Congrats to MPC's 2017 Annual Luncheon Awardees - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Congrats to MPC's 2017 Annual Luncheon Awardees

Moonhouse Productions for MPC

Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail, winners of the 2017 Burnham Award for Excellence In Planning

At MPC's 2017 Annual Luncheon on Friday, we had the honor of recognizing local leaders whose efforts to improve Chicagoland we've long admired. In addition to presenting our keynote—a rousing conversation between Tom Ricketts, Executive Chairman of the Chicago Cubs, and Natalie Moore, WBEZ’s South Side Reporter—we were overjoyed to honor John A. Canning, Jr., Chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC, with the Champion Fighter Award, and the Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail and the Cal-Sag Coalition with the 2017 Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning. 


MPC proudly presented John A. Canning, Jr., Chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC, with the Champion Fighter Award for his determined work to ensure a sustainable, equitable and competitive future for the Chicago region. King Harris—Chairman of the Illinois Housing Development Authority and Harris Holdings, Inc., President of the Harris Family Foundation, MPC senior fellow, and MPC’s 2016 Champion Fighter—presented the award to Canning.

John A. Canning, Jr. accepts the 2017 Champion Fighter Award from King Harris, MPC's 2016 recipient. They stand with Canning Scholar, Jalen Harris.

At Madison Dearborn Partners, John has “made huge impact on companies looking to transform, grow or improve their businesses,” Harris said. “But outside the board room, he—along with his wife Rita—have transformed thousands of lives of those who face some of the toughest challenges imaginable. 

Throughout John’s 35+ years in private equity investing, he and Rita Canning have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to philanthropy and scholarship. The Cannings provide 100 scholarships each year to parochial schools for students who wish to attend but can’t afford to do so. And they fund undergraduate and community college scholarships for students who have surmounted hurdles posed by socioeconomic hardship and domestic violence to help secure their future success. The Cannings generously support WINGS (Women in Need Growing Stronger) which provides shelter and services to abused women and their children.

John’s commitments range from corporate boards like Corning, Exelon and the Milwaukee Brewers to civic institutions like Northwestern University, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Museum of Science and Industry, and the Economic Club of Chicago. He is a former Trustee and Chairman of the Chicago Community Trust, a Trustee and former Chairman of The Field Museum, and former Director and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

John A. Canning, Jr. is also Co-Chairman of the Big Shoulders Fund. In this role, John has helped raise more than $100 million for urban parochial schools which serve 24,000 students, 80 percent of color and 62 percent from families that are living at or below the poverty level.

MPC established the Champion Fighter Award in 1959, as a special honor for individuals who have exemplified the concept of responsible leadership on behalf of the public interest. Previous award winners include Mayor Richard J. Daley; Ferd Kramer, founder, Draper and Kramer; Dorothy J. Rubel, longtime MPC executive director; Lester Crown, chairman, Henry Crown & Company; and W. James Farrell, former CEO, Illinois Tool Works Inc.


The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is pleased to honor the Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail and the Cal-Sag Coalition with the 2017 Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning.

Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail is a dedicated group of volunteers, trail users, trail advocates, business people, bicyclists, walkers and naturalists. The Cal-Sag Coalition is an intergovernmental, public-private partnership between 14 communities.

Together these organizations are building the Cal-Sag Trail, a multi-use path along the banks of the Cal-Sag Channel and Calumet River that will one day extend from Lemont to Calumet City. The 26-mile-long trail will connect 185,000 people to jobs, open space, and each other.

The story of the Cal-Sag Trail’s development exemplifies the power of volunteers and governments to advance a shared strategic vision that builds community and enriches Chicagoland’s underutilized spaces.

“The Cal-Sag Trail demonstrates the value of wonderful, large-scale projects that result from residents and government working together,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett.

Since 1988, MPC’s Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning—named in honor of Daniel H. Burnham, creator of the 1909 Plan of Chicago—has encouraged sensible growth by honoring innovative and visionary planning and implementation in the Chicago metropolitan region.

Congrats to our 2017 Awardees!


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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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