Learn More About the 2023 Library Foundation Awards!

Libraries are catalysts for communities. Activating minds. Persisting. Charging forward.
Libraries play a pivotal role in our community, society, and democracy – especially today.

This year, the Chicago Public Library Foundation Awards brings together two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, Chicago’s literary rising star Rebecca Makkai, globally renowned artist Richard Hunt, and civic leader Bob Wislow to celebrate the power of public libraries.

Hosted by legendary newscaster Bill Kurtis, the Library Foundation Awards will feature an engaging conversation between Whitehead and National Public Radio host Scott Simon. The dinner and Awards presentation will be filmed in front of a live audience on October 24 and released in a specially produced free public broadcast available to all on November 1.

Read on for more information on our honorees and how you can join the movement to support free lifelong learning at Chicago Public Library.

Meet the Honorees

Colson Whitehead

Carl Sandburg Literary Award

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead is best known for his novels The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad.

Rebecca Makkai

21st Century Award

A beloved rising literary star, Rebecca Makkai is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist for 2018’s The Great Believers.

Richard Hunt

Arts Award

World-renowned sculptor Richard Hunt has made the single largest contribution to public art in the United States.

Headshot of Bob Wislow
Bob Wislow

Civic Award

Bob Wislow is a civic leader and has helped to build the Chicago skyline, from Harold Washington Library to Millennium Park.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation Awards raise critical funds that empower Chicagoans year-round. Since 2000, there have been:


Years of Celebration


raised for Library programs


Library lovers who participated

Honorary Chairs

Mayor Brandon Johnson & First Lady Stacie Johnson
Governor JB Pritzker & First Lady MK Pritzker
Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias & Jo Terlato Giannoulias

Event Co-Chairs

Maggie R. Baczkowski
Wendy A. Berger
Graham C. Grady

Vice Chairs

  • The Block & Malkin Families
  • Leslie Bluhm
  • Kathleen M. Boege
  • Marcy & Greg Carlin
  • David R. Casper
  • Bob & Jane Clark
  • Michelle L. Collins
  • The Crown Family
  • Jacqueline Griesdorn & Kevin Matzke
  • Marc & Lisa Jones
  • Donna LaPietra & Bill Kurtis
  • Andrés Ordóñez
  • Jane S. Park
  • Pritzker Family
  • Michael J. Sacks
  • Susan & Robert A. Wislow
  • Suzanne Yoon & Luke Molloy
  • Helen Zell

*Vice Chairs as of 10/2/23.*

Event Producer

Donna LaPietra

Presenting Sponsor

Lead Sponsor

Grand Benefactor Sponsors

Benefactor Sponsors

Patron Sponsors

  • Bank of America
  • The Chicago Community Trust
  • Comcast
  • Mary A. Dempsey
  • Jenny Friedes & Stephen Florsheim
  • Bette Cerf Hill & Bruce Sagan
  • Denise & Adam Hoeflich
    Joan and William Brodsky
  • Rob Levin & Bonnie Fong
  • Illinois Tool Works, Inc.
  • Martha & Richard Melman
  • PNC Bank
  • Liz & Charlie Schrock
  • Taft Law
  • United Airlines

Premier Individual Supporters

  • J.R. & Katie Berger
  • Brenda Langstraat Bui & Ve Bui
  • Deloitte
  • Elissa Hamid Efroymson & Adnaan Hamid
  • Koch Family Foundation
  • Carol & Larry Levy
  • Amanda Morris
  • Sheila A. Owens
  • Carole & Gordon Segal and Segal Family Foundation
  • Robin Loewenberg Tebbe & Mark Tebbe
  • Jayne Thompson

Individual Supporters

  • Mr. & Mrs. Noman Bobins, The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation
  • Paul Dykstra & Spark Cremin
  • Marshall Field V
  • Eve Moran

Special Thanks

Donate to the Library Foundation

Contributions at every level support lifelong learning programs for all at Chicago Public Library.