RUSH Launches Fall Fundraisers

Woman’s Board President Cindy Mancillas, at right, with husband Kurt Mancillas.

“Illuminate,” the theme of The Woman’s Board of RUSH University Medical Center’s gala kicking off this fall’s fundraising season, perfectly described the light the Board tirelessly shines onto the Center’s vital programs, which have a profound international medical impact.


Nora Hennessy and Barrett Kurmann enjoy Crate & Barrel’s luxurious patio vignette.


Amy Brock, Murray Ancell (SVP and Chief Development Officer at RUSH), and Meghan Harrell.

The nearly 400 guests, walked through yards of up-lit drapery at the entrance to the Theatre at the Lake, and were captivated by the “Living Hoops” performance lit with vibrant colors. Guests—many of whom had followed the invitation to Dress to Dazzle–were dubbed “illuminaries” by co-chairs Erin Ritchie and Sonja Smith for their generosity to the Center’s education, research, and community service programs. A starry night illuminated Lake Michigan as guests danced to the music of DJ Madrid on the outdoor terrace.


Living Hoops from Stage Factor.


DJ Madrid.

“It was incredible to be together with so many old and new friends on an unparalleled, glorious September night in downtown Chicago, united in our aim to further the groundbreaking work at RUSH and to begin to realize the infinite possibilities of Cellular Therapy in the fight against cancer,” Ritchie shares.

“The evening felt like the warmest hug wrapped in the biggest smile,” Smith divulged. “Guests were truly aglow and overjoyed as they reunited with friends in such a special venue. It was heartwarming to see everyone so happy to be together in person again, dazzled by the living decor, entertained by the musical performances, and energized by the Live Auction. Bright lights were shining for RUSH!”


Branden and Erin Ritchie (event co-chair) with Bob and Sarah Cearley.


Liz Lattanzio, Matt Calistri, Kerri Calistri, Marianne Nielsen, and Sonja Smith (event co-chair)

The first in-person Fall Benefit since 2019 featured strolling illusionists Justin Purcell and Mike O’Donnell, stations from Food for Thought, and a surprise performance by the Youth Choral Theater began the program. Adroit auctioneer Alyssa Quinlan, of long-time Woman’s Board supporter Hindman, emceed the live auction.


The Youth Choral Theater’s performance kicked off the program.


Mindy Kelly and Buffy Maier enjoy the Live Auction.

Dr. Omar Lateef, President and CEO of RUSH University System for Health and of RUSH University Medical Center, spoke about the historic and unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 on the healthcare industry and how RUSH rose to the challenge, thanks to its forward thinking and ability to adapt, a deep commitment to its mission, and the continued support of organizations like The Woman’s Board.


Joan and Paul Rubschlager with Dr. Omar Lateef, President and CEO of RUSH.

Dr. Lateef also recognized Joan and Paul Rubschlager, for whom two buildings on RUSH’s campus are named (the Joan and Paul Rubschlager Building at RUSH and the Joan and Paul Rubschlager Tower) and who were in attendance that evening, for their generous and enduring commitment to the Medical Center.

Cindy Mancillas, the current President of the Woman’s Board, greeted guests and shared information about the evening’s beneficiary and the Board’s 2022 principal project, The Woman’s Board Fund for Excellence in Cellular Therapy. The Fund will facilitate the work of RUSH physician-scientists introducing exciting but highly complex cellular therapies into patient care. Providing for care coordination, research to further personalize these novel therapies and support for patients undergoing treatment, the Fund will strengthen RUSH’s current position as a destination program in the Midwest for lung cancer, melanoma, and hematologic malignancies-areas where cell therapies are rapidly advancing.

The evening concluded with Late Night Bites included an “Is it already breakfast?” burrito and gourmet fried chicken biscuits, both served from a specialty vendor cart as guests departed out into the night, under the stars.


Meg Sauer and Kerri Schoonyoung.


Najia Shakoor, Uzma Khan, and Shaila Verma.


Brett and Margaret Nelson.


Emily Reynolds, Sally Brown Tillman, and Kathryn A’Hearn.


For further information about the Woman’s Board and its programs, visit