Alison McNally

Classic Chicago Woman December 2016

Allison McNally-2016-12-18-at-3-32-21-am


     Rosemary Fanti      



Illustrated by Rosemary Fanti




Written by Megan McKinney



Alison McNally: Lovely, vivacious, great fun . . . Widely admired for personal style . . . Former marketing executive . . . Currently devoted to caring for and enriching lives of husband, three daughters . . . A committed participant in the charitable and social life of Chicago and North Shore.      

Once: Winnetka upbringing . . . Lived 15 years in Chicago (Old Town) before return to Winnetka . . . Attended Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI. . . .   Passavant Cotillion debutante—“This is where I met many friends that I still love today.” . . . Former Marketing Director for Three Arts Club, historic landmark and residence for women in the arts (now a glamorous Restoration Hardware store) . . . Sales Director for FreeZone, safe online community for kids . . . Lived in London . . . Frequent visitor to New York, San Francisco, but, most of all, an enthusiastic Chicagoan“I have embraced all that is great about our city; the concerts (including the Grateful Dead at Soldier Field), The Old Town Art Fair, Cubs games, Butch McGuire’s, the Air and Water Show, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, Ravinia, The Art Institute of Chicago, the beautiful Chicago skyline, our majestic Lake Michigan and even the weather.”  

Now: Wife of Andrew McNally V (Drew) for 15 years . . . three daughters, Tatum, 14; Maggie, 13, and Wellesley, seven . . . Surrounded by extended family—“two turkey dinners on Thanksgiving, two Christmas celebrations, two Easter egg hunts . . . all with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins” . . . Frequent visits to Palm Beach with Alison’s family and to the Thousand Islands in upstate New York with Drew’s . . . Recently began painting, which has been “very fun!”

Current Career: Wife, mother, hostess, avid community volunteer . . . Occupied with daughters’ sports, school, friends . . . two girls with chronic diseases—celiac disease and type 1 diabetes—“I am constantly striving to keep them healthy and happy.” . . . Recent summers spent working with daughters in planting and fostering a vegetable garden to teach healthy choices, creative cooking, patience and “so many other very important life lessons.” . . . Also helping daughter Maggie with “Coins for Camp” fundraising effort to send youngsters to diabetes camp and marketing for a friend who recently launched an organizing business . . . This month, hosting a gingerbread house decorating party for her girls and their friends.

For the Public Good: With Drew, she is active and in support of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Shedd Aquarium (Drew was a Shedd board co-founder), Lyric Opera, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, University of Chicago Hospitals, FAN (The Family Action Network)—“My grandparents, Mary Louise and Alfred Stepan, had seven children and instilled a deep sense of faith and civic responsibility in all of our family.” . . . Mother Marilee Wehman is a tireless participant in Chicago’s civic and charitable life—It’s an honor to follow in her footsteps.”   

Diversions:I am an Aquarian, the Water Bearer! One common theme throughout our lives has been WATER!  In the water, on the water and under the water!” . . .  Grandmother Mary Louise Stepan was a U.S. National Champion in 1929 . . . Mother Marilee Wehman won a bronze medal in swimming in the 1952 Olympics . . . Niece Marilee recently swam the English Channel. . . Alison swam for the State Championship New Trier swimming team . . . Throughout the year, swimming in a pool with daughters, in Lake Michigan, in the St. Lawrence River or in the Atlantic Ocean—“When not in the water, we are ON the water! In Winnetka, for generations, my family has designated Sundays as ‘family boat days,’ where all of my relatives spend the day at the beach, waterskiing, swimming and sometimes heading to the city on our motorboats—our family motorboat is named FABO, short for fabolous! It’s the best! Conversely, while in the Thousand Islands, you can find our family cruising along the St. Lawrence River in a classic vintage wooden boat, swimming in the river or catching—and releasing—fish.”

Home: 1926 Spanish Revival house by S.S. Berman “was built for parties!” Everything from dinner parties to a backyard “McNally Olympics” for neighborhood children, complete with 800 water balloons and relay races—“Many kids call our house the ‘Fun House’ and that makes us very happy.”

What’s Next: The most immediate is the 68th Annual Passavant Cotillion and Christmas Ball to benefit Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Over the course of the year, young women socialize, volunteer and learn the impact and importance of philanthropy. The year’s events culminate in our white-tie ball in December. Established in 1949 and now in its 68th year, this private event is one of the finest traditions in Chicago. We have raised millions of dollars over the years to benefit important research initiatives and patient care programs at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Classic Connections: Grandfather Alfred C. Stepan Jr. established Stepan Company in 1932, was a founding member of Lyric Opera and moving force behind Ravinia and Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, FL. Cousin F. Quinn Stepan, Jr. and brother Richard H. Wehman, Jr. are current president and vice-president of Stepan Company. Great, great, great grandfather-in-law Andrew McNally was founder of the Rand McNally map company, a director of the World’s Columbian Exposition, and a leader of the Chicago History Museum and Newberry Library.

Finally: “The most important thing for me is keep my children happy and healthy and continue to live with compassion and joy. Life is flying by . . . I always tell my girls to savor the moment and be grateful.”  


Edited by Amanda K. O’Brien