How can you be a hero too?

CNN Ten Heroes of  2014

Tis the season that we are reminded that everyone can be a hero when they give of their time, talents and treasure.Heroes come in all sizes, abilities and social economic strata. They aren’t just royalty, celebrities or the uber wealthy, talented, or athletic. Authentic heroes are human beings just like you and me who do their best with the gifts that life bestowed on them.Inspiring examples of this abound:

Time magazine’s Persons Of The Year – The Ebola Fighters.

The Week magazine “It Wasn’t All Bad” column recognizing  Hells Angels in Fresno, California who stood in line for 5 hours to buy bikes for needy kids. “You ain’t got enough money in this station to make me feel the way I feel when I give these kids these bikes,” says Hells angels fresno ca in a local tv interview.

CNN named their Ten Heroes of 2014.  These are folks who protect lions, teach music to injured soldiers, open new worlds to autistic youth, and  help children who are fighting cancer, poverty and a lack of opportunity.

cnn heroes 2014

Watch Anderson Cooper in this video and take a look at each of these heroes below.

Here are CNN’s 10 Heroes of 2014, in alphabetical order:

CNN Hero: Arthur Bloom

Arthur Bloom

Arthur Bloom has used the healing power of music to help hundreds of injured soldiers recover their lives. His program, MusiCorps, pairs professional musicians with troops recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, helping them play instruments and write and record music. “By injecting music into this space, we can inject life,” Bloom said. “There’s nothing injured about the way they do it. It’s just good music.”

CNN Hero: Jon Burns

Jon Burns

Jon Burns is rallying fellow soccer fans to help children from poor communities in cities hosting the World Cup and other major tournaments. Since 2006, his nonprofit, Lionsraw, has engaged more than 500 volunteers in construction projects and educational programs that have benefitted nearly 6,000 children. “We’re trying to harness the passion of football fans to make a difference,” he said.

CNN Hero: Pen Farthing

Pen Farthing

Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marine Sergeant, is reuniting soldiers with the stray dogs they befriend while serving in Afghanistan. His nonprofit, Nowzad Dogs — named for the stray Farthing rescued during his tour — has helped more than 700 soldiers from eight countries. “My connection with Afghanistan stayed alive because of Nowzad,” Farthing said. “To be able to get that animal home to them, it closes the loop.”

Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg

CNN Hero: Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg

Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg lost his 2-year-old daughter to leukemia in 1981. Today, his nonprofit, Kids Kicking Cancer, uses martial arts to help children battling serious illnesses manage pain during medical treatments. The group has provided free lessons and support for 5,000 children and their families. “They’re often so afraid,” Goldberg said. “We teach kids how to control their pain and make them feel powerful.”

CNN Hero: Leela Hazzah

Leela Hazzah

Leela Hazzah has dedicated her life to lion conservation. In 2007, she started Lion Guardians, a nonprofit that works with African Maasai warriors to protect lions. The group now employs more than 70 Lion Guardians throughout East Africa and has helped the lion population grow. “I know we’re making a difference,” Hazzah said. “When I first moved here, I never heard lions roaring. But now I hear lions roaring all the time.”

CNN Hero: Patricia Kelly

Patricia Kelly

Patricia Kelly is using horses to motivate at-risk children in Hartford, Connecticut. Her nonprofit, Ebony Horsewomen, provides horseback riding lessons and teaches animal science to more than 300 young people a year. “We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing,” said Kelly. “They learn that they have ability. They just have to unlock it.”

CNN Hero: Annette March-Grier

Annette March-Grier

Annette March-Grier grew up in her family’s funeral home. After her mother’s death, she created Roberta’s House, a nonprofit in Baltimore that helps children and their families cope with grief. Since 2008, more than 1,000 children have benefited from the group’s free programs. “We’re giving families in this city a sense of hope,” she said. “We’re helping to heal wounds and bring families back together again.”

CNN Hero: Ned Norton

Ned Norton

For the last 25 years, Ned Norton has provided strength and conditioning training to people living with a variety of disabilities. He now trains more than 120 people every week through his nonprofit, Warriors on Wheels. “I’m building them up, building them stronger, so they can go out and live life like they’re supposed to.” Norton said.

CNN Hero: Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes

Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes

Amid the violence in his native Guatemala, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes turned his family’s home into a haven for young people. Since 2006, his nonprofit, Los Patojos (the Little Ones), has provided educational opportunities and support to more than 1,000 children. I want to inspire these kids,” he said. “They are the ones in charge of writing the new history in Guatemala.”

CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross

Dr. Wendy Ross

Dr. Wendy Ross is opening new worlds to autistic children and their families. Since 2010, her nonprofit, Autism Inclusion Resources, has helped hundreds of families navigate challenging social situations, such as sporting events and airport travel. “If you start taking steps outside of your door, your world gets bigger and bigger,” said Ross. “We just want people to have opportunities.”

As part of their award package, each top 10 Hero will also receive free organizational training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide. The Heroes will participate in a customized version of the Annenberg Alchemy program, which offers practical guidance to help strengthen organizations for long-term success.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Windfall Benefits All

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is receiving a windfall $3.3 billion – that’s right, $3.3 billion – on its investment of $150 million with a small biotechnology company about 15 years ago to entice the firm to research and develop drugs to help patients of this horrible inherited orphan disease.

That windfall is great news for Cystic Fibrosis patients, their families and the Foundation. Not only has the life expectancy of CF patients now doubled – from 20 to 40 years old – there is greater hope for the future, because the $3.3 billion will be reinvested to accelerate additional help for patients. Perhaps it will eventually help eradicate the disease.Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Unfortunately though, as covered by the New York Times recently, controversy and complaints swirl around the Foundation.  Some complain that it should have done more to encourage a lower cost for the drug.  Others claim that disease nonprofits never should be investors in research, but rather just donate money for academic research. But really, this type of venture philanthropy seems the most expeditious route to helping cure patients.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society Everyone should celebrate this success and encourage creation of additional “virtuous circles” that connect the people most knowledgeable about a disease and passionate to find a cure with those who can help the fastest. Experts agree. “If we want to get therapies to patients faster, we need to be partnering with the industry that actually brings those drugs to patients,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, chief executive of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Other organizations pursuing similar venture philanthropy strategies include JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and other groups involved in muscular dystrophy.

Juvenile Diabetes Research FoundationPlease stop the bickering and focus on the fastest routes forward to find cures.  Instead, please pause and be grateful to the CF Foundation for leading the way by example 15 years ago and join the families of CF patients celebrating with their loved ones.



Contribute Now to Warming Hearts and Hands in Chicago

Please join Make It Better Foundation and help give handmade or newly purchased blankets, hats, coats, gloves and scarves to more than 1,000 men, women and children this winter season.

Warming Hearts and HandsEach year around the holidays, Make It Better Foundation and its partner nonprofits give the gift of warmth to those in need. This is our 6th Annual Warming Hearts & Hands program. You can help make this winter a warm one by dropping off new gloves, scarves, hats and coats at one of the two locations listed below. Donations are accepted before December 21, 2014.

Make It Better
588 Lincoln Ave.
Winnetka, IL 60093
MondayFriday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Volunteer Center
520 Glendale Ave.
Winnetka, IL 60093
Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Step Up Productions
during run of show, HOLIDAZE
performed November 21 – December 21, 2014
at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago

Northbrook Park District donates knitting and Crochet to Warming Hearts and Hands

Make It Better Foundation has donated coats, blankets, hats, mittens/gloves and scarves to the following organizations:

  • Family Empowerment Centers
  • Lydia Home
  • Lake County Haven
  • Chance Ministries
  • San Jose Obrero Mission
  • Sarah’s Circle
  • Breakthrough Urban Ministries
  • Rice Children’s Home and Aid
  • Catholic Charities, Syracuse
  • Deborah’s Place
  • Housing Opportunities for Women
  • Heather’s House
  • WINGS, Inc.
  • A Safe Place
  • Mary Lou’s Place at YWCA Evanston/Northshore
  • McGaw YMCA
  • A Safe Haven Foundation
  • Lake County Haven
  • Chance Ministries
  • Breakthrough Ministries
  • San Jose Obrero Mission
    • Rice Children’s Home and Aid
    • Sarah’s Circle
    • Catholic Charities
    • Deborah’s Place
    • Connections for the Homeless
    • Family Network
    • Good News Partners
    • Mano a Mano
    • The Harbour
    • Boys Hope Girls Hope
    • Nuestro Center
    • Northbrook Park District donates knitting and Crochet to Warming Hearts and Hands

Handmade and retail items have been donated by:

  • Girl Scout Troop from St. Juliana School in Chicago
  • Northbrook Senior Center knitters group
  • Working 2gether in Highland Park and Highwood
  • Volunteer Center
  • AuPairCare North Shore
  • Pharo’s Innovations
  • Unknown Donors



Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Awards

PhilanthropistEach year, in honor of National Philanthropy Day, we announce the winners with a live-blogged roadshow. Please watch this year on November 14 through your social network.

Winners earn compelling fundraising content—videos, articles, connections—which brings to life their missions and proves that donated dollars are well spent. They also receive expert advice on how to use this content to improve their fundraising and grow their own network. We celebrate them at our annual spring gala—an Oscars-like, red carpet star moment.

PhilanthropistThis year, we also will celebrate the 2014 winners at our November 18th party in honor of the launch of our new site, the fifth anniversary of our magazine and new Chicago footprint. Better yet, this year’s winners will also earn proceeds from the Shop For Good section of our new site for an entire year. Please join us at the party- you can RSVP here.

Categories this year include:




Human Services

Most Improved Fundraising Award Social Justice

Audience Choice

Please watch for the winners on November 14 through your social media, come to our party November 18th, and look for ways our work can help you make the world a better place.

To learn more about our Philanthropy Awards, please contact:  Mindy Fauntleroy        Make It Better Foundation 847-256-4642


Every child deserves a good education, a safe, loving home and adequate health care. Every adult honestly trying to overcome difficulties and succeed in life does too. Many Americans believe this and want to help. They pay their blessings forward by starting or supporting nonprofits which help to accomplish these bold goals.

We love to identify, elevate and amplify nonprofits demonstrating best practices—as well as create connections and opportunities for collaboration. The more funders and effective nonprofits learn from and help each other, the faster every child and well-intentioned adult gets the help they deserve.Make It Better 2013 philanthropy awards

We started the Make It Better Foundation and our Philanthropy Awards to grow a network of venture philanthropists and social entrepreneurs as judges and sponsors of the awards (similar to the Academy of Judges for the Oscars) and to provide rocket-fuel support for the nonprofits they select.

Check out last years winners here. Please also subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the awards for 2014.

Make It Better Grows and Changes

Just keeping all of my readers and Make it Better Fans about changes going on. We are very grateful for your time. Please read and enjoy learning more about our organization!November 2014 Make it Better

Some Announcement,  with great pleasure:

On Monday, October 13, Michelle Morris joins Make It Better as our Associate Publisher.  We enticed her away from Conde Nast, where she served as Midwest Advertising Sales Director for Parade magazine.  She is the perfect person to help us grow into Chicago and beyond.

Michelle joins Mindy, Megan, Julie, Sandy, Lesley and me as a member of our Executive Committee.  Megan, as Ad Sales Manager, and the rest of the ad sales staff, will report to Michelle. She understands well and is excited about our company’s collaborative culture too.

As of tomorrow, Mindy and I job share the CEO role – insuring smooth management and a strong presence in our office while we also travel more to grow this precious business.

Our new site officially launches on November 18.  We celebrate this, our expansion into Chicago, our 2014 Philanthropy Award winners (who you will help notify during our November 14 live-blogged road show) and our magazine’s 5th Anniversary at the best party we’ve ever thrown – at 27 Live in Evanston.

Nancy Searle will be our first $10,000 sponsor of a Philanthropy Award! This is particularly spectacular news because Nancy is one of the most strategic thinking and well regarded philanthropists in Chicago. (You might remember her from the Education Innovators cover story.)

Thank You to All of the Amazing Make it Better Staffers;   Your talent and trustworthy, creative, hard work led to all this success – starting with John Lavine, the Kitchen Cabinet and Cheryl Berman.  You honored our worthy mission to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource and helped grow Make It Better Media.

Mindy Fauntleroy. Everything Mindy touches succeeds and shines.  We wouldn’t have our first (and particularly fantastic) Philanthropy Award sponsor, super successful MIB events or outstanding new Associate Publisher hire but for Mindy’s work.  I’m forever in Mindy Faunteroyher debt for answering the Make It Better call and now for accepting the title of CoCEO.

Julie Chernoff.  She is not only a brilliant writer, editor and organizer, Julie is the consummate Make It Better woman.  She nurtures the best from our staff and her free lance writers – thereby growing our audience and community resource network. Julie works long, long hours for not Julie Chernoffenough pay and still finds time to make better every other community she touches too.

Megan Holbrook. Megan consistently proves that we hire winners with can do and always will Make It Better attitudes. Megan accepts every challenge and makes our business stronger in the process.  She watches out for, lifts up, and makes better the rest of our talented ad sales staff  – Patti, Julie, Denise – too.Megan Holbrook

Sandy Sandy TsuchidaTsuchida.  She has everyone’s back.  Our operations are complicated, but Sandy runs them all well and without complaint.  I suspect that each of you – like me – count Sandy’s work for you as a blessing.

Lesley Smith.  Want to know the definition of crazy hard work?  Be the Art Director for a community resource and magazine celebrating its 5th anniversary, launching a Chicago footprint and new website, while being charged with making all of our many activities easy to understood and look gorgeous – often on the weekend.

We outgrew our current site many, many months ago and she isn’t a full time social networker, but Lindsay still grows our stats and our uber valuable network.  She’s likely working double time bringing the new site to life too.

Lindsay RosemanLindsay Roseman.  We outgrew our current site many, many months ago and she isn’t a full time social networker, but Lindsay still grows our stats and our uber valuable network.  She’s likely working double time bringing the new site to life too.

Katy Nielsen.  Such a talented, connected videographer!  We will grow MIB TV because Katy cares and understands how to create and improve communities with compelling, problem solving video stories.

David Canada, Adam Rubin and SureCan Productions.  Despite the production demands of network tv, David answered our Make It Better call and sent Adam (the perfect person for the job) and team to bring to life our Philanthropy Award videos.  The rest is history.  And – like our website and company – the Philanthropy Awards will take a giant leap forward this coming year too.

Sharon Krone.  She’s been heaven sent to our family since her days as a student at Northwestern University – perfectly trained to grow philanthropic best practices and a business while nurturing a great family and community too.  A lesser woman than Sharon would have been made crazy by this journey long ago. She provides calm guidance and support instead.

Stacey McClenathan & Beeline.  Stacey et al are not only bringing our online vision to life, they suggest strategies that will quickly allow Make It Better to grow Shop For Good and become relevant to large businesses who take seriously their corporate social responsibility and employee relations.

I’m extremely proud and looking forward to the next round of making it better for everyone.



Part 2; Best Annual MIB Supported Fundraisers

Welcome back to Part 2 of my posting of top MIB Supported Fundraisers.

Today, we’ll look at top NFP Gala’s in the area of Service and Schools.

1. City Year Ripples of Hope Gala (4/2015) This year’s Gala was a huge success; it took place on April 9, 2014 and raised a total of $903,685 in support of our service to the students of Chicago. View photos from the evening on City Year’s Flickr Page. Thanks were given out to ;

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
City of Chicago

Mark Furlong
CEO, BMO Harris Bank

Read and subscribe to the City Year Blog, as well.

2. Posse Foundation Chicago Golf Outing and Cocktail + Dinner Reception, (9/2015)

Their website says it all; “Posse is one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States. In fact, President Barack Obama said in an interview in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “One of this year’s MacArthur awardees—the ‘genius’ awards—is an innovator named Deborah Bial. She proposed a model to identify promising students from…urban backgrounds using an alternative set of qualities as predictors of success in college. …The students that are selected form a ‘Posse’ and are provided with extra supports, and end up graduating from selective colleges with a very high success rate.”

3. After School Matters Annual Gala (9/2015)

There’s still time to attend the 2014 After School Matters Annual Gala or simply plan for 2015.

After School Matters organization

After School Matters® is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago high school teens innovative out-of-school activities.

4. Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund 25th Anniversary (10/25/14)

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund

This event is just around the corner so find out more and buy tickets here.

5. Invest For Kids Conference (11/6/14)

Invest For Kids is a unique forum that brings together portfolio managers, family offices, private investors and analysts to learn about strategies and specific investment ideas from a leading group of investment managers.  Their Sixth Annual Event is coming up in a little over a month at Harris Theater. You can register now.

6. A Better Chicago Project Impact Awards (11/13/14)

Watch a video overview of the Project Impact, which is fascinating. Project Impact is a competition that harnesses the power of innovation to move the needle for those in need. Nonprofits across the country can use this prize to launch or grow their presence in the Chicago metropolitan area. We support this initiative and hope you will too. See who gets awarded this year on 11/13/2014.
7. KIPP Chicago Schools KIPP Talk (Spring 2015 )          KIPP Chicago

MIB has been a big supporter of KIPP for some time. We appreciate their mission;  To create a network of schools that empower students with the character and academic skills necessary to succeed in top-quality high schools and universities, to be happy in the competitive world, and to have a positive impact on their communities.

8. Chicago High School for the Arts Kerfuffle (5/2015)

Kerfuffle! is ChiArts’ annual fundraising event featuring performances and exhibitions by Scholar-Artists from the Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts conservatories at ChiArts . The evening will feature four “Arts Partner All-Stars” representing some of the 72 Chicago arts institutions that partner with ChiArts as well as a reception with a strolling Cabaret Dinner.

Please also take a look at the first in this series; Part 1; MIB 2013 Philanthropy Award Winners. 

Part 1; Best Annual MIB Supported Chicago Fundraisers

2013 MIB Philanthropy Awards

North Shore philanthropists use their love of big ideas, unique experiences, family fun, great home design, fashion, drop-dead glamour and ladies lunches to support a plethora of excellent causes. Over the next eight days, I’ll give you a sneak peak at Make It Better’s list of top annual fundraisers supported by our audience.  Of course, we’re starting with the annual events for the nonprofits who won our 2013 Philanthropy Awards.

See the full list of winners here. Please click on each organization to view their fantastic work and see the video we awarded each organization, within each links;

(Watch our Video of the 2013 MIB Philanthropy Awards Here)

If you are looking for a special experience tied to a good cause to support, we recommend any of them to you too. Stay tuned over for the next seven posts to cover fabulous NFP organizations in the following categories;

Service & Schools

Ladies Luncheons

Top25 Galas Supported by the North Shore

For Fashionistas

For Families

Art, Antiques & Home Decor

Fabulous Experience Auctions

Please subscribe to the blog to be sure you don’t miss this series. Thanks!

Safe, valued, worthy too – thanks to Designs 4 Dignity

Design 4 Dignity Ride for FidgnityFortunately, you and I inherently feel safe, valued, worthy. And we know that we matter.  But not everyone is as fortunate. Thanks to Designs 4 Dignity many who are struggling in life now find help in places that let them feel safe, valued, worthy and as though they matter too.

Enjoy a great day out and learn more at the first ever Ride with Dignity (north shore) bus tour.

Board the Designs for Dignity bus at the Wilmette train station onThursday, September 18 at 11 a.m. for this wonderful opportunity to see some completed Designs 4 Dignity projects first-hand.

Please click on the link below to order tickets (via the Events tab) and register by September 15.  I can’t wait to see you there!

Board President Diane Falanaga and her family Blake, Bianca & Mark

Board President Diane Falanaga and her family Blake, Bianca & Mark

Diane Falanaga, D4D President explains “We exist to provide positive and transformative environments to non-profits in need.  Our hope is that the people served in these spaces grow, thrive and feel inspired.  See for yourself that healing design communicates:  “You are safe, valued, worthy.  You matter.” Take a look at the before and after pictures below.

Design 4 dignity Before Pictures of warming houseDesign 4 dignity After Pictures of warming house

Top 11 Chicago Female Philanthropists

If you missed my recent Make It Better article on these Top 11 Chicago Female Philanthropists, I wanted to highlight this list of amazing women I mentioned in April, 2014 when Mayor Emanuel created this tribute.

In honor of Women’s Philanthropy Week and the#WomenLeading Philanthropy Symposium in Chicago, Make It Better announces our Top 11 Chicago Female Philanthropists.

This list, which is ordered alphabetically, is made up of women we admire who are doing wonderful things in—and for—our community.


1. Frances Comer—Founder, The Comer Foundation

The widow of Lands’ End founder Gary Comer continues in the philanthropic traditions she started with her husband, focusing primarily on children’s health and education. More than $50 million has been invested in Gary’s childhood community on Chicago’s South Side, including the creation of the internationally recognized Gary Comer Youth Center, a top performing college prep school, and an affordable housing initiative. Additionally, major investments have been made to theUniversity of Chicago, most especially $42 million for the Comer Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Emergency Department.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Rosemary-Connelly2. Sister Rosemary Connelley—Executive Director, Misericordia

Connelley has been a champion of better care for children and adults with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities since she began working at a small South Side facility in 1969. She has grownMisericordia into a vibrant, loving community for 600 residents in the Rogers Park facility (for which she lobbied hard) with an annual budget of more than $50 million. Along the way Connelley has also earned seven honorary degrees, numerous other awards, and a beloved and much-respected reputation as a leading champion in the developmental disabilities arena.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Paula-Fasseas-new3. Paula Fasseas—Founder, PAWS and Peter & Paula Fasseas Foundation 

Fasseas founded the animal shelter PAWS Chicago in 1997 as a volunteer movement to help stray dogs find homes. Her passion for the cause grew the nonprofit into a “no kill” model with a state-of-the-art facility admired and adopted within the national PAWS organization, which rescues a variety of animals. Impressively, the Fasseas Foundation’s reach is extensive and goes beyond PAWS. In 2011 alone, the Fasseas Foundation donated $1,318,350 to promote volunteerism, philanthropy and grant-making foundations. (Photo by Sofia Spentzas.)


MAD-female-philanthropists-Francia-Harrington4. Francia Harrington—Senior Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase

Harrington manages the extensive civic relationships and philanthropic efforts of JPMorgan Chase. She also sits on the boards of LISC Chicago, ChiArts High School (which she also helped found), Ingenuity Incorporated and Chicago Lights. Harrington has been a longtime champion of the power of female philanthropists; JPMorgan Chase is the premier sponsor of this week’s #WomenLeading Philanthropy Conference, which will draw national attention to Chicago’s prominence in this area.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Joan-Harris-new5. Joan Harris—Former Chairman, Irving Harris Foundation

Known as the Patron Saint of Arts in Chicago, and also considered a national arts powerhouse, Harris and her late husband, Irving, championed development of the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, which created a home and new opportunities for scores of arts organizations. She has served on the National Endowment for the Arts,Arts Alliance Illinois, and as the Commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as on the boards of the CSO, Juilliard Schooland Aspen Music Festival and School. The Foundation also supports programs, policies research and organizations for early childhood initiatives and the Jewish community.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Mellody-Hobson6. Mellody Hobson—President, Ariel Investments

Hobson, youngest of a single mother’s six children and the only one to graduate from college, has long championed education and equal opportunities for all in Chicago. Her marriage to filmmaker George Lucas helped shoot her into the civic philanthropic stratosphere. She and Lucas gave recent donations of $25 million to both After School Matters and the University of Chicago Laboratory School. Hobson also serves on the boards of the Chicago Public Library, Field Museum, theChicago Public Education Fund and the Sundance Institute. (Photo by Joi Ito.)


MAD-female-philanthropists-Liz-Lefkofsky-new7. Liz Lefkofsky—Founder, Lefkofsky Family Foundation

Lefkofsky is a rising star in Chicago’s philanthropic community. She and her husband, Eric, who founded Groupon, have given away $25 million to Chicago-area nonprofits working in education, medical research, fundamental human rights, and arts and culture. She’s also creating opportunities for female tech entrepreneurs with the foundation’s recent support of 1871 FEMtech. Her philanthropic drive predates Groupon’s success. As a child, Lefkofsky helped her mother stuff envelopes in support of the American Brain Tumor Association, which her mother founded, and later served as a director of the Printer’s Row Book Fair and Gallery 37 arts community. Thanks to her recent signing of Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge with her husband, this commitment will only grow; they have pledged to donate half of their net wealth to charitable causes.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Ann-Lurie8. Ann Lurie—President and Treasurer, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Foundation; Founder, Africa Infectious Disease Village Clinics, Inc.

Lurie, a self-proclaimed hippie in her early years, also worked in public health and pediatric nursing before starting a family and never lost her passion for this work. Now, through the Foundation and her personal giving, Lurie engages in direct and transformational philanthropy and research grant funding in education, social services, arts and health care organizations around the world. Now perhaps best known for her $100 million gift to the Lurie Children’s Hospital and deep commitment to transforming health care in Africa, Lurie also has funded a long, diverse list of other programs through other institutions, including Northwestern and University of Michigan. Better yet, Lurie doesn’t just give money; when she takes a project to heart, she gives substantial time, too.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Diana-Mendly-Rauner9. Dr. Diana Mendley Rauner—President, Ounce of Prevention Fund; Founder, Rauner Family Foundation

She’s currently best known as the wife of the Republican gubernatorial candidate, but Rauner has long been a determined advocate for children and a thoughtful force behind her family’s prodigious philanthropic gifts. This includes launching the state-of-the-art Rauner Center for theAmerican Red Cross of Greater Chicago, founding six charter schools and supporting numerous other education and scholarship programs. She also serves on the board of Lurie Children’s Hospital. She’s most passionate, though, about the importance of early childhood education, leading her to take on a full-time commitment to theOunce of Prevention Fund, which is a national leader in the area.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Shirley-Ryan10. Shirley Welsh Ryan—President and Treasurer, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation

To understand the rocket-fuel power of strategic ideas amplified by philanthropic dollars, spend a little time listening to Ryan discuss the visions behind her family’s philanthropy, like the Ryan Opera Center of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Ryan Education Center of the Art Institute of Chicago, Pathways Center for Children, and manyNorthwestern University (her alma mater) programs. Ryan thinks deeply about a nonprofit’s mission and creates and/or funds programs with remarkable vision, while quietly deflecting attention from her valuable efforts.


MAD-female-philanthropists-Bernarda-Wong11. Bernarda Wong—Founder/President, Chinese American Service League

In 1979, with the belief that she could make the transition to a new life, language and cultural expectations better for Asians moving to the United States, Wong founded CASL in Chicago on a mere $30,000 budget. She based this on her own experience moving here from Hong Kong as an 18-year-old. Wong grew the Service League into a significant institution with a $12 million annual budget, and was recently recognized by President Barack Obama. She was the first Asian to serve on the boards of theChicago Public Library and the United Way of Chicago. Her public service also includes several city and state government advisory councils, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations(CCHR), the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) Board, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Board, and Illinois Council on Aging.

InterFaith Youth Core Expands: Part 1

I feel compelled to pass along most amazing news I received about the IFYC.  Their premise is to train college leaders to learn about and embrace all religions so the world may better address and solve the many ills caused by religious intolerance.IFYC Leadership initiatives in Inter Faith

In just the past months, the team prepared for and executed two successful Interfaith Leadership Institutes (ILIs) in New York City and Chicago on the campuses of New York University and Northwestern. We welcome you to Chicago with open arms!

With the support of the President’s Faith-based Council membership, on which I also sit, the IFYC team was able to train nearly 200 interfaith student leaders over the summer, moving closer to the goal of 450 students trained this academic year. This is remarkable progress, and I am continually impressed by the young interfaith leaders they to work with.

As September begins, Founder Eboo Patel, a Rhodes Scholar and Obama advisor,  is back on the campus circuit with renewed inspiration, traveling near and far – from the public Utah State University in Logan, UT to the Ivy League campus of Cornell University in New York; from Loras College, run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque, IA since 1839, to Meredith, the largest all-women’s college, in Raleigh, NC.

Eboo doesn’t stop here. His energy is boundless and later this month, the team hosts a set of important IFYC events in Washington, DC, including a gathering on White House grounds.  You can help now by making a personal or corporate contribution here.

We continue to support IFYC  I’ve written about IFYC and Eboo for MIB in the past and hope to host him at our nondenominational church in partnership with a nearby synagogue soon. This is part one of a series on the amazing initiatives of Eboo and the IFYC as a whole.