MPC's 2018 Annual Luncheon - Metropolitan Planning Council

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MPC's 2018 Annual Luncheon

The Creativity Factor: How Art and Culture Impact Communities

At the Metropolitan Planning Council’s (MPC) Annual Luncheon on Wednesday, September 12, Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and former president and director of the Chicago History Museum captivated the audience with his call not to lose our city’s “amazing synergy between the corporate, political, and artistic communities. Chicago is the only city in America where [these groups] get together and talk about how they could make the city better. In some ways, Chicago really is the model of what a city could and should be.”

More than 700 business, government, civic and community leaders attended the Hilton Chicago luncheon, which raised more than $1,040,000 to expand MPC’s capacity to deliver urban planning solutions and to advance racial equity. Bunch was interviewed by Joy Bivins, chief curator of the International African American Museum, which opens in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2020.

“From opera to spoken word, from ballet to salsa, our city and region are rich with artists who inspire, create, and make our region a better, more vibrant place to live, work, and raise a family,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett.

Also at the luncheon, MPC presented Patrick G. Ryan, Chairman & CEO of Ryan Specialty Group, with the Champion Fighter Award for his extraordinary civic contributions to philanthropy and scholarship in our region.


“How do the arts strengthen communities?” Lonnie G. Bunch III reflected on the theme of MPC’s 2018 Annual Luncheon. Bunch discussed how culture is a binding force for vibrant places.

"The arts matter to people even when you think it doesn’t. What’s so powerful about the arts, it’s a glue,” Bunch said. “[The arts] hold communities together.”

Bunch was introduced by Todd Brown, Chair of the Metropolitan Planning Council Board of Governors. “One individual who truly knows the power of arts, culture and history is Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture,” said Brown. “Getting a ticket to the so called Blacksonian is hard. Like Hamilton hard. But I can tell you, it’s absolutely worth the wait. It was the museum opening of the century!”

Since 1934, MPC has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow.


MPC proudly presented Patrick G. Ryan, Chairman & CEO of Ryan Specialty Group, with the Champion Fighter Award for his determined work to ensure a sustainable, equitable and competitive future for the entire Chicago region. Scott Swanson, President of PNC Illinois, introduced Andrew J. McKenna—Chairman of Schwarz Supply Source and 2013 Champion Fighter—who presented the award to Ryan.

“Nothing compares to the personal impact Pat—and especially—Shirley have had on the people of Chicagoland,” McKenna said. “Whether through their commitment to Northwestern University where they established the nation’s largest needs-based scholarship… to the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, which has reimagined what it means to be a rehab and research center… to Pat’s personal commitment to visit all 50 Chicago wards when he chaired Chicago 2016… to the investment in the arts, the Ryans’… civic commitment benefits us all.”

A widely respected entrepreneur and global insurance leader, Patrick G. Ryan formed Ryan Specialty Group, LLC (RSG) in 2010. Prior to launching RSG, Mr. Ryan founded Aon Corporation and served as its Chairman and CEO for 41 years. At Mr. Ryan’s retirement, Aon had more than 500 offices in 120 countries, generating revenues then in excess of $7 billion.

Mr. Ryan has received numerous accolades throughout his career, from the esteemed Horatio Alger Award, to induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to election into the International Insurance Society Hall of Fame, to the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr. Ryan has been a member of the Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees for 39 years, 14 years of which he served as Chairman. In 2009, Northwestern awarded Mr. Ryan a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Also that year, Mr. Ryan was inducted into the Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame. Four years later in 2013, Mr. Ryan received the Northwestern Alumni Association Medal of Honor, the highest award granted to an alumnus/a who combines superior professional distinction and/or exemplary volunteer service to society, with an outstanding record of service to Northwestern.

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 preview the 2018 Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning, which we’ll present Space to Grow later this year. Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into beautiful and functional spaces to play, learn, garden and be outside.

The Twitter hashtag for this year’s Luncheon was #MPCLuncheon.

Learn more about MPC's 2018 Annual Luncheon:

"Highlights from our 2018 Annual Luncheon" by Liz Granger includes video coverage of the event


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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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