Chicago Steering Comittee

Allen M. Turner

A longtime theatre-lover and Chicago South Side native, Allen M. Turner has been an advocate for the arts for several decades. As chairman of the Columbia College Chicago Board of Trustees, Allen Turner has been active on promotional committees for the Newberry Library; the Market Theater Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Art Institute of Chicago; and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, for which he also served as chairman of the board from 1991 to 1996.

Frank Clark

After a 46-year career, Frank Clark recently retired as chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison, where he worked his way up from the mailroom to head the largest electrical company in Illinois. In a 2003 issue of EBONY magazine, he talked about his journey to become the company’s first African-American CEO, after his wife, Vera, urged him to take the “mailboy” position because it paid $15 more per month than his job at a Catholic bookstore. Frank Clark’s long history of civic involvement includes serving on the boards for the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Community Trust, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, for which he co-chairs the capital campaign.

Lester Coney

Lester Coney is known for his humanism and support of the arts, having served as trustee of the Kohl Children’s Museum, the Auditorium Theater Council, Columbia College Chicago, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, among many others. He was also a delegate for the Governor of Illinois Trade Mission to South Africa in 2000, and he was personally appointed as part of the Kennedy Center’s board by President Obama. As the vice president of Mesirow Financial, Lester Coney has received multiple awards for his philanthropy and civic activism, including the King Legacy Award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, and the Philanthropic Leadership Award bestowed by 100 Club of Chicago. He resides in the Windy City’s West Loop.

John Edelman

John Edelman is the managing director of Global Engagement and Corporate Responsibility for Edelman, a leading independent global PR firm. He is responsible for promoting the company’s global outreach, which includes areas of community philanthropy and engagement with social issues. He serves as president of the Edelman Foundation, a private, nonprofit charitable organization devoted to giving back to the community through voluntarism, grant foundations, and other social philanthropy.

Martin Nesbitt

In addition to being president and CEO of The Parking Spot—a highly lucrative airport-parking company—Martin Nesbitt has made a name for himself on the campaign trail, serving as national chairman of President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. To this day, he is one of President Obama’s closest friends, with the president being godfather to Martin’s youngest son. A patron of arts and education, Nesbitt is a trustee of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as a member of the University of Chicago Laboratory School Board and, formerly, of the United Negro College Fund Advisory Council. He has been active for several years in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and served as chairman of the DuSable District of the Boy Scouts of America.

James Reynolds, Jr.

James Reynolds, Jr. is the chairman and CEO of Loop Capital Markets, a company that has grown under his leadership to become the largest minority-owned financial services firm in the country, as well as one of the nation’s leading privately-held investment banks. As a resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park, Reynolds consistently gives back to his community, participating on the boards of the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the Chicago History Museum, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Scholarship Chicago, the Chicago Urban League, Chicago United, and the University of Chicago Hospitals, among others. He believes that successful executives have a responsibility to their neighbors and their roots, and James Reynolds has honored this belief throughout his lifetime.

John W. Rogers, Jr.

Raised on Chicago’s South Side, John W. Rogers, Jr. became interested in investments at a very young age, when, for each of his birthdays, his father would buy him stocks instead of toys. Now, he is the chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments, a firm he founded in 1983 to focus on small, undervalued companies. A regular contributor to Forbes, Rogers’s success quickly brought him to the forefront of media attention, including features in USA Today and a variety of other broadcast and print publications. Beyond the business world, Rogers promotes education and cultural reform, serving as trustee of the University of Chicago and director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. In 2008, he received the Woodrow Wilson Award, Princeton University’s highest honor, given to those whose careers embody a commitment to national service.