Don’t Miss! Jim Hackett Talks Faith and Leadership

Want to be inspired by a successful life built on great values?

If your answer is yes, please join me on Friday, December 4 at Kenilworth Union Church at 7 a.m. to hear Jim Hackett speak on “Faith And Leadership.”

maureen and jim hackett

Maureen and Jim Hackett. Image courtesy of Inside IUPUI.

Hackett grew up in Winnetka and graduated from New Trier High School in 1972. He married his high school sweetheart, Maureen. Her influence kept their life together focused on serving others, even as they raised four children and Hackett charged through Harvard Business School and a spectacular career with a series of energy companies.

Most recently, Hackett served as Executive Chairman of the Board and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, one of the world’s largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies. He also is the former Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, a board member and/or adjunct faculty member of multiple colleges, a board member of two Fortune 500 companies and a partner in the private equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC. 

That’s impressive success indeed.

But what most intrigues me about Hackett are four other facts:

  1. He stepped back from the pinnacle of corporate success in order to pursue a Master of Divinity at Harvard University.
  2. He cites two high school English teachers as life changing.
  3. He calls Maureen the more inspiring member of their marriage.
  4. With Maureen, he endowed the Women’s Philanthropy Center at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

This is a powerful man living by powerfully good values.

The Hacketts live in Houston.  But they returned to the North Shore in 2013 when he was inducted into the New Trier Alumni Hall Of Honor.

Hackett proved to be an engaging speaker that night. So I’m delighted that he’s returning to discuss faith & leadership, confident that his message will inspire you and honored to be able to introduce him.

Please join me and be inspired too.  It’s a great way to start your day.


Better Together in Memory of Sarah McCausland and Mary Catherine Hayes

The deaths of two vibrant, creative, beloved recent grads who had flourished in New Trier High School’s performing arts, left their grieving families, friends and New Trier staff searching for a way to honor their lives.

Bold decisions by their parents and the school’s leadership eventually created a fitting opportunity: Raise $1 million to outfit a black box theatre inside the high school’s ongoing construction and name it in their memory. Thus was “Raise The Stage” born.

Make It Better is proud to be a media sponsor of this initiative and of our intern Olivia Loucks, who was a good friend of Sarah McCausland’s, for taking a big lead in the launch.

My heart hurts whenever I think about McCausland and Mary Catherine Hayes even though I never met them. But for the grace of God, it could have happened to my children.

But really, in one sense, it did. All children in our hometowns are our children. We are all better together too, working to heal hurt and build opportunity for future students with the Hayes-McCausland Black Box Theatre.

Please learn more from the article below written by Loucks and Livia Abuls. And please join us at the Kick-Off event on Monday, August 17.


Looking to pack as much fun as possible into your last few days of summer? Spice up your Monday by rallying the troops to the Black Box Kickoff Concert on August 17 for a night of live music, great food and better company.

black box sarah mccausland

Sarah McCausland. Photo: Gabby Jones

The best part? You can do it all while supporting a cause close to home. The concert is kicking off the Raise The Stage campaign to outfit New Trier’s new Black Box Theatre, to be named in memory of former theatre students Sarah McCausland (‘13) and Mary Catherine Hayes (‘10).

Sarah and Mary Catherine dedicated their New Trier careers to performing arts. After graduating, they both went on to college with big dreams of where that experience would take them in the future. After Mary Catherine courageously battled a rare form of liver cancer, she passed away in June 2013. Sarah passed away during her first year at Bard College, after being struck by a drunk driver in January 2014. Both women left behind powerful impacts on our community, and are remembered for possessing incredible spirit, creativity, and passion. With this in mind, friends of Sarah dreamed up an event to honor both girls’ unmistakable fire for life, which has developed into the Black Box Kickoff Concert.

Black Box Mary Catherine Hayes

Mary Catherine Hayes. Photo: Howard Hess

Make It Better is excited to partner with friends of Sarah in an effort to create a meaningful and community-driven event. Additional sponsors include Nick’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, the New Trier Educational Foundation and the New Trier Performing Arts Association. The venue, Nick’s, is not to disappoint. Not only was it voted Best Neighborhood Hangout in Make It Better’s Best of 2015 , but also the friendly feel is the perfect spot for this local cause.

So mark your calendars for Monday August 17 from 4-7p.m., because this is an evening you won’t want to miss. The night will include live music, a silent auction, appetizers and a cash bar. We’ll be in the presence of some of Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming talent. Opening will be Ava Suppelsa, a talented singer/songwriter from Evanston, followed by Johnny Edwards. Closing the night will be Leah Capelle and Elizabeth Lyons, both recently featured in “6 Local Musicians You Should Listen to Now.” We can’t wait to see you there, as we Raise The Stage and end this summer with a bang.

For more information and updates on the event, find us on Facebook!

Free Leadership Training Through Charmm’d Foundation and Kellogg

If you work for a tax-exempt organization in New Trier, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff or Zion Townshils, I encourage you to apply for the Charmm’d Foundation’s leadership training program, which includes classes at Kellogg School of Business and the opportunity to grow with a great cohort from our community.

Terry Dason, Executive Director of the Winnetka Northfield Chamber of Commerce, describes this as one of the best personal and professional development opportunities she’s experienced. As would all of these recent graduates:

Learn more here.