-Miller and Katherine Young, Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award

 Brennan (9) and Katherine (10) are two young people who have a strong spirit of philanthropy and strive to activate the change they want to see in their community. Both are very involved in volunteering at Chicago’s own Lakeview Pantry which serves over 7,000 clients through 40,000 visits, and distributing over 1.3 million meals each year.

Brennan and Katherine took their dedication to the Pantry a giant step further when they led and organized a classic and foundational fundraising tactic – a lemonade stand. This lemonade stand was offered in conjunction with Lakeview Pantry’s grand opening celebration of their most recent location at 3945 North Sheridan in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

This undertaking took extensive planning, the acquisition of a city permit, and the construction of a homemade wooden lemonade stand that was vibrantly painted. Brennan and Katherine also led the staffing of the stand. They successfully recruited a staff of seven, which included some of their closest friends.

The team’s goal was to raise $200 in lemonade, popsicles, and cookies sales. All proceeds would directly benefit the Lakeview Pantry. To their surprise, the group raised just over $1,000 in a few hours!

Through Brennan’s and Katherine’s focus and dedication, they have earned an official and permanent acknowledgment on Lakeview Pantry’s capital campaign donor wall. Their names join the other 160+ donors who committed $1,000 or more to help Lakeview Pantry build their new home and headquarters.

Throughout this venture, Brennan and Katherine have exhibited incredible maturity, enthusiasm, and leadership. They also had the opportunity to raise even more awareness around the issue of hunger in our community, as well as, how Lakeview Pantry is working to address these issues.

Brennan is currently a fourth grader at Frances Xavier Warde School. She loves to dance and is dancing with Extensions Dance Company. When she is not dancing, Brennan loves to read, volunteer, see her friends and ride her scooter.

Katherine is currently a fourth grader at The Nettelhorst School. She lives in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Katherine plays soccer and enjoys taking hip hop dance classes.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter is thrilled to recognize Brennan O’Connell-Miller and Katherine Young for their collective commitment to advancing individuals and communities throughout Chicago.

Sponsorships and individual tickets are currently available for the Philanthropy Awards Luncheon. Please visit the AFP Chicago website for more information, and be sure to join us Friday, May 5 at the Hilton Chicago.

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