Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana Rauner, showed up at two big fundraising events last week — a luncheon Wednesday for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and a dinner a few hours later to benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation.
A combined $8.5 million was raised between the two events, which each drew notable names from the city’s business and civic scenes.
It’s not often the Rauners attend nonprofit fundraisers together. That’s in part because they’re both so busy. She often travels to Washington, D.C., to champion the Ounce of Prevention organization that she runs. And he’s busy doing what governors do.
Like many power couples, they often tag team important events. Diana, for example, went solo to the Writers Theatre gala in February, and the governor was on his own when he spoke at the Safer Foundation gala in April.
So it seemed to be a scheduling miracle that both attended two fundraisers on the same day.
It’s convenient, too, that both organizations are based out of state— the Holocaust museum is in Washington, D.C., and the Navy SEAL Foundation is in Virginia. The Rauners didn’t have to feel awkward standing in front of a crowd that might have been wishing for state funding to be restored. Neither nonprofit gets state support.
“The Rauner family has a long history of philanthropy to a wide variety of local and national organizations,” the governor’s office said in a statement when I inquired. “The governor and first lady feel strongly about giving back to the community in a variety of ways and look forward to continuing that tradition.”
Whether by coincidence or design, the Rauners couldn’t have selected two better nonprofit groups to support— one honors victims and survivors of the Holocaust and the other champions the work of American soldiers.
“It’s a win-win,” one civic leader said. “You can’t go wrong attending either event.”
Former Joint Chiefs chairman belts out ‘My Kind of Town’
General Martin E. Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stole the show as keynote speaker at the Navy SEAL Foundation event.
He belted out Frank Sinatra’s “My Kind Of Town” – and even got the audience to chime in every time the “Chicago is” lyric came up.
Retired Rear Admiral Garry J. Bonelli, chairman of the foundation’s board, was next up on the stage and grumbled that he had “to follow that act.”
Edward Carl Byers Jr., the most decorated living SEAL who earlier this year received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama, pulled at heartstrings.
Byers told the crowd that the medal he wore around his neck wasn’t about him but about his team and the buddy who lost his life during a 2012 rescue mission of an American hostage.
Anticipating tears at that and other stories, organizer Lisa Wagner and her team made sure there were hankies at each table setting.
Among the notable names in attendance: Muneer Satter, founder and chairman of Satter Investment Management; Reeve Waud, founder and managing partner of Waud Capital Partners (he chaired the event); William Kunkler III,
executive vice president at CC Industries; Mayer Brown partner Ty Fahner; billionaire real estate developer Jennifer Pritzker; Eli Boufis, executive principal at Driehaus Private Equity; businesswoman Adair Schwartz, and
brothers Timothy Farrell and William Farrell Jr., both of Longford Capital Litigation Finance.
Concerned about violence, couple gives $500,000 to YWCA
Concerns about violence and its effect on the city were factors in a Chicago couple donating $500,000 to YWCA Metropolitan Chicago this month.
“We’re not experts on that,” says Zed Francis, a director of Wintrust Financial and one of its charter banks. “But we see what happens when you can strengthen families and economically empower people. It’s not a panacea but it helps the situation.”
With that in mind, he and his wife, Cheryl Francis, co-founder and co-chairman of the Corporate Leadership Center, made their donation to help fund the YWCA’s South Side center.
It was their second gift. A decade ago they also gave the $500,000 for the facility, which is named after their moms.
“Our mothers were great role models. They were resourceful. They had difficult lives but still did a lot for their children and their families and communities,” said Cheryl, who also sits on the boards of Aon and Morningstar. “The idea of something uplifting in the community is representative of them.”
The Francises met in college at Cornell, married and then moved to Chicago in the 1970s to earn their MBAs at the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago. They’ve since become integral parts of the business and civic scene in Chicago. “It’s become home,” says Cheryl.
Cubs celebrate into the wee hours
Chicago Cubs owners, players, spouses and significant others went out on the town Friday night to celebrate the team’s National League division title win. Team owner Tom Ricketts made the toast at a party at the rooftop lounge of the Godfrey Hotel Chicago.
The gathering, which included champagne, started at 8:30 p.m. and continued until after 1 a.m. The Godfrey’s DJ entertained, playing the walk-up jam used by each of the players. Among the players attending were Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Aaron Brooks and Jorge Soler.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.