BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
When former President of Ireland Mary Robinson addressed climate change and its connection to human rights at the recent Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center’s 25th Annual Spring Luncheon, the audience of 530 guests listened with rapt attention. Robinson, one of the world’s most respected advocates for climate justice, called for the room to “make a change, get angry and active” to support a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. Before a Q & A session, Robinson, who serves as Chair of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders formed by Nelson Mandela to tackle the world’s most pressing problems; the UN Special Envoy on Climate Change; and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, listed her own ways of commitment: “I decided to take it personally in my life and to do something that I hadn’t done before. I gave up meat in my diet. I also knew that I had to get more involved with my voice and my vote, using hope and resilience to fight for a sustainable future from a broad, bottom up awareness and imperative.”
Woman’s Board President Cindy Nicolaides and co-chairs Anne Loucks and Gwen Solberg welcomed guests and described their 2019 principal project, the Rush Community Service Initiatives Program, known as RCSIP. Retiring Rush CEO Dr. Larry Goodman noted that “the Woman’s Board has been involved in all aspects of the Rush’s mission through dollars, strategies and ideas, making the mission come alive.”
The luncheon menu said springtime, beginning with a chilled carrot ginger soup and, as in the 25 years past, guests favored pastels, flowers, and sleeveless looks at their most feminine.
Malou Rawls, Chair of the first Spring Luncheon, flew in from Richmond, Virginia, for the luncheon, which early-on set the tradition of inviting exemplarily women representing varied fields to address an always sold-out audience. Photos taken of luncheon guests throughout the years, when speakers have included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, first lady Laura Bush, and filmmaker Sherry Lansing, appeared on giant screens at the Hilton often drawing great joy in recognition.
Over $300,000 was raised by the annual event this year and will be directed to the Medical Center’s education, research, and community service programs supported by the Woman’s Board, including RCSIP. Established in 1991, RCSIP creates a network of community service programs that match Rush University students’ interests to the pressing social and healthcare needs of Chicago. With the guidance of Rush faculty who volunteer alongside Rush students, RCSIP’s mission is to provide access to healthcare to underserved Chicago communities, educate residents about healthy living, disease prevention and management, and sponsor programs to train and educate young people about career opportunities in health sciences. Every year, RCSIP programs train more than 10,000 Chicago residents living under the poverty level ages three and above.
For more information, visit thewomansboard.org.