Introducing the 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans of 2019

By: Julie Youngquist August 13, 2019

 For Immediate Release


August 13, 2019 (Chicago) – StreetWise is pleased to announce the 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans of 2019. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy, Second City Alum Heather Whinna and Local R&B sensation Jamila Woods among 20 Most Inspiring of 2019.  All of the honorees are making the city a better place to live and work. The honorees were nominated from by the public and selected by a committee of Streetwise Board of Directors and affiliated partners. They will be celebrated at the annual StreetWise Gala Celebration on September 26th at Galleria Marchetti.

 “Honoring those heroes among us who are making our city even stronger is so important as I believe it will inspire others to think about ways, they can make a positive impact in the community as well,” says Ben Swartz, StreetWise Board Chair. “We received hundreds of nominations from the public, which demonstrate the enduring spirit of philanthropy and empowerment baked into the culture of Chicago. Our 20 honorees represent a wide variety of courageous people who inspire all of us at StreetWise and our great city.”

Here is this year’s 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans (short bios for each are included below):

Michael Airhart, CEO All Kids Matter Foundation and Taste for the Homeless

Adam Alonso, CEO BUILD

Dr. Pat Angelo, Found CCH Wellness and Angel of Wacker Drive

Tracy Baim, Publisher of the Chicago Reader and Co-founder of Windy City Times

Lisa Dietlin, Philanthropy Expert and Transformational Change Agent

Liz Dozier, Founder and CEO, Chicago Beyond

Jessica Droste-Yagan, CEO, Impact Engine

Jan Anne Dubin, CEO and Founder of Jan Anne Dubin Consulting, Chairman Emeritus, Public Allies

Amy Francetic, CEO, The Energize Fund

Candace Henley, Founder Blue Hat Foundation

Tuan Huynh, Senior Art Director at Leo Burnett

Constance Jones, CEO, Noble Network of Schools

Jim Kales, CEO Aspire

Dan Klaff, Community Development Attorney

The Honorable Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago

JD Miller: Founder, Care for Friends, CRO Motus, LLC

Rendel Solomon, Founder of One Stock One Future and Managing Director with Muller & Monroe Asset Management

Jeff Tweedy, Lead Singer of Wilco

Heather Whinna, Founder, Unconditional Giving, and Poverty Alleviation Chicago

Jamila Woods, R&B Singer, Artist, and Activist


“The 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans Award celebrates those who champion and empower our neighbors each day, many of whom are disenfranchised and without hope,” says Julie Youngquist, Chief Executive Officer.  “We found true catalysts for change during this process, much like StreetWise Magazine has been a catalyst for change for more than 25 years. We look forward to recognizing these individuals at our annual StreetWise Gala Celebration and appreciate the positive difference they are making in our city and surrounding communities.”