Local Women Discuss Philanthropy


“I’m on the Women’s Board of Misericordia Heart of Mercy, a home for children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. Having a child with special needs brought my attention to this amazing place. The quality of life they provide for their residents is amazing.” Rebecca Besser, vice president, Intersport and co-owner, CelebTV

“I’m a trustee of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. I love the arts and the diversity of the performances presented there and adore Joan Harris (in whose honor the building is named).” Dori Wilson, owner/president, Dori Wilson Public Relations

“I’ve enjoyed working with Future Founders Foundation. The non-profit youth entrepreneurship program provides resources and mentors to help low-income, area students create/present business plans in an annual competition before some of the city’s top business leaders. The passion, intelligence and ingenuity the students show makes me proud and excited for Chicago’s future.” Lauren Jiggetts, anchor/reporter, NBC-5

“I serve on the board of the Chicago Children’s Choir. I love this organization because it not only teaches kids about the beauty of music but through music, it teaches kids about diversity and acceptance and gives them a global perspective on the world.” Ellee Pai Hong, host, Comcast Newsmakers

“The Frances Xavier Warde School set a goal to have parents, students, faculty and staff do 4,000 hours of service. We led the effort by volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. We saw the dedication of the staff and the amazing way the Ronald McDonald House demonstrates the compassion and love a family needs during a stressful period.” Mary Reiling, head, Frances Xavier Warde School

Catholic Charities is my favorite charitable organization because it’s not a social board, nor is it a cultural institution. The work they do encompasses everything I believe in. They serve the poorest of the poor, elderly, homeless, men, women, children and families in need. The work accomplished in the city and suburbs is truly amazing and underappreciated.” Myra Reilly, partner, John Reilly Photography

“I co-founded Audience Architects in 2005 and am currently president of the board. It’s a trade association whose mission is to build audiences for dance in Chicago. I grew up studying dance for more than 20 years and it has always been my passion.” Carol Fox, president, Carol Fox & Associates

“My favorite charitable organization is the Chicago United Way Women’s Leadership Council. I love empowering other female leaders in Chicago to do good in our community while doing well in their careers. ” Kathleen Henson, founder/CEO, Henson Consulting

“I am a board member of Green City Market – a gathering place for farmers, Chicago chefs, families and individuals to mingle and enjoy the largest, not-for-profit, farmers market in Lincoln Park. Having my own children, educating them to make healthy food choices is important. At Green City Market, we have programs that explore ways to eat healthy, local and seasonal produce as well as guide families to cook farm-to-table meals together at home.” Eva Davidman, triathlete/philanthropist

“I am on the board of the Service Club of Chicago. As a member, I see first hand what this organization has done to change so many lives throughout the years. For example, providing a bus for an after school organization, or purchasing air conditioners for a domestic violence shelter for women and children.” Elizabeth Brodsky,  philanthropist

“My favorite charitable organization is The National Museum of Mexican Art. I truly love to promote awareness of and appreciation for Mexican and Mexican American Art.” Jessica Priego, president, JPriego Communications

“I truly enjoy my volunteer work for the board of the Children’s Research Fund of Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. When I joined the board earlier this year, I did so because of my family’s own personal experiences with hospitalizations for children. Medical care and research has advanced so much over the past years, and I made a conscious decision to financially support the hospital and the valuable research the fund provides.” Grace Sergio, owner, Sergio & Banks Real Estate

“I’d honestly have to say that Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation is my favorite charity! Not only because I’m able to carry out my son’s vision in his memory, but in addition, over the last 20 years that the foundation has been in existence, we have been able to help thousands of other childhood cancer non-profits all that I hold very close to my heart. The foundation has also provided me the opportunity to be involved with many charities who are either supporting Bear Necessities or other childrens’ charities as well. So I feel so blessed to be able to be involved in a variety of ways with many charitable organizations helping children most specifically with cancer.” Kathleen A. Casey, CEO/president/founder, Bear Necessities Cancer Foundation


About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.