Know Your Chicago: Brain Health and More




By Judy Carmack Bross




Ragdale, the renowned arts and crafts retreat for artists in Lake Forest


For 74 years, Know Your Chicago has lived up to its name offering the tours to take and the takeaway of emerging new trends and noteworthy ideas from those who truly know our city. 


The 78, an aerial view courtesy of Discovery Partners Institute


Each tour offers rare access to thought leaders and experts as well as behind-the-scenes visits, providing participants the opportunity to delve deeply—and even inspire involvement.   From “Monumental Decisions:  Statues from the Past,” to a visit to Ragdale in Lake Forest where artists come to create on a country estate, to an introduction to “The 78, the debut of a dynamic new neighborhood” to “Brain Health: Innovation, Inspiration and Hope,” the tours are accompanied by a Symposium on September 13 led by experts in each of the fascinating fields who set the stage.

Linda Woloshin


“This year’s season is different in several exciting ways,” Know Your Chicago Chair Linda Woloshin told us. “The 78 is an evening cocktail party and presentation on Chicago’s 78th neighborhood, the city’s largest ever development program and the second largest in the United States. In just days we sold out the Brain Health program and accumulated a waiting list of 90.  We have added a second program on October 7th and, for the first time in Know Your Chicago history, made it on a Saturday to accommodate our waiting list and others.” 



Monumental Decisions on September 21 addresses the controversy over the future of Chicago’s statues and will include a tour of some of those statues and a panel which will include, among others, members of the Monuments Commission appointed by Mayor Lightfoot following the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue during the George Floyd protests.  


Participants may choose either September 27 or 28 for a day at Ragdale, a six-acre campus for artists surrounded by 50 acres of Midwest virgin prairie. 


Interior of Ragdale


“For pure fun and great beauty, we will travel to the Lake Forest artist community where we will tour the buildings and prairie land that was the summer home of famed architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, see the artwork gifted by students and have a private performance designed specifically for Know Your Chicago,” Woloshin said.


On October 5 a cocktail reception at the Union League Club features leaders from Related Midwest, Discovery Partners Institute and others who will present The 78, Chicago’s newest neighborhood. Emerging on vacant land that once served shipping and rail activities and extending a half-mile on the Chicago River’s South Branch, this 62-acre site is bounded by Roosevelt Road, Clark Street, 15th Street, and the River. Visionary and unique, The 78 will offer handsome new residences, commercial enterprises, an academic, research and technology hub, cultural events, expansive parks, open space amenities, and transformative riverfront design.



Brain Health participants on either October 7 or 11 will hear from specialists in neurology as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s research who will relate the latest advances in treatment, hope gained in clinical trials, how our lifestyles can delay onset, music programs that are geared to patients and how caregivers can take care of themselves.


“Exciting new scientific data confirms that specific, simple life choices contribute to brain health. For those with brain disorder diagnoses, there is significant promise. More good news – Chicago is an epicenter for research, treatments, trials, and programs designed for people interested in strengthening their brain and addressing brain disorders,” Woloshin said.  “Join us for a day that will provide tools for prevention, treatment, and hope for the future of brain healing.”


WTTW’s Paris Shutz


The September 13th Symposium will feature Dr. Adam Green, University of Chicago Professor, on behalf of the Monumental Decisions tour; Carol Ross Barney for The 78, Ragdale Directors Michael Cleavenger and Regin Igloria, and Dr. Sam Sisodia for Brain Health. In addition, WTTW Chicago Tonight’s Paris Shutz will speak about the future of journalism in Chicago and beyond as well as the Chicago Teacher’s Union.


Mary Ward Wolkonsky with Mayor Richard M. Daley


Founded by legendary leader Mary Ward Wolkonsky in 1948, Know Your Chicago buses have taken participants to the places people need to know about and presented topics that change the lives of Chicagoans. Throughout its history, some of our city’s most admired and talented women have led the organization composed of almost fifty wise and invested women.


The University of Chicago Graham School has provided diverse educational programs for adults since the University’s founding in 1890. The long-standing partnership with Know Your Chicago is an example of its dedication to continuing education programs
and civic awareness. 


Woloshin described how the committee of almost 50 members chose this year’s tours.


“Committee members come to a meeting every January with ideas for potential tours.  We put all of them up on a whiteboard. Sometimes there are more than 50 suggestions.  Everyone goes away with assignments to research the pared down list, and in February come back with what we have learned.  Some possibilities have to be postponed or discarded because the site cannot accommodate us.  In March we vote for the final five. The Symposium is not a description of the tours but rather where the ideas are presented globally putting all our tours in context.” 


Woloshin cited the late Jo Minow, a Know Your Chicago leader of many years, who said: “I have never known a group in which, when someone asked who will work on this project, every hand went up.”  Woloshin added: “We really want our guests to know more about the city we all love.  Some tours are a little controversial, some aimed at fun, but all are educational, and hopefully give you something to think about and how you personally can get involved.”


Longtime Know Your Chicago leader Susan Aaron told us:


“Know Your Chicago has endured for 75 years, thanks to the brilliance and moxie of Founder Mary Ward Wolkonsky. Led by a stunning committee composed of generations of women with leadership and professional accomplishments (in a myriad of disciplines), KYC continues to offer deep dives into civic engagement. The vast array of topics covered (but not limited to) include the arts and culture; architecture, design, and development; the sciences and medicine; the public sector; banking; public policy; crime; community development; youth opportunities, transportation; the environment; retail; contemporary music and entertainment. Experts from each topic introduce and expand knowledge to our audience, and frequently provide new audiences to the KYC speakers’ institutions, entities, projects. Since tours began in 1949, KYC’s work has been enhanced by a broad variety of cooperating civic and women’s college partners. We are honored and privileged that the University of Chicago (Graham School) has partnered with us for all these decades. We look forward to presenting our 2023 Symposium and Season!”

Visit to register for its 2023 season. These tours sell out quickly, so make your reservations soon! For further information, call Know Your Chicago at 773-702-1727.