2016 Carl Sandburg Award Dinner Raises a Record-Breaking $1.8 Million for the Chicago Public Library Foundation

Categories: Carl Sandburg Literary Award, Events

The Chicago Public Library Foundation and Chicago Public Library’s 2016 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards dinner was an unprecedented success, bringing together 750 corporate and civic leaders to raise nearly $1.8 million for learning initiatives at the Library.

75 guest authors cheer on the Cubs at Sandburg Dinner
75 guest authors cheer on the Cubs at Sandburg Dinner

The Sandburg Award was presented to best-selling authors Erik Larson (Devil in the White City, Dead Wake) for non-fiction and Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof)
for fiction.

Amina Gautier receives 21st Century Award
Amina Gautier receives 21st Century Award

The 21st Century Award, presented to a Chicago-based emerging author, was presented to short story writer Amina Gautier (At Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, The Loss of All Lost Things.) who gave a moving tribute to the transformative role that libraries have played in her life. Bill Kurtis served as emcee; NPR host and author Scott Simon moderated a stimulating conversation with Larson and Turow.

View the official photos from the 2016 Sandburg Dinner.

The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner raises funds to support the learning initiatives of Chicago Public Library including the Summer Learning Challenge, One Book, One Chicago, YOUmedia, Teacher in the Library and CyberNavigators. Foundation is led by Board Chair Bob Wislow of CBRE Chicago and Library Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin.

One of the highlights of the annual benefit is that each guest has the opportunity to engage in dinner table conversation with an esteemed author with ties to Chicago. This year, guests were seated amidst notable authors including five past recipients of the 21st Century Award: Blue Balliett, Elizabeth Crane, Eric Charles May, Nami Mun, Theresa Schwegel and Christine Sneed. Additional authors include:

  • Novelist and Radio Host LaShonda Katrice Barnett, author of Jam on the Vine
  • Former Chicago Bear and leadership expert Desmond Clark
  • Best-selling author and Chicago Public School teacher-librarian Esme Raji Codell
  • Plantsman Roy Diblik
  • Fiction writer and poet Stuart Dybek and his son, novelist Nick Dybek
  • Barbeque chef Meathead Goldwyn
  • Urbanologist Max Grinnell
  • Fitness consultant (with clients including Michael Jordan) Tim Grover
  • Crime novelist Michael Harvey
  • Maudlyne Iherjirka, Award-winning Sun-Times Journalist and co-author of Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War
  • Angelina Iherjirka, author of Escape from Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War
  • Grammy Award-winning poet, spoken word artist, recording artist and author J. Ivy
  • Humorist and political pundit Scott Jacobs
  • Journalist Bill Kurtis
  • Activist Courtney Lance
  • Kelly Leonard, author of Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City
  • Jeremy McCarter, author with Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton-The Revolution”
  • Nature photographer Mike MacDonald
  • Ethan Michaeli, author of a new book on the newspaper The Chicago Defender
  • Diana Mendley Rauner, the First Lady of Illinois, and youth development expert
  • Poet Srikanth Reddy
  • Architect John Ronan
  • Maureen Schulman, author of the Eli’s Cheesecake Cookbook
  • National Public Radio anchor and bestselling author Scott Simon
  • Blue Man Group founder Phil Stanton
  • Poet Angela Narciso Torres

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our community. The funds raised at this dinner will support a wide array of the most innovative and life-changing programming offered at any library in the world,” said Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin. “We are also grateful to the many authors who make our event so special.”

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The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner is the major fundraising event for the Chicago Public Library Foundation and Chicago Public Library. The event is produced by Foundation Director Donna La Pietra and co-chaired by Chicago Public Library Foundation Board Members David Casper, President & CEO of BMO Harris Bank and Wendy Berger, CEO of WBS Equities. The evening culminated in an intimate onstage conversation with the two Sandburg Award-honorees moderated by author and National Public Radio host Scott Simon.

“Few authors are as adept at mesmerizing readers as Erik Larson and Scott Turow,” remarked Casper. “Erik Larson has a singular talent for recounting history in a way that makes book lovers feel as though they are reading a riveting thriller. Scott Turow, while best known for his compelling legal page-turners, has also written insightful autobiographical works. We are proud to honor these two literary masters.”

“Amina Gautier’s stories are quiet and emotionally stirring jewels portraying urban poverty in a way that always leaves her readers with new insights,” added Berger. “Her body of work is already impressive, and I believe that in the future, her stories will come to be seen as a lasting portrait of our most challenged communities at this time.”

BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2016 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner. Lead sponsors include Rolex, Advanced Resources and the Zell Family.

View the official photos from the 2016 Sandburg Dinner.