Landmarking Illinois Influencers




By Judy Carmack Bross




(L-R): Juan Moreno, Project Design Principal, President & Founder, JGMA; Jay Rowell, Executive Director, HIRE360; Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO; Dilla Thomas, Chicago Historian & Co-Founder, Chicago Mahogany Foundation; Lisa Yun Lee, Executive Director, National Public Housing Museum; Jackie Taylor Holsten, SVP & General Counsel, & Peter Holsten, President, Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation.          Credit: David T. Kindler


 Landmarks Illinois powerhouse President Bonnie McDonald, resplendent in a white satin jacket, led a marching brass band aptly dubbed Environmental Encroachment across the Old Post Office to the celebration of 2024 Preservation Influencers while lighted landmarks floated like Japanese lanterns amidst the 730 guests.  Chaired by Erika Block, Vice Chair of the Landmarks Illinois Board, the gala raised $600,000 for its mission-driven work


Environmental Encroachment marches guest in to Landmarks Illinois Influencer awards


Celebrating at the Old Post Office Building completed in 1921.          Credit: Christopher Andrew.


The event attracts like-minded professionals, including architects, developers, activists, artists, tradespeople and those engaged in community development, who gather for a shared mission: to support and uplift Landmarks Illinois’ efforts to help people save places across the state. The evening began with cocktails in the dazzling restored historic lobby and grand hall which feature original fixtures from the once threatened building saved with the help of Landmarks Illinois’ sustained advocacy. Guests mingled with some of today’s leading preservationists, each rightly named a “2024 Influencer.”


2024 Landmarks Illinois Influencer Shermann “Dilla” Thomas being honored on stage with Erika Block, Landmarks Illinois Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and President Forward Event Committee Chair, and Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO.          Credit: David T. Kindler


2024 Landmarks Illinois Influencers Peter Holsten, Jackie Taylor Holsten and Lisa Yun Lee during the main program.          Credit: David T. Kindler


Janet Stengle, Daspin Aument, LLC; Marco Del Arca, Morstenson; Alyssa Frystak, PlaceEconomics and Chair of the Skyline Council of Landmarks Illinois; Rosette Stavrou, Holsten Human Capital Development, NFP.          Credit: David T. Kindler


Honored influencers were: Lisa Yun Lee, Executive Director of the National Public Housing Museum; Juan Moreno, Project Design Principal, President and Founder, JGMA; Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, Chicagoan historian and Co-Founder, Chicago Mahogany Tours; Non-Profit Influencer Hire360, represented by Jay Rowell, Executive Director; and Corporate Influencer, Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation, represented by Senior Vice President and General Counsel Jackie Holsten and President Peter Holsten. 


Emcee Jacoby Cochran of City Cast Chicago.          Credit: David T. Kindler


Jacoby Cochran, host of Chicago’s daily podcast City Cast Chicago, served as Emcee.


Supporters raise their paddles to donate to Landmarks Illinois.          Credit: David T. Kindler


Catherine Ferrari, Bauer Latoza, Tyler Porter, Bauer Latoza; Anika Allen, Bauer Latoza; Genevieve Fabisch, Eugene Cohen Insurance Agency.          Credit: David T. Kindler


The band Environmental Encroachment and lanterns featuring buildings inspired by the work of the 2024 Landmarks Illinois Influencers entertain the crowd.          Credit: David T. Kindler


Several Influencer alumni attended, including: 2023 Influencers Sarah Wick of Related Midwest and Calvin Holmes of Chicago Community Loan Fund; 2022 Influencers Tonika Lewis Johnson, a social justice activist, Cheryl Johnson of People For Community Recovery, and Eleanor Esser Gorski, now of Chicago Architecture Center.


Jaqui Hill, owner of Whipped Inc., shows off her desserts at the After-Party.          Credit: Christopher Andrew.


 The rousing after-party featured an array of specially curated desserts from local bakeries Brown Sugar Bakery, Borinken Cakes, Struggle Beard Bakery, Verzenay Chicago and Whipped Inc.


McDonald told us before the gala:


“Every year, Landmarks Illinois looks to honor people throughout Chicago and the state who are creating a positive and lasting impact on preservation and who are progressing the field forward. Our 2024 Influencers are a unique and diverse group of natural leaders who are passionate about saving places for the benefit of all. Through their work, they are engaging new audiences, bringing new life to historic places, training the next generation of preservation professionals and providing resources to underserved communities.” 


Landmarks Illinois Staff: (l-R) Kaitlyn McAvoy, Suzanne Germann, Quinn Adamowski, Sam Lilly, Alma Rebronja, Leila Wills, Bonnie McDonald, Marija Rich, Lauren Dalton, Kendra Parzen.          Credit: David T. Kindler


Photo credits: Christopher Andrew and David T. Kindler


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