Fifth Annual Benefit Luncheon

Fifth Annual Benefit Luncheon

Celebrating 35 years and sharing our vision for the Alliance in a new era, our Fifth Annual Benefit Luncheon on June 8, 2017, brought nearly 400 artistic, business, creative, and philanthropic leaders from across Illinois to the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.

We were truly honored by the generous support of our attendees, and deeply moved by the creative contributions of early-career artists from After School Matters, the Chicago Academy for the Arts Jazz Combo, the Kuumba Lynx Performance Ensemble, and Natya Dance Theatre.

“It’s all too rare that we come together to celebrate the richness that arts and culture bring to our lives,” noted Alliance Executive Director Claire Rice. “We’ve all experienced personal transformation through the arts, and many of you represent organizations dedicated to providing those experiences for your audiences. A sector so often dedicated to understanding the lives of others needs its own advocate to tell its story.”

Angelique Power, President of the Field Foundation of Illinois, presented our 2017 Citizen Advocate Award to Chicago-based cultural leaders Janet Carl Smith and Mel Smith; and Kelly Leonard, Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation at The Second City, presented internationally acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming, Creative Consultant at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with our inaugural Creative Voice Award.

“Public funding for the arts is under threat yet again,” Fleming observed, “so now more than ever, the Alliance is important to the health of these job-providing and community-nurturing organizations. I believe that the arts enrich all of our lives, in ways we’re just beginning to understand.”

Benefit Committee
Cheryl Cooke
Ginger Farley
Brooke Flanagan
DeNalda Guice Gay
Peter Handler
Joan Harris
Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim
Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel
Steve Solomon
Paul Sznewajs

Event Planning Committee
DeNalda Guice Gay, Co-Chair
Cayenne Harris, Co-Chair
Kassie Davis
Jim Ferolo
Meredith Mack
Teresa Samala de Guzman
Julie Schmidt
Scott Silberstein

Patron Sponsors
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Columbia College Chicago
Exelon Corporation
Ginger Farley
Irving Harris Foundation
The Reva and David Logan Foundation
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel
Northern Trust

Partner Sponsors
Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
The Poetry Foundation
Janet Carl Smith and Mel Smith
Diane Spradlin
Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Helen Zell

Benefit Sponsor Allstate and Media Sponsor CS

For more information, please contact Sangini Brahmbhatt, Development Director, at or 312.855.3105 x13.