Last night’s 32nd anniversary of the Burnham Award Dinner was a massive success! The award honors Chicago leaders for making the city a better place to work and live – and I am humbled to be among them. 

I made Chicago my home back in 2010 and moved Clayco’s Headquarters to this great city because of its amazing business community, which the Chicago Chamber of Commerce helps support.

While I am extremely proud to receive the Award for Distinguished Leadership for civic contributions and positive impact, I could have never accomplished any endeavor alone. 

It is great to be among past honorees who strive to highlight the importance of giving back and engaging with communities and businesses. The award dinner is a small part of the legacy left by architect, urban planner, and businessman Daniel H. Burnham. More leaders should embrace Burnham’s philosophy that beauty has always paid better than commodities!

As someone who did not follow the traditional schooling path, I identify with Burnham, who also never attended architecture school. Burnham is a significant part of Chicago’s history and never made “little plans.” His contributions helped author the Plan of Chicago and developed much of the Chicago lakefront and the city as we know it today.

While President Biden was unable to be in attendance, I was honored to receive his congratulations, as he wrote: “Bob, I have always believed that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. And it’s visionary Americans like you who carry the torch of possibilities at the core of who we are.”

I would like to thank the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce for hosting the event and CIBC for presenting. I’m also thankful to the 600+ attendees who helped support the Chamber’s efforts, all of my friends, colleagues, and family in attendance, and my top mentor, coach, and best friend known as Mr. Chicago, Bob Wislow. He is the epitome of being a Chicagoan, so I was truly honored with his thoughtful introduction last night. 

The Chamber fights for laws that help businesses grow at the state, county, and city levels. It does its part in ensuring more jobs, improved skills, fair rules, and a booming economy. 

The Burnham Award is a reminder of the importance of civic involvement and how Chicago thrives with a fully engaged business community. Chicago is the city of HOPE, and when we all come together, we are able to do meaningful work to employ the underemployed, hold ourselves accountable to build more diverse workforces, and invest substantial time into meaningful youth programs across the city.

Let’s continue to do whatever it takes to get back to business and get our people back to work in the office!

A special thanks to my co-chairs: 

Norman Bobins, Lori T. Healey, Otto Nichols III, David L. Reifman, Michael J. Sacks, Jeff Shapack, Susan Sher, and Bob Wislow.

Learn more about the Burnham Award here.