Amongst the lions, tigers, meerkats and soon to be Japanese Macaque monkeys, Women’s board members and supporters of Lincoln Park Zoo will celebrate and raise money July 11 at Zoo Ball 2014. This year’s zoo ball theme, Monkey Business, will raise funds to benefit Lincoln Park Zoo, which is open year round and free to all visitors.
We asked Zoo Ball 2014 co-chairs Caroline Huebner, Katie Gledhill and President of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Women’s Board Peggy White a few questions about the upcoming gala and how they got involved with the organization.
SLC: How did you get involved with the Lincoln Park Zoo?
Peggy: I became a member of the Women’s Board in 2006 soon after I settled in Chicago. I was introduced to the zoo through friends who knew I was looking for a hands-on philanthropic experience in the city. The Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo actively raises funds to keep the zoo free as well as supporting its capital, conservation and education efforts. We serve as ambassadors to the community, celebrating Chicago’s most treasured wildlife experience. It is certainly that hand-son experience I was looking for! I’m proud to be a part of such an active board and to have served as its President for the past two years.
Caroline: My husband and I have lived within blocks of Lincoln Park Zoo for many years and it has been an important part of our family’s lives long before I became involved in the organization. When we were first married we would walk through the Zoo during the early morning hours (which we still do!). I became involved with the Women’s Board 7 years ago as a way to “give back” and raise money for this incredible treasure in our backyard!
Katie: In the autumn of 2009 my family and I moved back to Chicago after living 9 years abroad. I was not working full-time and wanted to get involved in a local organization. I have always loved Lincoln Park Zoo and believed in its mission of conservation and education, while being free for all visitors. A mutual friend introduced me to then-Women’s Board President, Gale Gottlieb, who ultimately became my sponsor when I applied to join the board in late 2009.
SLC: Give us a peek into what guests can expect at this year’s zoo ball?
Katie: We always tell our guests to expect the unexpected! We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a fun and elegant evening that feels different from many other fundraising events. This year, our theme, Monkey Business is inspired by the Regenstein Macaque Forest, which will open this winter. These playful snow monkeys originate from Japan, and our décor has taken on a Far East theme accordingly. Guests will notice Japanese Cherry Blossoms and pops of bright fuchsia. The food, provided by Jewell Events Catering, will also have an Asian influence that we think guests will love.
SLC: Lincoln Park Zoo has an auxiliary board, as an outlet dedicated to Chicago’s rising stars, what advice can you give to auxiliary members such as those on the zoo’s auxiliary board looking to eventually be on the women’s board?
Peggy: Lincoln Park Zoo’s Aux Board is comprised of approximately 125 young adult male and female members. They are all pretty terrific and have bright futures ahead of them. Incidentally, every couple of years a member or two from the Aux Board makes the transition to the Women’s Board and we even have a few members of our Board of Trustees whose relationship with the zoo began as Aux members many years ago. One thing I believe differentiates our zoo’s board is the length of time our members stay connected to the organization. Our Women’s Board has approximately 135 members, and more than 30 of them have over 30 years of service to the zoo! I think that is pretty special. So my advice would be to stay involved!
SLC: Fundraising is something that most board members go through, having an organization like Guggenheim Partners on board as presenting sponsor for 4th straight years, what fundraising tips can you give?
Caroline: We are, indeed fortunate to have many sponsors and friends like Guggenheim Partners who have supported the Zoo Ball for many years. We try to take every opportunity we can to thank those who are so very generous to us. It’s important not to always be asking, but also to be giving to those who are so loyal — we try to say thank you in many different ways.
SLC: Tell us a bit about the upcoming exhibit featuring the Japanese macaques
Peggy: It is an exciting and transformational time at the zoo and the Women’s Board will continue to play a significant role in these developments. Regenstein Macaque Forest, our newest exhibit in nine years, is scheduled to open later this winter. Proceeds from Zoo Ball will support this project and we expect to raise over $1M from the event again this year, bringing our total contributions to the zoo to nearly $23M since our Board’s inception in 1977. Just imagine a playful troop of these Japanese monkeys exploring an immersive outdoor habitat featuring evergreen trees and a hot spring for warm dips on cool days!
SLC: Philanthropy to you in 3 words?
Peggy: Service, Obligation, Rewarding
Caroline: Passion, Involvement, Giving
Katie: Passion, Betterment, Future
*img credit: Women’s Board