Chicago businesswoman Mellody Hobson is a major supporter of a new indoor track and field facility coming to the South Side.
Hobson, president of Ariel Investments in Chicago, and her husband, billionaire filmmaker George Lucas, are donating $10 million to the Gately Indoor Track & Field Facility. After School Matters, a nonprofit Hobson chairs, has promised to raise a $5 million for programming at the new center. It’s a testament to Hobson’s influence that a kids charity can make such a commitment.
The gift was announced as Hobson and Lucas mark their wedding anniversary. Though it’s only coincidence that their donation comes as they remember that day.
The couple captured the hearts of Hollywood and Chicago four years ago when they tied the knot at Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in California. Today, they live in a high-rise home on Michigan Avenue with their young daughter.
It’s not their only home.
Earlier this month, Lucas bought a 9,000-square-foot mansion in Bel Air owned by Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot (though it’s not clear Perot ever lived there). The reported price tag: $33.9 million.
The 1929 La La land home with nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms comes as construction is set to begin on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles.
Speaking of anniversaries. A year ago this month, Hobson and Lucas abandoned plans to build a grand museum in Chicago.
CEO celebrates success with gift to alma mater
Chicago-area tech entrepreneur David Nolan just saw his company raise $41 million in funding, and to celebrate, he and his wife, Nikki, made a donation to their alma mater.
The college sweethearts donated $125,000 toward an entrepreneurship program at Villanova University, where they met some 40 years ago. This year, they’ll celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary.
“We have a lot of reasons to celebrate,” said Nolan, co-founder and CEO of Fusion Risk Management.
The Rolling Meadows software firm helps companies prepare for disasters. It could be a cyber meltdown, terrorist attack or weather calamity. Mostly, though, Fusion Risk helps companies keep operating when an internal system fails or a supplier falls through.
The company has grown from 18 to 77 people in 10 years. Nolan expects that to double by 2020, thanks in part to the recent funding.
Pride Day is kids’ day too
Chicago attorney Aubrey Parker and her pediatrician wife will be among the throngs attending this year’s Pride Parade on June 25.
The couple have attended the annual event before but this time they’re bringing along their two young children.
Families aren’t new to the parade. Parents and children of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities have long been “allies” of the parade, noted Richard Pfeiffer, who’s coordinated the event since the 1970s.
Marriage equality has made the parade even more of a family affair, he said. You see it in the number of young faces in the parade and on the sidelines. The Back Lot Bash, that coincides with the parade, even includes kids music.
Though never as flamboyant as San Francisco’s Pride Parade, where nudity is part of the mix, Chicago’s parade has its share of over-the-top floats. Though that’s changed, too, Pfeiffer said. “Forty years ago, people saw cross-dressing as flamboyant. Not anymore.”
For Parker, a family law attorney at Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove LLP, and her wife, Dr. Ellen Parker, the parade is about celebrating differences.
Aubrey and Ellen met while attending Creighton University in 2005. Back then, Aubrey’s last name was Parlet and Ellen’s last name was Klocker. When they married, they merged their surnames to Parker.
“We knew we were going to have kids and thought here we are two moms, and if we can make things more average we wanted to,” Aubrey Parker said. “It’s nice and generic.”
Duchossois family passes the torch
The Duchossois family’s incredible $100 million donation to University of Chicago Medicine to research how to keep people healthy attracted plenty of attention.
But the gift is newsy for another reason too. It signaled a passing of the torch to the next generation of the well-established family.
Joining family patriarch Richard Duchossois and his son Craig Duchossois, the CEO of Duchossois Group, on stage to announce the gift was Ashley Duchossois Joyce, Craig’s daughter.
“Our family is trying to push the next generation into leadership roles in the foundation and in the business,” she told me. “It’s been exciting.”
Joyce was named president of the Duchossois Family Foundation in 2015. Soon after, a major gift was bequeathed from Bruce Duchossois, Craig’s brother.
The foundation pivoted from one that funded efforts to fight illnesses to a organization focused on prolonging life.
“The whole family got on board,” Joyce said. “And that’s where the University of Chicago came into the picture.”
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