City Club of Chicago: What fills your soul? Philanthropic Perspectives on Opening Hearts and Inspiring Minds

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Joshua Hale, John A. Canning, Jr., Steve Solomon, and Liz Thompson during the Philanthropic Perspectives on Opening Hearts and Inspiring Minds panel at the City Club of Chicago, November 20, 2017 (City Club of Chicago)

November 20, 2017

What fills your soul? Philanthropic Perspectives on Opening Hearts and Inspiring Minds – Moderated by Joshua Hale – John A. Canning, Jr., Steve Solomon, and Liz Thompson

Joshua Hale

Joshua D. Hale is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Big Shoulders Fund in Chicago, Illinois. The Big Shoulders Fund has been in existence for 30 years providing support for inner-city Catholic schools located in Chicago’s most underserved communities. The Big Shoulders Fund raises $18-20 million annually and has a $45 million endowment to support 77 schools (64 elementary and 13 high schools) serving 20,000 students – 80% minority and 66% living in poverty. Annual investments are focused on scholarships and student enrichment, operational management, academic and professional development programs, leadership development, and an adopt-a-school program.

Mr. Hale was also involved with numerous professional and philanthropic organizations. He was a fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago program and an inaugural member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Emerging Leaders Program. Currently, Mr. Hale serves on the Executive Committee of the School Board for the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Forums Committee of the Economic Club of Chicago, the Board of Directors of The Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, the Board of Directors of Amerigo, and the Next Generation Ad Hoc Committee of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He is a member of The Chicago Club, the Chicago Commonwealth Club, and of Vistage International. In 2010, Mr. Hale was recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business Journal as one of Chicago’s “40 Under 40.”

Previously, Mr. Hale was Director of Development / Public Relations and a member of the management team at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, Illinois. The model that Cristo Rey was founded on has since been replicated in other schools across the country. Prior to that, he worked for The Hale Group, Ltd., a strategic management consulting firm.

After graduating from Marquette University, Mr. Hale entered the Jesuit Volunteer International program and spent two years as a volunteer educator in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Mr. Hale resides in Chicago with his wife and their two sons.

John A. Canning, Jr.

Mr. Canning co-founded Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC (“MDP”) in 1992 and served as its Chief Executive Officer until becoming Chairman in 2007. MDP has raised investment funds with approximately $23 billion in limited partner commitments from over 400 endowments, pension funds and other sophisticated investors. MDP is one of the most experienced and successful private equity investment firms in the United States with 41 investment professionals.

Prior to co-founding MDP, Mr. Canning spent 24 years with First Chicago Corporation, most recently as Executive Vice President of The First National Bank of Chicago and President of First Chicago Venture Capital.

Mr. Canning has more than 35 years of experience in private equity investing and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Corning Incorporated and Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club; and is a Life Time Trustee of Northwestern University. Mr. Canning is Co-Chairman of the Big Shoulders Fund, a Director and Chairman of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a Trustee and Former Chairman of the Museum of Science and Industry, former Director and Chairman of The Economic Club of Chicago, former Chairman of The Chicago Community Trust, and Trustee and former Chairman of The Field Museum, and former Director and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He also serves on the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute Advisory Board.

Steve Solomon

Steve Solomon is Vice President of Corporate Relations of Exelon, the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, and President of the Exelon Foundation. He oversees Exelon, ComEd and Constellation’s corporate relations activities, including corporate giving, sponsorships, employee volunteer programs, and the Exelon Foundation. In his 32 years with the company, he has managed advertising, corporate communications, and audio-visual services, led change management initiatives, and created The Power House, a 30,000 square-foot hands-on energy museum in Zion, Ill.

Since joining the Corporate Relations group in 2002, Solomon has overseen over $190 million in grant making and helped create major initiatives and signature programs for the company. In 2005, he collaborated with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago to create the Exelon-ComEd-United Way Stay in School initiative. Celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, the program brings together nonprofit partners, public schools and employee mentors with the primary goal of helping students stay in school and graduate high school. Exelon and its electric utility subsidiary ComEd also hire a number of the students for summer internships. Over 25,000 students have participated in the program, and the vast majority of them have graduated high school. In 2007, the program received the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership, the only award from the White House that honors organizations for outstanding achievements in employee and community relations.

In 2006, Solomon started Exelon’s Energy for the Community program to promote employee volunteerism and encourage employees to volunteer in the community. Since the program started, employees have logged nearly a million hours of community service. In 2008, Exelon added its Dollars for Doers program to recognize employees for their volunteer work by providing grants based on the number of hours employees volunteer. Solomon expanded the program by introducing the Energy for the Community Volunteer Awards, which provides $200,000 annually in grants of $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 to nonprofits where individual employees volunteer over 50 hours annually. These two programs combined have awarded nearly $3 million in nonprofit grants to recognize employee volunteers. Energy for the Community volunteer program received the VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Program of the Year award in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Solomon currently is the board chair for Chicago Shakespeare Theater and serves on the Shedd Aquarium’s board, Morton Arboretum Advisory Board, and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Campaign Cabinet. He also volunteers for committee work with the following organizations: ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Public Schools Be Creative Campaign, Get IN Chicago, John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School, Museum of Science and Industry, Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, and Rowe Elementary School. He has previously served on Chicago High School for the Arts, Chicago Children’s Museum and Pope John Paul II Catholic School boards.

Solomon is a graduate of Illinois State University, where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in mass communications. He lives in Naperville with his wife Robin.

Liz Thompson

Liz Thompson is President of The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education and is deeply engaged in the non-profit community. She began her formal roll working with non-profits in 1993 when she was named founding executive director of City Year Chicago, a national service organization that was the template for the AmeriCorps Program.

In 1995, Thompson was named executive director of Family Star in Denver, Colorado, one of the only Early Head Start Montessori programs in the nation. During her tenure, she led a $5-million expansion of the organization. In 1998, she became active with local boards in the San Diego area where she gained further insight and experience in youth development and education and expanded her interest in philanthropy.

Prior to her work with non-profits, Thompson had a ten-year career with Ameritech Corporation as one of very few women in their network operations organization. During her decade with the corporation, she led various technical departments and was eventually named special assistant to the CEO of Ameritech Illinois and director of a three-state region for Field Operations.

Thompson serves as Vice Chairman of The Partnership for College Completion and is a Special Advisor to OneGoal. She is a director for The Museum of Science and Industry, Braven, and serves as co-chair of Purdue University’s Minority Engineering Program Advisory Panel. She is an alumnus of the Non-Profit Leadership Program of Denver and of the Leadership Greater Chicago Program where she currently also serves as a Director.

Thompson is married to Donald Thompson, Founder and CEO of Cleveland Ave, LLC and retired President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s Corporation. They have two adult children and live just outside Chicago, Illinois.

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