The Making History Awards

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Art Johnson and Laura Ricketts.

The Chicago History Museum itself made history this month with the most successful fundraiser in 22 years of the Making History Awards.

No longer a cozy presentation in the museum auditorium, the 2016 awards in the ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago attracted more than 450 attendees and garnered a record $1 million to benefit the museum’s educational programs. Standing ovations were the norm; Art Johnston, above, winner of the Jane Addams Award for Distinction in Social Service, received one for merely walking to the podium, and another at the end of a rousing speech on behalf of the LGBT community.

In fact, it was an evening of enthusiastic consciousness raising, as one respected Chicago leader after another spoke with passion about the importance of respect and understanding for a specific group. Shirley Ryan, co-founder of, which reflects her focus on early detection and intervention for children’s motor, sensory and communication development, was also notably effective, bringing diners again to their feet. Andy McKenna presented her with the Bertha Honoré Palmer Making History Award for Distinction in Civic Leadership, on behalf of the absent Marca Bristo.

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Andrew McKenna and Shirley Ryan.

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The evening’s host, journalist and Chicago Museum Trustee Ali Velshi, welcomed guests.


Museum President Gary T. Johnson delivered remarks at the beginning of the evening.


Making History Event Chair Daniel S. Jaffee.

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Lester Crown presented Michael H. Moskow with the Harold Washington Making History Award for Distinction in Public Service.

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Bonnie Stearns, left, and Liz Stiffel at dinner.

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Outside the Four Seasons ballroom lobby before the awards: Denise Foy and Tico Valle.

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Guests enjoyed a full hour of fellowship at the pre-ceremony reception.

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Another group of guests at the reception.  


A special treat was the performance of a quartet of tenors from Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center, who entertained guests after dinner with a bit of mid-century history, a medley of Mario Lanza hits.

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The History Makers.


Photo Credit:

Dan Rest