Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists

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Meet the 10 Philanthropists
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Meet the 10 Philanthropists

Source: Philanthropy, broadly defined as the desire to promote the welfare of others, is something that's an important cornerstone to us here at SLC. From an early age, my grandmothers taught me the value in giving back to others, regardless of what you have. Before becoming a FT entrepreneur, I volunteered, joined boards and even served in exec roles. I am honored to say that I am now a member of The Gene Siskel Film Center's Advisory Council, an organization that's integral to Chicago's arts & culture landscape. As some of us young professionals focus on our next steps in life, whether that's career or other personal ambitions, servitude to others should be part of that. Chicago is a philanthropic community through and through. Whether it's organizations geared towards health, culture, art, child or family services, we give and we show up. Although the city's current civic & non-profit organizations counts the likes of King Harris, The Crowns, Hobson-Lucas, Ken Griffin, Les Coney, John Rogers, Wood-Princes et al, as supporters, the question as to who the next guard will be is something I've grappled with. According to a DevEx piece, more than $59 trillion will pass into the hands of the next generation by 2050, and this new crop of wealthy individuals — technology entrepreneurs, heirs to family fortunes and real estate wunderkinds — will control between $20 trillion and $30 trillion in charitable giving. What is the succession plan, especially as reports showing that Gen Y/Millennials are one of the largest in history? Who are these next generation-ers that will be future trustees or board of directors? As many organizations struggle to keep up with the dizzying pace of the digital revolution, while adapting to new ways to tackle philanthropy, we are looking for those shining stars under the radar. Gone are the days when big boards simply viewed junior board members only as party minded young professionals. Their value is the youth they bring, and frankly the funds they raise play a role at these organizations. These 10 young professionals highlighted in our first profile of Chicago's next gen philanthropists embody what we stand for, they are aspirational in career with a heavy dose of altruism. Representing Lincoln Park Zoo, Museum of Science and Industry, Good Sports Inc Young Professionals, Goodman Theatre, Misericordia, Midtown Educational, One Hope United, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, United Way YLS, Chicago Public Library Junior Board, Art Institute of Chicago, to name a few. Meet SociaLifeChicago's Next Gen Philanthropists of 2016. ~Bolaji
As the current chairman of the board for the Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago, Jeremy Rothschild leads a diverse group of young, art-inspired professionals as ambassadors of one of Chicago's largest cultural institution. In doing so they've found a few ways to get younger residents into the museum through events like their always sold out Art After Dark event. The world traveler with a marketing background is fusing his talent for branding to get young professionals involved in service and fundraising.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Jeremy Rothschild

As the current chairman of the board for the Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago, Jeremy Rothschild leads a diverse group of young, art-inspired professionals as ambassadors of one of Chicago's largest cultural institution. In doing so they've found a few ways to get younger residents into the museum through events like their always sold out Art After Dark event. The world traveler with a marketing background is fusing his talent for branding to get young professionals involved in service and fundraising.

Source: SociaLifeChicago: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? Jeremy Rothschild: My family has a long history of civic engagement and I grew up seeing my mother serve as the president of the Children's Memorial Guild (now called The Children's Foundation) at Children's Hospital (now Lurie Children's Hospital) as well as actively participate in several other groups; I was exposed to the concept at a young age. My first philanthropic experiences outside of school began upon returning to the US from working in Spain and Japan; I joined the Associate Board of the Face the Future Foundation in 2010 and shortly thereafter joined the board of the Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago. SLC: What does philanthropy mean to you JR: I believe that once they have entered the workforce and have a few years of work experience, all young professionals have the ability to give back in some capacity. The important thing that both the charitable organizations as well as the emerging professional volunteers need to remember is that everyone's situation is different and thus the needs of each organization are different and the ability for people to give (time, money, social media sharing) varies greatly. Through the course of my involvement with various charitable endeavors I have seen the needs vary widely from marketing strategy projects to young professional audience development to social media sharing + building awareness for events and causes. SLC: What do you think is the future of philanthropic events looking to attract young donors in this digital age? JR: I think that the events component is crucial for most philanthropic groups targeting young professionals these days. People are looking for novel experiences that are instantly shareable on social media and so the groups that offer these experiences have seen the popularity of their events continue to grow. Groups that understand that the young professional segment may not necessarily be able to make large financial donations now, but are able to contribute in other ways and if the organization can successfully retain these young professional they will eventually become donors. The organizations that will be most successful in the future are the groups that are addressing the future issues of their audiences aging out of participation and are already actively working to attract a new younger cohort. At the Art Institute our After Dark events (Friday from 9pm to Midnight approximately 6x per-year) have certainly opened the museum up to a much younger demographic than the museum's audience as a whole and multiple years of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The challenge once an event is successful is to ensure that the group continues to evolve the event so that it retains the current audience while attracting new participants as well. We faced this exact challenge at the Art Institute and so we created an enhanced musical performance component to our standard After Dark event and we're calling it After Dark Xtra Loud - watch for the first After Dark XL this fall! SLC:If there’s one thing you would hope to gain or benefit from the current guard and leaders in philanthropy in Chicago what would that be? JR: My friend Nick Hansen always says that in business you are usually never the first to do anything, so find someone who has gone through what you are facing find out how they went about resolving whatever the issue facing your associate board might be. In general I have found time interfacing with the executive boards from various groups I'm involved with (Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago, Face the Future Foundation Associate Board, Taproot Foundation Pro-Bono Marketing Consulting, Chicago Ideas Week Co-Op) to be an invaluable experience and I know that it is certainly something that our board members greatly value. Photo credit: Nolan Farrell
Angela Burke has combined her marketing-communications background and appreciation for the food and beverage industry to form her company, Chef Groupie, a marketing and public relations agency supporting businesses within the food and beverage industry. When she's not pitching or crafting a plan for her clients, Angela’s community service has involved projects for the Taproot Foundation, Open Books' Reading Buddies, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, to name a few. Burke, a member of the Chicago Public Library Foundation Junior Board since 2013, now serves as the junior board president.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Angela Burke

Angela Burke has combined her marketing-communications background and appreciation for the food and beverage industry to form her company, Chef Groupie, a marketing and public relations agency supporting businesses within the food and beverage industry. When she's not pitching or crafting a plan for her clients, Angela’s community service has involved projects for the Taproot Foundation, Open Books' Reading Buddies, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, to name a few. Burke, a member of the Chicago Public Library Foundation Junior Board since 2013, now serves as the junior board president.

Source: SociaLifeChicago: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? Angela Burke: Since I was a kid. I’ve always felt that community service was my responsibility, something that’s mandatory. Later in life, I read Muhammad Ali’s quote, “the service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” I think that’s pretty accurate. SLC: How can the younger(snapchat) generation coming up be convinced of the impact of philanthropy even if they might still be getting financially stable? AB: I’m always impressed with young adults. They have a voice and they demand that it be heard. This generation doesn’t sit around waiting for an opportunity to be handed to them; they’ll create it on their own. I love their perspectives and the organizations that embrace them will benefit greatly. I’d like this younger generation to know that their insight and ideas are needed and valued. Sure, becoming financially stable takes time, especially when student loans are a reality; but do what you can do with what you have. Your connections, your time to implement strategies, your new and different ideas — all of these things are critically important. With our junior board, we have an associate board called the Chicago Public Library Foundation Junior Board Society, which offers those who are unable to satisfy the time requirement and fundraising goals, the opportunity to participate in a capacity that fits their needs. Even without deep pockets, you can still make an impact. SLC: The importance of diversity in junior boards? AB: There’s no one type of person who does this work. All backgrounds, professions, ethnicities and genders should get involved. On the Chicago Public Library Foundation Junior Board, I’m the first woman and the first Black person to serve as president. However, our entire junior board is diverse in all aspects, and that’s something I’m very proud of. Every single one of us has enthusiasm for the Library and for the work at hand. That’s partly how we’ve made such great strides in our short existence as a junior board. SLC: What do you think the future impact of a civic institution like the public library is on our society even as we rapidly move in this digital age? AB: At its core, the library is a hub for endless innovation. Anyone who thinks the library is just a place where books live, needs to immediately head over to Chipublib.org! There’s so much more! The Chicago Public Library is leading advancements in the digital space with programing such as the Maker Lab which offers hands-on 3D printing lessons, CyberNavigators which supports computer proficiency for kids and adults, YOUmedia where teens can become podcasting pros, digital sound mixing masters and so much more! Plus there are tons of apps and digital resources available. You can even borrow a hotspot for WiFi access anywhere. All for the low, low price of free with your library card. *Dress: Alice + Olivia 'Mollie' brocade @ Bloomingdales
Conor Gee
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Conor Gee

He has been a driving force for the the Goodman Theatre's Scenemakers Board for many years now and Justin Kulovsek will be the incoming President of the board this year; before that he served as Treasurer. When he's not devoting his time as an ambassador of Chicago’s oldest and largest not-for-profit theater known for the depth and diversity of artistic leadership, he is Managing Partner at Nesek Digital a boutique firm specializing in social media, video and digital content. The Illinois native who attended Columbia College is immersed in all things media, a topic he's frequently done public speaking on.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Justin Kulovsek

He has been a driving force for the the Goodman Theatre's Scenemakers Board for many years now and Justin Kulovsek will be the incoming President of the board this year; before that he served as Treasurer. When he's not devoting his time as an ambassador of Chicago’s oldest and largest not-for-profit theater known for the depth and diversity of artistic leadership, he is Managing Partner at Nesek Digital a boutique firm specializing in social media, video and digital content. The Illinois native who attended Columbia College is immersed in all things media, a topic he's frequently done public speaking on.

Source: SociaLifeChicago: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? Justin Kulovsek: I've been involved with non-profits as long as I can remember. From a young age I participated in fundraisers for my local school and organizations. Today I participate in two major Chicago organizations: Goodman Theatre (President, Scenemakers Board) and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences - Chicago Chapter (Board of Governor) in various levels from volunteering on (the) boards, fundraising, and supporting many organizations events. SLC: Is there a Chicago philanthropist/civic leader you have always admired and why? JK: I really respect the civic leaders that are all giving back with time, talent and treasure. SLC: What type of precedent do you hope to set for the next generation that may look to join a board in a few years? JK: I think it's important to make sure you have the time to really commit to an organization. Keep your word, if you are going to do something follow through. Never be afraid to ask for advice or help. SLC: Where do you think philanthropy is headed in this rapidly moving digital age? JK: Philanthropy has become part of the digital age with crowd funding and online giving. Digital innovation has allowed for people to make quick online gifts large and small. Digital has also allowed for more first time donors to make gifts. If you make the ask compelling ( story, video, etc) followed by a easy, quick and secure checkout, people will give.
Charles Smith is the founder of CS Insurance Strategies. When asked about him from a fellow Museum of Science and Industry President's Council board member to describe him, they responded "He is sincerely philanthropic without an expectation of getting something in return." His path to success in business began at an early age. He was most recently named one of Crain's Chicago's 40-under-40. When not making and closing deals, Smith sits on the Museum of Science and Industry President's Council and the board of Congo Square Theater.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Charles Smith

Charles Smith is the founder of CS Insurance Strategies. When asked about him from a fellow Museum of Science and Industry President's Council board member to describe him, they responded "He is sincerely philanthropic without an expectation of getting something in return." His path to success in business began at an early age. He was most recently named one of Crain's Chicago's 40-under-40. When not making and closing deals, Smith sits on the Museum of Science and Industry President's Council and the board of Congo Square Theater.

Source: SociaLifeChicago: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? Charles Smith: My active involvement in philanthropy began in 2007, when I started the Chicago office of one of the largest minority-owned commercial insurance brokerage in the US-Philadelphia-based West Insurance Group. SLC: What type of precedent do you hope to set for the next generation that may look to join a board in a few years? CS: The effectiveness of boards are dependent on being selfless and giving in various ways. Although I believe boards should be mutually beneficial in regard to professional development for the volunteer. SLC: What impact do you want to have on society as a professional and philanthropist? CS: I would like to help advance the issues of diversity and inclusion in regard to thought leadership and ideas that can be implemented. SLC: How do you view Chicago’s current philanthropy landscape and what would you suggest can be done better? CS: Diversity as well as cultivating true working relationships between organizations that have multiple boards and civic engagement between organizations with similar missions.
By day, she is a market research professional with Mintel Group who also leads their charity committee, MintelGives, to implement partnerships with local non-profits, while supporting employees' philanthropic efforts. But Baker's commitment to philanthropy does not stop there. In serving her community outside of work, she splits her philanthropic commitments between several organizations. She is the chairperson of One Hope United’s Ambassador Board, on the auxiliary board for Midtown Educational Foundation, where she has been a tutor and mentor for five years; Baker also advocates for A Silver Lining Foundation, an organization that focuses on breast health education and accessibility to quality health care for uninsured or underinsured individuals.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Adiat Baker

By day, she is a market research professional with Mintel Group who also leads their charity committee, MintelGives, to implement partnerships with local non-profits, while supporting employees' philanthropic efforts. But Baker's commitment to philanthropy does not stop there. In serving her community outside of work, she splits her philanthropic commitments between several organizations. She is the chairperson of One Hope United’s Ambassador Board, on the auxiliary board for Midtown Educational Foundation, where she has been a tutor and mentor for five years; Baker also advocates for A Silver Lining Foundation, an organization that focuses on breast health education and accessibility to quality health care for uninsured or underinsured individuals.

Source: SociaLifeChicago: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? Adiat Baker: Giving is a part of who I am, and has been for as long as I can remember. When I was five years old, I presented my parents with two Christmas wish lists. One list with the toys I wanted for myself, and one for a little girl that may not have been as fortunate as me. I knew there had to be one out there and I wanted her to have the same things I had. That lead to my interest in volunteering at church, toy drives and food drives most of my childhood and adulthood. However, I've kicked my philanthropy into a higher gear over the last six years. SLC: How has being on a board helped you professionally? AB: I joined charity boards to make more of a difference in my community. Professional development was not my motive at all. That's not to say that being a member of a board, as well as chairing one, hasn't enhanced my communication, networking and project management skills; it definitely has. My involvement with the organizations I serve has carried over to my professional life, as I now chair my company's giving committee. Being in the position to lead my colleagues in charitable giving has proven to be the perfect marriage of my personal and professional life. SLC: How do you view philanthropy in Chicago? AB: Chicago as a city is in quite predicament. The worst of what happens in this city is currently on display for the world to see. However, there is a lot of good going on here and there are good people doing those things. Because there are so many areas of needed improvement, there is a great deal of opportunity for charity organizations to make even more of a positive impact on our city. I think we are on the right track. SLC: What type of precedent do you hope to set for the younger generations coming up, that may look to join a junior board in a few years? AB: I hope to inspire the younger generation of philanthropists to really engage with the people that are being helped through the organizations of their choice. I would encourage them to form relationships with the founders or executive leadership of these organizations in an effort to make sure the organization's mission is in line with their own. When serving the community is your top priority and motivation, everything else will fall into place. *Dress: Ted Baker 'Karolie' secret trellis dress @ Bloomingdales
In his professional role of as corporate controller at InterPark Holdings, a company that operates in some of the largest cities in the US, any day might involve him analyzing, interpreting and disseminating financial information to different people within and outside the organization. The analytical skill can also be translated to his role as current president of Lincoln Park Zoo's Auxiliary Board. If you don't already know, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of a few zoos in the country to offer free admission to all guests every day they are open.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
John Casper

In his professional role of as corporate controller at InterPark Holdings, a company that operates in some of the largest cities in the US, any day might involve him analyzing, interpreting and disseminating financial information to different people within and outside the organization. The analytical skill can also be translated to his role as current president of Lincoln Park Zoo's Auxiliary Board. If you don't already know, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of a few zoos in the country to offer free admission to all guests every day they are open.

Source: SociaLifeChicago: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? John Casper: I began volunteering with the Lincoln Park Zoo Auxiliary Board in 2004 and joined the board in 2007. I have served in various leadership roles (event co-chair, membership co-chair, Treasurer & President). I first began volunteering at a local hospital during high school and have been involved with various non-profits for the past 20 years. SLC: Are non-profit boards relevant to the younger generation? JC: Annually, Chicago attracts many young, creative and driven professionals. Through my involvement I hope we can continue to help them understand and value the importance of giving back to the community in a meaningful way. It may not be at Lincoln Park Zoo, but anything we can do to engage, encourage and support these people in donating their time and resources will pay long-term dividends to building a better Chicago. SLC: How do you go about fundraising? JC: Our fundraising success is built upon our board first being great ambassadors for Lincoln Park Zoo, and secondarily through the board’s collaboration in planning unique and distinctive events. Hosting one of the city’s largest single day charity events in Spooky Zoo Spectacular is one example of how we are giving back to the Chicago community while showcasing all the great things Lincoln Park Zoo has to offer. Sponsors are drawn to this event as they see value in the way we are giving back to the community and want to align their resources with us. All these partnerships have enabled the Auxiliary Board to make a significant commitment to The Pride of Chicago campaign, which helps keep the zoo free and world-class. SLC: How do you view Chicago’s current philanthropy landscape? JC: Chicago has many people doing amazing philanthropic things to benefit the community. Collectively this group is making a huge impact. At times the individual efforts of many organizations can get lost in the shuffle but, overall I think we should take great pride and how we are making Chicago a better place.
As Assistant Vice President at BMO Harris Bank, Emily Steckel works with people from different departments to serve clients and when she's not climbing the ladder of success to maybe one day be the next Christine Lagarde, she spends time volunteering and raising money for vital non profits. She is currently the Vice Chair of United Way of Greater Chicago's Young Leader's Society.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Emily Steckel

As Assistant Vice President at BMO Harris Bank, Emily Steckel works with people from different departments to serve clients and when she's not climbing the ladder of success to maybe one day be the next Christine Lagarde, she spends time volunteering and raising money for vital non profits. She is currently the Vice Chair of United Way of Greater Chicago's Young Leader's Society.

Source: SociaLifeChicago: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? Emily Steckel: I started volunteering in 2008 when I graduated college, but I got more actively involved in 2013 when I moved to Chicago. SLC: What has been one of your favorite philanthropic events thus far(whether you planned or attended it?) ES: I have been part of so many great events! But if I have to pick, I’d say my favorite event was a Field Day at the Boys & Girls Club in Uptown that we organized through Pro-Cess, the Young Professionals Affinity Group at BMO. We got to take an afternoon off work to eat lunch with over 100 elementary school kids—followed by carnival games, arts & crafts projects, and an inflatable obstacle course! Nothing like it had ever been done before, and all of the hard work and planning before the event was worth it. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, and spending an afternoon having fun with co-workers, was an all-around great experience! SLC: How can civic institutions and social organizations continue attract young professionals wanting to give back in a climate where everything is going digital rapidly? ES: Having a strong presence on social media is key, because we are the “Google it” generation. If we hear about a civic institution or social organization, but can’t easily discern the purpose/mission via online search, then we probably won’t dig further or get involved. As easy as it is to communicate with the masses, I think the more volunteer opportunities are marketed digitally, the better. SLC: What type of precedent do you hope to set for the next generation that may look to join a board in a few years? ES: I’d like them to realize that giving back on a regular basis is one of the best feelings, ever. No matter what kind of day you’re having, or had, directing your focus outside yourself to make someone else’s day better is honestly one of the bet pick-me-ups! I’ve met some really great friends through my involvement with the United Way, it’s an easy way to meet other like-minded people. On Emily: Ted Baker dress @ Bloomingdales
When your professional, philanthropy and life's mission are fiercely intertwined, it can only fuel your drive to help others tell their own stories. Communications professional and new media strategist, Adriana Diaz, currently serves as Communications Director of Chicago projects and programs for The Trust for Public Land (606/Bloomingdale Trail). The Medill Alum is the board president of City Bureau; serves on the board and is a Young Professionals Advisory Council member of Mujeres Latinas en Acción, as well as being a member of the Leadership Committee of Women Employed's Advocacy Council.
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Adriana Diaz

When your professional, philanthropy and life's mission are fiercely intertwined, it can only fuel your drive to help others tell their own stories. Communications professional and new media strategist, Adriana Diaz, currently serves as Communications Director of Chicago projects and programs for The Trust for Public Land (606/Bloomingdale Trail). The Medill Alum is the board president of City Bureau; serves on the board and is a Young Professionals Advisory Council member of Mujeres Latinas en Acción, as well as being a member of the Leadership Committee of Women Employed's Advocacy Council.

Source: SLC: When did you first get involved in philanthropy/volunteering? Adriana Diaz: I've been volunteering on a regular basis since I was 15, when I visited patients and helped out at my local hospital as a candy striper. SLC: What type of precedent do you hope to set for the younger generation that may look to join a board in a few years? AD: Humility is an important quality, but sometimes young folks question what value they bring to the table, and in turn never pony up to it. Because civic engagement was instilled in me at a young age, and because I've had the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life, I've seen first hand how everyone's unique experience is valuable. I hope the younger generation can understand their social responsibility and start investing their time in causes that are important to them at any age. SLC: What are some issues that you think are not getting the recognition they should but are impactful to society? AD: One of the reasons I am so passionate about advocacy communications and media reform is because quality coverage of and by our diverse communities has an impact beyond creating public debate. Engaging communities as active participants in the political and social processes that encompass their lives requires an understanding that not one issue is more pressing than another, rather they are all interconnected and intersectional. To provide quality reporting on police brutality, for example, a reporter or community member must aim to comprehend the complexities of issues like systemic racism, mental health, communities, housing, intersectional feminism, restorative justice, politics and urban development. This is one of the reasons I'm proud to work with City Bureau, a nonprofit journalism startup that aims to create a bridge between the ideals of civic journalism and the economic and political realities in which it exists. SLC: How do you think non-profit organizations can think about or incorporate diversity into their processes without it feeling forced? can they? AD: As someone that not only volunteers for, but has also worked at nonprofits, this is the proverbial question I'm constantly seeking answers to! While I wish I had solutions, I am currently working with the organizations I volunteer with to distinguish between diversity and inclusion, to address systemic barriers and build pipelines for future leadership. *On Adriana: Black Halo "Jackie O" Belted Sheath Dress @ Bloomingdales; Vajzë ring
Jamil Soriano
Chicago’s Next Gen Philanthropists
Jamil Soriano

Shoot details
Location: The Gwen Chicago
Wardrobe: Bloomingdales @ 900 Shops
Jewelry: Vajzë
Hair & Makeup: Stylisted
Photographer: Alexander Gouletas
Shoot coordinator: Briana Mate

 

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