Desiree Rogers, who heads the Choose Chicago tourism board, hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Rahm Emanuel at her Gold Coast home the other day.
It was a small affair — nothing like the glitzy event she hosted in 2011 when singer-actress Jennifer Hudson took the stage to raise $100,000 for the would-be-mayor.
Still, Rogers’ “intimate dinner party” wasn’t anything to yawn at. It helped push fundraising close to $100,000 for Emanuel’s widely-expected third mayoral campaign.
“It’s great to see this kind of support two years out from the election,” she told me.
At the party, the mayor “talked openly about a variety of topics,” including new police technologies to decrease crime, education issues and the importance of Chicago being a sanctuary city.
Attendees included Rogers’ brother, New Orleans businessman Roy Glapion; businessman Jack Greenberg and his wife, Donna; businessman Matthew Pritzker; Dr. Clyde Yancy of Feinberg School of Medicine; attorney Adam Hoeflich; Touch Communications co-founder Nina Mariano (wife of the grocery store magnate); and R4 Services CEO Trisha Rooney, a mayoral friend whose paper-shredding company has done work for the city.
Emanuel and Rogers’ friendship goes back years. He was chief of staff in the White House when she was the social secretary. She oversaw his 2011 inauguration and he named her to Choose Chicago. Rogers also is the former CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., home of Ebony and Jet magazines.
CEO sees ‘the benefits of DACA’
Vistex founder and CEO Sanjay Shah has just returned from Pennsylvania, where he made a $5 million donation to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
“I’m an alum,” he told me, referring to his MBA. “That was my gateway to life and living in the United States.”
It was a natural segue to talk about DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation. President Donald Trump has rescinded DACA, giving Congress six months to consider how children of illegal immigrants fit in the United States.
Shah calls the debate “political theater” and says critics are ignoring DACA’s “underlying benefits.”
Just look at the tech industry, he says. “The folks who would seem to be affected or will be affected by DACA are the active contributors to our economy.”
Shah’s a good example. He immigrated from India to attend Lehigh. He went on to work at Price Waterhouse, General Motors and SAP before starting his software company in 1999. Vistex has annual revenues of $225 million.
And then there’s Shah’s philanthropy. Along with donating to Lehigh, he supports the DuPage Children’s Museum and The Night Ministry, which works with the homeless. He’s even been out on the field with Night Ministry. “It gives you a new appreciation for the work they do. I liked seeing my money put to good use,” he says.
Shah also has some real-estate cred. A few years ago, the South Barrington resident purchased a penthouse in Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower for $17 million — a Chicago record.
Shah and his wife, Hemali Shah, don’t live in the tower yet, but with their two daughters off to college, he said: “It’s the right time to finish the place and move in.”
It’s a CEO shuffle at Ingredion
Ilene Gordon, the longtime CEO of Ingredion, steps down Jan. 1.
She’ll be replaced by Jim Zallie, an executive vice president with the company. Gordon will become executive chairman. “It truly has been the highlight of my career and I have enjoyed every moment of it,” she said in announcing the move.
Taking the stage with Bloomberg
Jennifer Zhang, founder and president of Chicago-based Jeneration Capital investment firm, is in New York for the Bloomberg Global Business Forum.
Michael Bloomberg, Chinese business magnate Jack Ma and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz will be there. As interested as she is in the summit’s financial wonkiness, Zhang will be there to perform. She plays the Chinese flute.
The Shanghai native holds an economics degree from Northwestern University and music degrees from Berklee College of Music in Boston and China’s Central Conservatory of Music.
She recently won the Miss China International crown in Beijing.
Call it Field of dreams
To get potential donors excited, the Field Museum hosted a party at Wrigley Field.
“It really helps that we have someone on the board who owns the place,” said Richard Lariviere, the Field Museum’s president and CEO.
He was referring, of course, to Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, who’s co-chair of the Field’s Founders’ Council.
The “one-of-a-kind” event earlier this month allowed potential donors to walk out on the field, tour the dugout and meet Field Museum scientists who handed out personalized baseball cards with their bios.