A two-night virtual event celebrating innovation and
dedication to serving Chicago children and youth.

Tuesday, September 15, 6:00-6:30pm
Wednesday, September 16, 6:00-6:45pm


Bright Promises 2020 Awards

A FREE two-night virtual event celebrating innovation and dedication to serving Chicago children and youth.

Tuesday, September 15, 6:00-6:30pm 
Featuring the virtual presentation of the 2020 Awards, with special remarks by 2020 award recipients Debbie Frisch, foster mother and Founder of HelloBaby; Nancy Aardema, community organizer and outgoing Executive Director of Logan Square Neighborhood Association; and Jahmal Cole, activist and Founder/CEO of My Block, My Hood, My City.

‍‍Wednesday, September 16, 6:00-6:45pm
Featuring an expert panel discussion with Norman Livingston Kerr, Director of Violence Reduction for the City of Chicago, Amanda Walsh, Director of Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, and Dr. Liza Suarez, Co-Director of the Urban Youth Trauma Center, moderated by Ed Davies, Director of The Power of Fathers and Chair of the Bright Promises Program and Advocacy Committee.

Support at-risk Chicago children and youth with a gift.

100% of your donation supports low-income children and their families, helping to address their evolving needs during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and expand support for children’s mental health as violence in our neighborhoods continues to rise this summer and children prepare to return to school this fall.

DonateDownload the 2020 Awards Program

About the Honorees

Debbie Frisch

2020 Champion for Children Award

Debbie Frisch has served under-resourced families with young children for 20+ years as a nonprofit volunteer and as foster mother to 56 children. In 2017 she founded HelloBaby, the first fee-free drop-in play space for ages birth to 3 years and their caregivers. HelloBaby is a change agent in the Woodlawn community, providing a welcoming, safe space that promotes development of social, emotional, language, math and motor skills. 

Nancy Aardema

2020 Lifetime Achievement Award

With over 35 years experience as a community organizer, Nancy Aardema is widely recognized as an expert in the field. Nancy recently retired after serving for 33 years as the Executive Director of Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), building the community school movement, reshaping education organizing, and creating mutual support networks for thousands of families.

Jahmal Cole, 2020 Elevating Youth Voices Award

Jahmal Cole is a champion of social justice. As the founder and CEO of My Block My Hood My City, Jahmal is the creator of an exposure-based education program for underprivileged youth and a network of volunteer initiatives that serve Chicago communities year-round. Cole is also the author of The Torch of Decency: Rekindling the Spirit of Community Organizations, Exposure Is Key: Solving Violence By Exposing Teens to Opportunities, and It’s Not Regular.

Expert Panelists

On Night 2 of the 2020 Awards (Wednesday, September 16) a panel of experts will discuss children's mental health needs during the ongoing health crisis, current rise in community
violence, and return to school this fall. The panel will highlight resources and actions
adults can take to support children's mental health.

Norman Livingston Kerr

Director for the Office of Public Safety, Violence Prevention

Norman Livingston Kerr, MSW is the Director of Violence Prevention for the City of Chicago. Originally from Jamaica, Kerr is a Chicago Public Schools graduate who grew up on Chicagos’ Rogers Park neighborhood. Kerr spent 14 years working with Cure Violence, the group formerly known as CeaseFire, where he helped develop an internationally lauded gang-outreach model. More recently Kerr spent seven years as Vice President of Violence Prevention Services for UCAN, a West Side nonprofit agency, where Kerr led the organization’s community violence intervention efforts. While at UCAN, Kerr served as a key partner in Bright Promises Foundation’s childhood trauma initiative, which ran from 2012-2017. Kerr holds a Masters of Social Work from the University of Chicago.

Amanda Walsh

Director of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership

Amanda M. Walsh, JD, LLM, MSW, is the Director of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, the only statewide, public/private partnership of policymakers and advocates in Illinois committed to improving the scope, quality, and access of mental health programs, services, and supports for youth and their families. ICMHP is currently housed at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Previously, Walsh served as an attorney for the Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children where she established Illinois’ first pediatric behavioral health medical-legal partnership, designed to improve behavioral health outcomes and address the social determinants of health for children and families living in poverty. Ms. Walsh received both her law degree and Masters in Law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She also has a Master of Social Work from Loyola University’s School of Social Work.

Liza Suarez

Co-Director of the Urban Youth Trauma Center

Liza Suarez, Ph.D., is the co-director of the Urban Youth Trauma Center (UYTC), a Treatment Service Adaptation Center within the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. UYTC aims to improve the lives of youth and families affected by community violence who are experiencing traumatic stress and co-occurring conditions, including substance abuse and disruptive behavior problems. Dr. Suarez is adapting and evaluating an integrated intervention targeting traumatic stress and substance abuse problems in adolescents. At University of Illinois Chicago, Dr. Suarez develops research and treatment programs for urban children within the Pediatric Stress and Anxiety Disorders Clinic.


List in formation, as of September 3

Presenting Sponsors:

Elizabeth Louise Smith Fund

Advocate Sponsors:

Aaron and Helene Paris

Ally Sponsors:

Foster Walsh Family
Gaylord and William Gieseke
Margot and Tom Pritzker Family Foundation

Believer Sponsors:

Francis Beidler III and Prudence R. Beidler Family Foundation
Robert and Barbara Finley
Linda Gilkerson and Don Lamb
Sendhil Revuluri and Venu Gupta
Jay and Bari Rosenbloom

Dreamer Sponsors:
Marilyn Eisenberg
Jon N. Will & Mary Ada Gugenheim
Ron Manderschied
Nancy Nolden Snyder
Kim R. Van Horn

Design Sponsor

Sarah Stec

Sponsorship opportunities available from $500 - $10,000+. Download sponsor information here

If you have questions about sponsoring the 2020 Awards please contact Katherine Korey at katherine.dreher@brightpromises.org or at 312-550-2775.

Host Committee

2020 Awards Co-Chair:
Eddie Bocanegra, READI Chicago
Kim R. Van Horn, Angell Family Foundation

2020 Awards Host Committee:
Mark Bacharach
Paul and Peggy Bodine
Dr. Barbara Bowman, Erikson Institute
Vern Broders, Dream Source Solutions
Kathleen Cangemi, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
Evette Cardona, Polk Brothers Foundation
Juliet De Jesus Alejandre, Logan Square Neighborhood Association
Sarah Duncan, University of Chicago Network for College Success
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Finley
Sunny Fischer
Dr. Linda Gilkerson, Erikson Institute
Phyllis Glink, Irving Harris Foundation
Thom Hale, Hale Technologies
Francia Harrington, The Margot and Tom Pritzker Family Foundation
Alex Kotlowitz, Author
Ron Manderschied, Northwestern Settlement 
Woody McCally, Finnegan Family Foundation
Mark McKinley, William Blair
Rodger Owen, BGDC Custom Homes
Helene and Aaron Paris
Gigi Pritzker Pucker, Michael Pucker, and family
Margot Pritzker
Allison Youngblood, ASY Enterprises

Contact us

For more information, please contact Katherine Dreher Korey at katherine.dreher@brightpromises.org or 312-550-2775.