On Tuesday, Sept. 25, stormy skies couldn’t dampen the excitement for the celebration of Bright Promises Foundation’s 2018 Awards. Nearly 300 philanthropists, civic and business leaders, current and past grant recipients, and honored guests gathered in the breathtaking Cathedral Hall of the University Club for Chicago for this joy-filled and inspirational occasion, which marked the official countdown to Bright Promises Foundation’s 150th anniversary next year.

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Iris J. Krieg

Bright Promises Executive Director Iris J. Krieg presenting in Cathedral Hall at the University Club of Chicago. (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

Notable guests at the 2018 Awards included Dr. Barbara Bowman, founder of the Erikson Institute; Evette Cardona, vice president of the Polk Brothers FoundationKandace Thomas of the Irving Harris Foundation; and community leaders Francia Harrington and Vern Broders, Dr. Colleen Chiccetti, Carolyn Nopar, and Peggy and Paul Bodine.

After a bustling cocktail reception, the evening’s program began with a welcome from 2018 Awards Co-Chairs Ric Estrada, CEO and president of Metropolitan Family Services, and Prue Beidler, former chairman of the Chicago Children’s Museum and The Chicago Community Trust.

Prue and Ric challenged attendees to step out of their comfort zones and to take part in changing the narrative for the children and youth of Chicago. The co-chairs also invited attendees to have hope for a brighter future for our children and youth, a message that was echoed throughout the evening. “Hope is our superpower!” Ric called out amid cheers from the audience.

Executive Director Iris J. Krieg, co-founder of the Chicago Foundation for Women, took the stage next to announce grants to 16 organizations selected through Bright Promises’ highly competitive grant process. All of these organizations are trusted leaders in their community, providing quality, innovative programs and services to children and families — including reducing community violence, preparing children for academic success from preschool to college, or helping young people grow into healthy adults.

Organizations receiving grants included Chicago Youth Centers, RefugeeOne, Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, Chicago Child Care Society, Breakthrough Urban Ministries, and Christopher House. (Click for a full list of grant recipients.)

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Chad and Shauna Gardner, Nancy Hare, Rodger Owen and Janet Owen

Chad and Shauna Gardner (left), Nancy Hare (center) with Bright Promises Foundation Board Director Rodger Owen and wife Janet Owen (right). (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

Following the announcement of the grants, Gaylord Gieseke, former president of Voices for Illinois Children and current president of the Bright Promises Foundation Board of Directors, began the presentation of the 2018 Awards:

  • The 2018 Champion for Children Award was presented to Doug Mabie, founder, past president and current director of Springboard Foundation. Mabie is the managing director of Private Wealth Management at Baird and serves on the Board of Trustees for Denison University and as a director for the WGA/Evans Scholars Foundation. The Champion for Children Award is presented to a civic or community leader whose commitment to children and youth serves as a model and inspiration to others. Past honorees include Gigi Pritzker and Thom Hale.
  • The 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Nancy B. Ronquillo, president and CEO of Children’s Home & Aid. Ronquillo has worked to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized children and families for over 40 years. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the welfare of children in a professional capacity. Past honorees include author Alex Kotlowitz and civic leader Marjorie Craig Benton.
Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Marco Brion Dodd and Gaylord Gieseke

“With the right kinds of opportunity, anything is possible for any kid.” — Marco Brion Dodd, 2018 Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award Honoree, with Bright Promises President Gaylord Gieseke. (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

  • The 2018 Marciniak Bright Star Award was presented to Marco Dodd, assistant director of BGCC- Kidz Express. The Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award is presented to an early career professional and is accompanied by a $5,000 honorarium for professional development, which Dodd will use to continue his education at Concordia University of Chicago.
  • The 150th Anniversary Youth Engagement Award was presented to Maria Degillo, youth director of Communities United. Degillo helped to found Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), which has become a leading organization in efforts to reform school discipline. The 150th Anniversary Youth Engagement Award is a special award given in celebration of Bright Promises Foundation’s 150th Anniversary and is accompanied by a $1,500 grant to the recipient’s organization.
Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Maria Paula Gareza Degillo

“Thank you to the youth I work with for teaching me courage … and to Bright Promises Foundation for reminding me that our work really matters.” — Maria Paula Gareza Degillo, 150th Anniversary Youth Engagement Award Honoree (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

To close the program, representatives from the grantee organization Enlace Chicago, including several parent leaders, shared how with Bright Promises’ support they are increasing the skills and developing the leadership of parents in the Little Village community to be able to support children’s social and emotional learning at home. With these grants, Bright Promises is working to ensure that a generation of young people are growing up with the awareness, decision making skills, and connections to caring adults that are vital for their own success and for creating safer, stronger communities.

The 2018 Awards celebration raised nearly $100,000 to support Bright Promises Foundation’s multiple child-serving initiatives. Special thanks are offered to Presenting Sponsors the Kreisman Family Foundation, and to the 2018 Matching Gift Challenge Sponsors Rodger and Janet Owen and Azteca Food Inc.

Bright Promises Foundation wishes to thank all of the 2018 Awards individual, corporate, and foundation sponsors whose generous support make this annual celebration possible, including: Prue and Frank Beidler, Doug and Annie Mabie, Sendhil Revuluri and Venu Gupta, the Marciniak Family, Pritzker Pucker Foundation, Margot and Thomas Pritzker Family Foundation, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Polk Brothers Foundation, William Blair, Quarles & Brady, Marjorie Craig Benton, Clarissa Cutler and Jim Swinerton, Bob and Barbara Finley, Jenni and M. Scott Gordon, Ron Manderschied, Jay and Bari Rosenbloom, Neil Peck, Charlie Gofen, Sara Stec, and Make It Better.

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Iris Krieg, David Kreisman, Marilyn Eisenberg

Bright Promises Foundation Executive Director Iris Krieg (left), Presenting Sponsor David Kreisman (center) of the Kreisman Family Foundation, and Marilyn Eisenberg (right), Bright Promises Foundation Board Vice President. (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

About Bright Promises Foundation

Bright Promises Foundation has been innovating social services for children for nearly 150 years. Our mission is to ensure that all children, no matter their background, circumstance, or zip code, have the opportunity to flourish and thrive. We remain the only independent public foundation in Illinois solely dedicated to providing funding.

In addition to directly supporting work, Bright Promises conducts rigorous evaluation and helps our partners to share knowledge with each other and with the broader community including practitioners, policymakers, and the public.

Each year, we serve more than 6,000 children and 1,500 parents at 50+ sites. Ninety-seven percent of the families we serve live below the poverty line. Issues Bright Promises is currently helping to address include childhood trauma, access to quality early childhood education, parent engagement, and social emotional learning.

More information available at brightpromises.org


The 2018 Awards was voted the “Best of 2018 Philanthropy: Non-Gala Fundraiser” by Make It Better readers.

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Doug Mabie

Doug Mabie accepts the 2018 Champion for Children Award. (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Ed Davies and Shilpa Bavikatte

Bright Promises Board Director Ed Davies (right) with Bright Promises Program Officer Shilpa Bavikatte (left). (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Mark McKinley, Robert Finley, Paul Bodine

Mark McKinley (right), Senior Wealth Advisor at William Blair, with Bright Promises Board Director Robert Finley (center) and Former Bright Promises President Paul Bodine (left). (Photo by Pablo Ponce.)

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Tara Harper and Vern Broders

2018 Awards guests Tara Harper (left) and Vern Broders (right). (Photo by Stephen J. Serio Photography.)

Bright Promises Foundation 2018 Awards: Evette Cardona and Cindy Camacho

Polk Brothers Foundation Vice President Evette Cardona (right) with Cindy Camacho (left). (Photo by Pablo Ponce.)


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