Distinguished Fellow Award

LGC established the annual Distinguished Fellow Award in 1999 to honor a Fellow who has made a significant leadership contribution to the community. All LGC Fellows are eligible to nominate their peers for this prestigious award.

The Distinguished Fellow is prominently recognized at LGC's annual Celebrate Leaders Dinner in the spring. 


Nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Fellow Award are now being accepted here. The deadline for all submissions is Monday, October 10 at 11:59 p.m. (Central). 


Jesse Ruiz & David Tropp

2015: Shannon Schuyler & Karen Tamley

2014: Andrea L. Zopp

Ricardo (Ric) Estrada 

2012: Honorable Patricia Brown Holmes 

2011: Tim King

2010: Bruce Rauner & Raul Raymundo

2009: Howard Learner

2008: Carole Brown

2006: Frank M. Clark

2005: David Vitale

2004: Richard Townsell

2003: Marca Bristo

2002: Jean Butzen

Michael T. Ivers

2000: John W. Rogers, Jr.

Jesse Ruiz, 2014

Jesse H. Ruiz counsels clients on business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity investments. He also represents clients in equity and debt offerings, financings, the purchase and sale of assets from bankruptcy estates and a variety of commercial transactions. Drawing on his experience in business, management consulting and his work in the public sector, Jesse also counsels public and privately-held companies and entrepreneurs on strategic initiatives and transactions.

Jesse also counsels clients on corporate finance issues; negotiation of consulting and other commercial agreements; reorganizations; corporate compliance; corporate governance issues; employment matters; and the formation of business entities in the United States, Latin America and Europe.

Additionally, he serves as the relationship partner for several major firm clients and supervises and manages all aspects of the firm’s legal services, including those in class action litigation, contract, corporate, compliance, customs and trade, environmental, labor and employment, intellectual property, land use and zoning, litigation, real estate and regulatory matters.

In 2016, Jesse became the president of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. He previously served as vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, as interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and as chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education.

David S. Tropp, 1995

David S. Tropp is currently an Executive Vice President with CBRE, joining the firm following its merger with Insignia/ESG. David is a thirty-four year real estate professional who has focused his career on the creation and implementation of real estate strategies on behalf of clients. An industry leader, he has been actively involved in more than 1,600 lease and sales transactions totaling over 110 million square feet and with transactions valued at over $6.5 billion. He has represented diverse clients: accounting firms, advertising, audio/video production, financial services, insurance companies, interactive media, law firms, nonprofit organizations, technology, telecommunications and Fortune 500 corporations. David has extensive experience with office, industrial, research and development, and technology requirements in Chicago, the Continental United States, Canada and Mexico.

David’s real estate career began in 1980 at Podolsky and Associates, joining Frain Camins & Swartchild in 1985. He was a partner at FC&S and was actively involved in the management of the company serving on the Executive Committee and leading the Tenant Representation Group until the acquisition in 1997 by Insignia Financial Group. CBRE, the largest fully integrated real estate organizations in the world, acquired IESG in 2003.

David has represented prestigious clients including The Art Institute of Chicago, Barnes & Thornburg, Cigna, Credit Suisse, Fireman's Fund, GEMS Education, K12, Packaging Corporation of America, Pactiv, RCN, Sprint Nextel Corp., Stericycle and Veolia. 

David currently serves on the Board of Directors of Metropolitan Family Services (1987-current) and chairs the Strategic Issues Committee and the Head Start Oversight Board and serves on the Executive Committee. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Leadership Greater Chicago and also served on the board from 1995-1997 as the class representative to the board. David is a past President of the Leadership Greater Chicago Fellows Association Board, joining the Fellows board in 2010. David previously served on the Board of Directors of Jewish Vocational Services (1994-2001), is a member of Chicago Office Leasing Association (COLBA), and served on the board of directors of Besco Graphics Systems (1985-1999).

David earned his BA in Finance, Accounting and Real Estate from the University of Illinois.

Shannon Leigh Schuyler, 2010

Shannon Schuyler is a Principal with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC US), and serves as the firm's Corporate Responsibility (CR) Leader of the Americas and as a member of PwC’s Global CR Board. Additionally, Shannon is the President of the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc.  

Shannon is responsible for formalizing the CR function for PwC. In her role, she designs and implements social and environmental programs that are scalable and aligned with PwC’s strategic business priorities—helping to activate engagement, drive operational efficiencies, elevate stakeholder engagement and connectivity, and differentiate PwC’s brand in the marketplace. She brings innovation to the firm by redefining the purpose, potential and business case for CR, proving it is as critical an avenue for achieving growth as any other business investment.  

Under her leadership, PwC’s CR programs are organized around four key pillars—marketplace, people, community and environment. She oversees initiatives that support PwC’s broad and robust sustainability commitments, including supply chain and pro bono programs; volunteering; charitable contributions; environmental stewardship; external partnerships, including the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI); and the firm’s focus on youth education through its signature commitment, PwC’s Earn Your Future.

Additionally, Shannon spends a portion of her time on the client-facing side as part of PwC’s Sustainable Business Solutions practice, working with clients on employee engagement strategies and their approach to internal sustainability.

Shannon is a highly accomplished and sought-after CR professional and speaker with a deep understanding of social innovation, sustainability, youth education, financial literacy, employee engagement and effective cross-sector collaborations. She is a board member of numerous charitable organizations, including the PwC Charitable Foundation and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). She also serves on the Advisory Committee for WAGE (Women and the Green Economy), Points of Light, Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship (BCCC), The Conference Board Contributions Council and the Clinton Global Initiative. Shannon is also a Fellow with Leadership Greater Chicago and the Foreign Policy Association.

PR News named Shannon its “2013 CSR Professional of the Year,” and in November 2013, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business honored her as “Female Executive of the Year – Business Services (2,500 or more employees).”  

Shannon joined PwC in 1997 and has held a variety of client service, marketing and human resources roles before assuming her current responsibilities in 2007.  She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and resides with her family in Chicago.

Karen M. Tamley, 1999

Karen Tamley was named Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) in March of  2005 by Richard M. Daley and reppointed by Mayor Rahm Emaunel in May of 2011.  MOPD promotes full inclusion of people with all types of disabilities and strives to make Chicago the most accessible city in the nation.

In her role as Commissioner, Ms. Tamley leads numerous disability policy and accessibility compliance initiatives in key areas such as transportation, city infrastructure, emergency preparedness, housing, schools and technology.  She also oversees the delivery of independent living services such as in-home supports, home accessibility modifications, amplified phones, and employment readiness to thousands of Chicagoans with disabilities. Commissioner Tamley serves as the City’s representative regarding disability related policy on a number of boards and committees, including the Pace Board of Directors, the region’s Paratransit service provider.

Under Commissioner Tamley’s leadership, Chicago received the Accessible America Award from the National Organization on Disability and for two years, MOPD was named “Best Government Department” by the Deaf Illinois.

For 15 years prior to her appointment, Tamley served in management, policy and advocacy roles at disability organizations in Washington D.C., Denver and Chicago. Prior to her appointment as Commissioner, she was the Director of Programs at Access Living a center for advocacy and services for people with disabilities in Chicago.

Commissioner Tamley earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Andrea L. Zopp, 1990

Andrea L. Zopp, a distinguished corporate and civic leader, was
appointed as President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League in September 2010. Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League supports and advocates for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans.

Before her appointment to the Chicago Urban League, Zopp was executive vice president and general counsel at the Exelon Corporation. Prior to joining Exelon, Zopp was senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Sears Holdings Corporation. Before joining Sears, Zopp was vice president, deputy general counsel in the law department at the Sara Lee Corporation.  Prior to Sara Lee, Zopp was a partner in the litigation department of the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Zopp was also the First Assistant State’s Attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the nation’s second largest prosecutor’s office. Zopp was the first woman and African American to serve in this role.

She currently serves on the board of Urban Partnership Bank and has served as a director of Andrew Corporation.

She is a member of the Chicago Board of Education and serves on the boards of Navy Pier, Inc., the Beverly Arts Center and Black Ensemble Theater. She has chaired the boards of the Chicago Area Project and Leadership Greater Chicago and served on the Harvard Alumni Association board of directors. Zopp spent several years on the board of trustees for the National Urban League and on the Cook County Health and Hospitals Systems board. She is active in several civic organizations and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Zopp received a bachelor’s degree in history and science and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard University.  Zopp and her husband, William, have three children, Alyssa, Kelsey and Will.

Ricardo Estrada, 2001

Ricardo (Ric) Estrada was named President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, one of Chicago’s first and largest human services agencies, in March 2011.

Estrada has more than two decades of leadership experience in social services/human services, philanthropy and government bringing expert perspective to areas including strategic planning and management, program development, communications, fundraising and education. He also is a sought-after speaker, addressing national and local audiences on issues ranging from private/nonprofit partnerships to the future of philanthropy.

Prior to joining Metropolitan Estrada served as First Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). There he helped manage a $460 million budget, developing strategies to strengthen program services supporting Chicago’s vulnerable families; focusing on children, youth, seniors and the homeless; as well as directing the department’s Emergency Services Division.

Before that he served as Executive Director of Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago, where his accomplishments included founding the Erie Elementary Charter School.

His record of civic and community involvement spans two decades. Most recently he was appointed to the Chicago Early Learning Executive Council and served on then Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel's Transition Committee for Social Services and Healthcare. Estrada was named a Trustee of the University of Illinois in January 2011. In addition he serves as Vice President, Board of Directors, of Leadership Greater Chicago; Board member of the Woods Fund of Chicago; Board member of Erie Elementary Charter School; and member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Selection Committee, Emerging Leaders Program.

Estrada’s awards include being named an American Marshall Memorial Fellow and the Loyola University Chicago Latino Alumnus of the Year, as well as receiving the City Club of Chicago John A. McDermott Award for Distinguished Social Leadership, and the University of Illinois at Chicago City Partner Award. In 2012 he was honored by the Chicago Bears with an NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. He received a Kellogg CEO Perspectives Fellowship in 2009. He also was selected as one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ "40 under 40" in 2002. 

Estrada’s educational background is grounded in social services and business, including an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an M.A. in Social Service Policy and Administration from the University of Chicago, and a B.S. in Psychology from Loyola University of Chicago.

Honorable Patricia Brown Holmes, 1993 

Patricia Holmes leads Schiff Hardin’s White Collar Crime and Corporate Compliance Group and co-chairs the firm’s Diversity Committee.  She is a trusted advisor and seasoned trial attorney whose diverse practice includes both corporate and criminal internal investigations, and representation of high-profile individuals and corporations in high stakes litigation.  Ms. Holmes joined Schiff Hardin after serving nine years as an associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.  Prior to that, she was a well-respected federal, state and local prosecutor.  Since returning to private practice, Patricia has won numerous professional honors, including being named by her peers as one of the top 50 Women Lawyers in Illinois by Leading Lawyer Magazine and one of the Chicago Urban League’s 2012 Women Making History, among others.

In addition to being recognized in her profession, she has dedicated a lifetime to public, community and civic service and serves in numerous capacities.  For instance, as Chair of Just the Beginning Foundation, she leads the nation’s premier pipeline organization dedicated to the diversification of the legal profession through mentoring teens and college students and introducing them to careers in the legal profession.  She serves on the board of LaRabida Hospital, an institution serving a special population of kids needing specialty medical care.  She was appointed by Governor Quinn in 2009 to chair the Cemetery Oversight Task Force that resulted from the Burr Oak cemetery scandal and was later named sole Trustee of the cemetery responsible for the clean-up and restoration of the historic resting place of many prominent African Americans.  She volunteered to be the first chair of the new Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission to assist in getting the statutorily designated commission off the ground and deal with allegations of police torture.  She serves her alma mater, the University of Illinois, as a Trustee, and has been tapped by both Senator Richard Durbin and Chief Judge Holderman to serve on their judicial screening committees and assist in selecting District Court and magistrate judges.

Patricia is married to Leo Catholic High School Vice President, Dean of Students and Head Football Coach, Michael Holmes.  They have three children, Aamir, Aasha and Demond.

Tim King, 1998

Tim King Tim King is Founder, President and CEO of Urban Prep Academies, a nonprofit organization operating a network of public college-prep boys’ schools in Chicago. Urban Prep, the nation’s first all-male charter high school, is designed to serve African American youth in some of Chicago’s most underserved communities. Committed to promoting college success for African American youth, Urban Prep has succeeded in making college a reality for students from neighborhoods where higher education is rarely seen as an option. Indeed, for two years in a row, 100% of Urban Prep seniors have been admitted to four-year colleges or universities. Under Mr. King’s visionary leadership, Urban Prep serves as a national model for transforming the education of underserved African American men.

Mr. King has received numerous awards and recognitions for his groundbreaking work. But his proudest role has been as guardian for an orphaned former student. That young man, previously homeless, has now graduated from college, under Mr. King’s guidance and care. Mr. King is an outstanding example of a Fellow who is making a significant impact on the community. 

Bruce Rauner, 1995

Bruce Rauner provides a powerful example of using business acumen and success to  improve civic life. A support of educational quality in Chicago, Mr. Rauner helped build the Chicago Public Education Fund and has supported local educational initiatives such as the Academy for Urban School Leadership, the Teacher’s Academy of Math and Science and the Rauner College Prep Charter School. Among his many partnerships to improve community life in the Chicago area, Mr. Rauner worked with YMCA to build the Rauner-Pilsen YMCA and supported the building of the American Red Cross Rauner Center. 

Raul Raymundo, 1996

For 20 years, Raul Raymundo has guided The Resurrection Project from a tiny grassroots group to a major force for community empowerment in Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards, Melrose Park and Stone Park. Under Mr. Raymundo’s visionary leadership, The Resurrection Project has promoted the revitalization of communities through affordable housing, child care facilities, workforce development, financial education, youth education, women’s health programs and more. Mr. Raymundo is committed to empowering rising community leaders and, through mentorship and training, has created a vast network of activists committed to civic good. 

Howard Learner, 1990

At the 25th Anniversary Dinner in May 2009, we were delighted to honor Howard Learner, founder and Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) with the 2009 Distinguished Fellow Award. Due to Howard’s outstanding leadership, ELPC is widely recognized as leading the charge on strategic policies to achieve environmental progress together with economic development. Howard and ELPC are policy innovators in promoting clean energy and Midwest high-speed rail development to create new “green” jobs, spur economic growth and reduce global warming pollution.

Howard is widely respected for his strategic vision and commitment to marrying environmentalism and economic growth. He served as a Senior Advisor on Energy and Environmental Issues to the Obama for President Campaign and his clean energy policy strategy has gained support from a diverse coalition of national, state and local policymakers, business groups, labor and environmental and civic organizations. The breadth of Howard’s commitments outside of ELPC are equally impressive –Friends of Israel’s Environment (Chair), American Council on Renewable Energy (Director), Citizen Action Illinois (Board Member), and Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University Law School. Howard was the founding President and Chairman of the Citizens Utility Board.

Carole Brown, 2002

At the August 2nd Annual Dinner, LFA named Carole Brown ‘02 as its 2007 Distinguished Fellow. Carole was honored for distinguishing herself as a leader in the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

A Managing Director of Lehman Brothers, Carole heads the firm’s Midwest Municipal Finance Office. Since 2003, Carole has also served in the challenging role of Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority Board, overseeing policy for the nation’s second largest transportation agency.

Carole is an active leader and volunteer in professional, political and nonprofit organizations. She has served on the Boards of the Chicago Children’s Museum, Mercy Foundation and Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, the Advisory Board of the Chicago Public Schools’ School Partner Program and the President’s Board of Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network. She is a member of the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee, The Economic Club of Chicago and The Executives’ Club of Chicago.

Frank M. Clark, 1986

Frank Clark began work in ComEd’s mailroom in 1966. He is now its Chairman and CEO. A lot has happened in the intervening years – both to Frank and ComEd – and the Chicago community is the great beneficiary. Tonight, we honor him for the leadership he has given this community.

The litany of organizations he has helped is probably as long as his leadership positions at ComEd. He currently chairs the Adler Planetarium and Metropolitan Family Services and serves on the Boards of DePaul University, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The University of Chicago Hospitals, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Governors State University Foundation, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, Big Shoulders Fund, and United Way.

Frank is also leading an initiative on behalf of the Chicago Community Trust – LGC’s founding organization. He chairs the African-American Legacy Fund to dramatically increase the level of African-American leadership philanthropy in the Chicago area.

The Selection Committee for the Distinguished Fellow Award was in full agreement with Frank’s nominators – John Costello, Sonny Gary, and Ruth Ann Gillis – who wrote, “Frank represents the very best of what Leadership Greater Chicago can expect from its Fellows, and he serves as an inspiration, mentor, and friend to many, including us.”

Finally, Frank’s commitment to LGC encompasses his participation in the 1986 Fellows class, his leadership in recommending outstanding ComEd Fellows.

David Vitale, 2005

David Vitale was named LGC's sixth Distinguished Fellow in recognition of his success in community leadership and commitment to diverse leadership, and to working with other Fellows. David currently is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Chicago Public Schools. Previously he served as CEO of the Chicago Board of Trade, Vice Chair of Bank One, and Vice Chair of First Chicago NBD. The breadth and intensity of David's commitments are impressive—the YMCA (Chair), Art Institute (Treasurer), Glenwood School for Boys (Chair) and many other important Chicago institutions. His involvement with Leadership Greater Chicago has been continuous since our inception—a Fellow in the first class, then a Board member, and the President in the early '90s.

Richard Townsell, 2004

Richard Townsell was Leadership Greater Chicago's fifth Distinguished Fellow. Richard was named Executive Director of Lawndale Christian Development Corporation in 1992. He brought his life experience growing up in poor communities and his previous work experience as a high school teacher for five years to the task of transforming one of Chicago's most impoverished neighborhoods. Under Richard's leadership North Lawndale has benefited from almost 200 units of housing, child care spaces for over 200 children, educational enrichment programs for over 600 youths in the community, and, most importantly, a sense of empowerment that they now have a say in their future. As a leader in the work of United Power for Action and Justice, Richard has worked on social justice and empowerment issues on a metropolitan scale.

Marca Bristo, 2003

Nationally recognized disability rights advocate Marca Bristo, 1992 Fellow, became the fourth Distinguished Fellow. Bristo says that she "literally dove into leadership" 25 years ago when she broke her neck in a diving accident. Since then, she has worked with local, national and international leaders to change the lives of people with disabilities. In 1980, Bristo co-founded Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, which has served more than 30,000 people with disabilities, 80 percent of whom are on fixed incomes. In addition to housing, Access Living addressed the full array of issues affecting people with disabilities, including transportation, education and employment issues.

In 1994, Bristo was the first person with a disability to be appointed by the President to chair the National Council on Disability. She helped found the Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing and the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. She has been a member of official U.S. delegations to the United Nations.

Jean Butzen, 2002

Jean Butzen, 1995 Leadership Fellow and Executive Director of Lakefront SRO (now Lakefront Supportive Housing), was named 2001 distinguished Fellow. Jean served as President of Lakefront SRO since its inception in 1986 until its merger with Mercy Housing in 2005. She led the development of more than1000 units of supportive housing for adults representing an investment of over $54 million. Under her leadership, Lakefront SRO grew from a small community-based corporation organized to save one building in Uptown to a citywide development company with 165 employees. Jean has also served as president of the Chicago Rehab Network and on the boards of the Corporation of Supportive Housing, the Alliance to End Homelessness, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago Advisory Committee.

Michael T. Ivers, 2001

LGC honored Mike Ivers, former pastor of St. Agatha's Roman Catholic Parish North Lawndale (and currently Executive Director of Goodcity) as our second Distinguished Fellow. Mike was selected for his 13 years of leadership in North Lawndale. During this time he not only has served his parishioners, he has organized anti-gang programs, organized efforts to eliminate substandard housing, built new housing, and brought new retail stores to the west side. He was also instrumental in the creation of the metropolitan wide United Power for Action and Justice—a multi-denominational effort to provide healthcare and housing in the region.

John W. Rogers, Jr., 2000

John W. Rogers, Jr., a 1985 Fellow and President of Ariel Capital Management, was the first Distinguished Fellow Award recipient. John created Ariel Capital Management in 1983 and led its growth to a firm that manages $2.5 billion in assets. He established the Ariel Foundation in 1991 and ‘adopted' 40 sixth grade students at Shakespeare Elementary School in Kenwood and made a commitment that every student graduating from high school would be able to afford college. He dedicated staff and financial resources to make this possible, including tutoring, mentoring and family support, and funding parochial and private high school tuition. Eventually 84% of the students graduated from high school and 65% went on to college. In contrast, 68% of the students in Shakespeare's previous two classes dropped out of high school.

John served as President of the Board of the Chicago Park District and has made long-term Board commitments to the Chicago Urban League and Family Focus. John has shown a rare ability to cross boundaries among leaders. He has worked with both Republicans and Democrats, leaders of all racial and ethnic backgrounds and public and private leaders. In his business he has created socially responsible investment funds and funded research on investment practices of African Americans to encourage use of the stockmarket as a means of building wealth in the community.