Announcing the 2017 Award Recipients

June 14, 2017

Together with the 2017 Awards Co-Chairs Elizabeth von Peterffy and Dr. Barbara Bowman,
we are thrilled to announce the 2017 Awards honorees!

Congratulations to:

Thomas Hale 
2017 Champion for Children Award

Dr. Linda Gilkerson
2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

Anthony Clark
2017 Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award

Save the Date

This years honorees will be recognized on Tuesday, September 12 during the 2017 Awards presentation at the University Club of Chicago. This celebration is free to attend, however, advanced registration is required. Fore more information and to register, please visit

Introducing the 2017 Awards Honorees:

Thomas Hale - 2017 Champion for Children Award

Thomas Hale “had a vision, a dream, to change the world for the better and he set about doing just that in Englewood,” according to longtime friend and fellow advocate for children Elizabeth von Peterffy. 

Mr. Hale's is the President of the Board of The Montessori Network and The Montessori School of Englewood, however, his leadership as a community advocate goes far beyond these roles. Thomas Hale is helping to change a community struggling against dramatic segregation, institutional racism and defunding of social services by establishing a safe, secure, supportive, healing and enriching environment at the Montessori School of Englewood. 

Mr. Hale has championed the emotional, personal and academic success of hundreds of Chicago children through his commitment to bringing quality education opportunities to Englewood. Through a culturally responsive curriculum with social and emotional programs that focus on not just the students, but also their families and community, Mr. Hale and his team at the Montessori School of Englewood have cultivated students' academic growth, sparked their curiosity, and provided a foundation on which to heal.

Mr. Hale is a model for others who want to take action and do something that will have a lasting benefit in the lives of low-income children, especially those most severely impacted by community violence and we honored to present him with the 2017 Champion for Children Award.

Dr. Linda Gilkerson - 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

Linda Gilkerson, Ph.D., is the director of the Irving B. Harris Infant Studies Program at Erikson Institue and the founder and executive director of its Fussy Baby Network. 

Dr. Gilkerson specializes in creating programs to support parents and their infants. She works with state agencies and national organizations such as Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families to address the needs of infants and families. 

Dr. Gilkerson is a leader in Early Intervention and her research addresses the needs of infants and families in a range of settings including neonatal intensive care units, Early Head Start and childcare. She has made pioneering contributions in promoting a focus on social-emotional developmental and reflective supervision within both the health and early intervention systems. 

In addition to her roles at Erikson Institute, Dr. Gilkerson also served on the Illinois Interagency Council for Early Intervention and has chaired the Early Care and Education Committee of the Futures for Kids Initiative. A board member of Zero to Three, she also chairs their Infant Mental Health Task Force. Dr. Gilkerson has demonstrated true leadership and vision for the child serving community and we are thrilled to honor her with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Anthony Clark - 2017 Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award

Anthony Clark truly embodies his mantra, "More love, less hate.”

Mr. Clark is a military veteran who, after serving 6 years of active duty in the US Air Force, entered into the teaching profession in 2009 to work with children with special needs.

He is currently a special education teacher at Oak Park River Forest High School. Anthony is also the founder and Executive Director of Suburban Unity Alliance (SUA), a nonprofit based in Oak Park, IL. SUA aims to bring people of all backgrounds together to address inequity in schools and within the greater community.

Anthony has dedicated his life to addressing equity issues and believes we must advocate for and create opportunities for children. Through his work, Mr. Clark is working to close gaps and create levels of support that allow children of any background to compete and aim for success.

With his $5000 honorarium, Mr. Clark will particiapte in several restorative justice professional development trainings that would teach him the additional skills necessary to remain at the forefront of student engagement and support.

The Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award is given in memory of Ed Marciniak who served on the Board of Bright Promises Foundation, formerly known as the Illinois Humane Society, from 1955 until his death in 2004. Marciniak also served as president of the Institute of Urban Life at Loyola University from 1973 until 2004. He advised scores of community agencies and schools and founded many organizations linking faith and work, including the Chicago chapter of The Catholic Worker and the National Center for the Laity. He was best known for founding the Catholic Labor Alliance in 1943 and publishing its hard-hitting newspaper titled Work. The Bright Promises Foundation Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award focuses on former Board President Ed Marciniak’s interest in reaching out to individuals early in their career and encouraging them to stay involved in the lives of children.