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Kapos: Green Tie Ball and how Chicago passes the civic torch

Green Tie Ball co-chairs Neal Zucker (from left) and Lara Shiffman with then-Mayor Richard Daley and the late Don DePorter. | Photo courtesy of Chicago Gateway Green

Neal Zucker and Lara Shiffman were just out of college some 25 years ago when legendary Chicago Sun-Times society columnist Mary Frey called.

She wanted to connect them to Don DePorter, the late Hyatt Hotels executive who founded Chicago Gateway Green, which beautifies expressways and neighborhoods. He wanted to start a charity fundraiser and Frey knew everyone in town.

Zucker and Shiffman came to mind right away, she says, as she knew them through their parents.

Zucker’s dad is retired sports agent Steve Zucker and Shiffman’s was the late Jovan fragrance company co-founder Barry Shipp.

DePorter’s ideas for greening the city “really resonated,” recalls Shiffman, co-founder of JKLS PR, a public relations and strategic marketing firm.

She and Zucker would co-chair that first Green Tie Ball, and they pulled in friends to help.

It was an easy sell, says Zucker, CEO of Corporate Cleaning Services, the high-rise window washers. “A lot of us grew up in Chicago. So we understand the sense of obligation to give back to the community.”

The party debuted in 1991 under a tent on Orleans Street. Some 500 guests attended and it’s been a hit ever since, raising millions for the nonprofit. Contemporary restaurants provide food and entertainment is edgy. Headlining this year is DJ/singer Samantha Ronson. The ball’s location makes a statement too.

“We wanted the event to stand out from the typical ballroom charity events,” says Steve Traxler, president of Jam Theatricals and member of the ball’s first and subsequent organizing committees. “We were always looking for outdoor spaces” to emphasize Gateway Green’s mission.

Green Tie Ball has been held on Merchandise Mart’s patio, at Galleria Marchetti and Navy Pier. For 11 years it was held in different outdoor areas of the 22-acre Finkl Steel plant site.

This year’s event is Oct. 1 at Architectural Artifacts on the North Side.

Zucker and Shiffman are co-chairs again — and friends from that first ball are back on the planning committee including Traxler, Chicago Cares co-founder Leslie Bluhm, attorney Phil Corboy Jr., Lodging Capital Partners founding principal Brad Falk, Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey, R4 Services CEO Trisha Rooney, Incisent Labs Group CEO Pat Ryan Jr., Magellan Development Group’s Robin Tebbe, Terlato Wines International Vice Chairman John Terlato and HSN Media founder Estelle Walgreen.

It’s a testament to how Chicago passes the baton of civic leadership, says DePorter’s son, Grant DePorter, president of Harry Caray Restaurant Group and now Gateway Green’s board chair.

He says his dad wanted to recruit young people to his “beautification vision and he wanted them to take ownership of his idea.”

Did they ever.

Galvins give $10.25 million to Northwestern

Christopher Galvin
Christopher Galvin

Christopher Galvin, the longtime former chairman and CEO of Motorola, and his wife, Cindy Galvin, have donated $10.25 million to Northwestern University.

This and other gifts from the broader Galvin family add up to $18 million, according to the university.

“Our extended family members have earned 10 degrees from Northwestern across its various schools, so it’s played an important role in our education,” Chris Galvin said in a release announcing the gift. He earned political science and MBA degrees from the university. “Northwestern also plays an important role in the city of Chicago, positively influencing people’s lives in our family and the community. That’s why we give.”

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro praised the family’s “meaningful and sustained support,” saying the Galvins have helped “shape future entrepreneurial leaders for generations to come.”

The Galvins’ latest $10 million gift will support the Kellogg School of Management and its new Kellogg Global Hub, a center that opens next year. The university says it will name a design wing and conference center there after the Galvins.

The remaining $250,000 of the Galvins’ gift will go to the university’s venture capital fund that provides seed funding to launch innovations by Northwestern students.

The Galvins’ gift supports the university’s “We Will” fundraising campaign, which has now raised just more than $3 billion — close to its $3.75 billion goal.

J.B. Pritzker on the Holocaust and today’s politics

J.B. Pritzker
J.B. Pritzker

Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker and Mike Gamson, senior vice president of LinkedIn in Chicago, sat down for a Q&A last week during a networking event last week to attract new supporters to the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

The two men share a rich family history of Jewish immigration and a passion for technology. Pritzker’s venture capital firm invests in start-ups and Gamson built LinkedIn in Chicago to a 400-strong work force and he’s now investing in new entrepreneurs too.

So their exchange about how LinkedIn has transformed business was fascinating – and amusing.

Asked how many in the room were on LinkedIn, only one said no: John Rowe, the former CEO of Exelon who chairs the Holocaust museum.

Most riveting was Pritzker describing the first time he toured the Holocaust museum and was reminded that the Nazis were elected in a democracy.

He wondered “Could a bigoted, anti-Semitic leader get elected in the United States? In Germany, there were economic difficulties. People were feeling angry. They were focused on finding someone else to blame” for their financial pain. “Minorities were identified as wrong-doers. I realized it could happen and I worry about that. It really could happen in the most powerful democracy in the world.”

Pritzker saw the exhibit long before the current election cycle. But he says it’s “relevant” to what’s happening today.

He didn’t mention his support for Hillary Clinton or his contempt for Donald Trump.

He didn’t need to.

‘Shoeless’ Joe’s bat going on display

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson
File photo

A bat used by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson will be displayed Monday and Tuesday in the JW Marriott lobby at 151 W. Adams.

It’s among a few pieces visiting Chicago before heading to Christie’s next month for an auction of hundreds of pieces of baseball memorabilia and photography.

Other items visiting Chicago: a 1918 photo of Chicago American Giants Negro League Team with Rube Foster; an original Cap Anson bat repaired with a nail and screws; Jackson’s signed bill of sale transferring ownership of the Pool Room and Cigar Store at 1202 E. 55th St. to teammate Claude “Lefty” Williams for $1.

The items are being put up for auction by the National Pastime Museum, which is becoming an online museum.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.