Announcing the 2018 Awards Honorees

June 28, 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 Awards Honorees

Each year, Bright Promises Foundation presents awards to individuals in our communities who deeply embody our mission to create opportunities for every child to thrive.

The 2018 Awards will be presented on Tuesday, September 25, at the University Club of Chicago. This event is free to attend; for more information, visit

Doug Mabie—2018 Champion for Children

Doug Mabie is the Founder, Past President and current Director of Springboard Foundation, which was formed 21 years ago. Today the Springboard Foundation has supported 220 educational programs serving tens of thousands if inner-city children with $6 million in grants. Doug Mabie is also the Managing Director of Private Wealth Management at Baird and serves on the Board of Trustees for Denison University in Granville, Ohio and as a Director for the WGA/Evans Scholars Foundation in Golf, Illinois.

Doug inspires with his kindness. According to Doug, one of the most important issues facing our city is the need to advocate and create opportunities for kids. “We need strong families, safe neighborhoods, good schools, jobs and professional opportunities for kids and young adults. If not our city will have no future.” 

What’s Doug’s advice for someone who is looking to get more involved in making a difference in the lives of children? “Do something that interests you, you can add value to, helps kids and ultimately aids and improves the overall community in Chicago. There are literally hundreds of ways to get involved in activities that help children.” 

Nancy B. Ronquillo – 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Nancy Ronquillo is the President and CEO of Children’s Home & Aid. She has worked to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized children and families for over 40 years. In her 17 years at Children’s Home and Aid, Nancy has implemented innovative programs and forged new partnerships to create bright futures for Chicago children and families. Nancy will be retiring from Children’s Home and Aid in June, 2019.

Nancy’s belief that child-serving organizations have done a disservice to fathers by not consistently involving them in the services for their children led to the creation of the four-agency Power of Fathers partnership in 2016. Nancy also serves as the Founding Board Chair of Children’s Home Society of America and Illinois Partners for Human Service, and as a Board member of the National Veterans Art Museum.

Why has Nancy dedicated her life and career to advocating for children? “Children hold within them enormous possibilities.  Because their spirits and their capabilities are emerging, we have a golden opportunity to nurture their potential and their dreams. Children have a very unique and in some ways uncluttered perspective on the truth.  Opportunities that invite the expression of each child’s wisdom will aid in making the best decisions.”

Marco Brion Dodd—2018 Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award

Marco is the Assistant Director of BGCC- Kidz Express.  He has been involved with Kidz Express since he was 10 years old. With the opportunity to go anywhere, Marco wanted to come back to the Austin neighborhood and help other students. “I see myself as a voice for the children,” Marco says. “My friends and I grew up in the same neighborhoods, went to the same schools, and dealt with the same issues of violence and lack of resources. I know what their going through and I know how to make it out. It seems more realistic to achieve when they hear it from me.”

Marco leads a cross-age peer-mentoring group that equips high school students to mentor and tutor elementary students, leading to improved social relationships and greater academic success for both age groups. Under Marco’s leadership, this program has expanded from serving 50 students to the ability to serve 200

What does Marco think sets the children of Chicago apart? “The children in Chicago are special because despite all of their struggles they do more with less. The opportunities are limited but many children are finding a way to survive and prosper in uncertain times. It’s up to the community/village to provide as much information and opportunities for young children to succeed. The more opportunities children have, the more chance they have at success.”

Marco will use the $5,000 honorarium that accompanies this award to continue his education career at Concordia University of Chicago, with the goal of continuing to better prepare himself for teaching and educating the youth of Chicago.

Maria Paula Gareza Degillo - 150th Anniversary Youth Engagement Award

Maria Degillo is the Coordinator for Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) and Youth Director of Communities United. She is an amazing example of someone who has used the power of her own lived experience to create positive change for other young people.

After being "counseled out" of her high school, Maria began volunteering with Communities United. She became one of the founders of Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) and served in VOYCE's initial cohort of youth researchers who examined the root causes for school dropout. VOYCE has become the leading organization in efforts to reform school discipline in Illinois, spearheading transformation of the Chicago Public Schools Code of Conduct and adoption of the nation's most comprehensive school discipline reform law.

What is one thing that Maria would change about Chicago to benefit children? “I would make sure that we stop separating families. This means changing the prison system that has been separating families for generations, pushing for fair comprehensive immigration reform so that families will not be separated, and creating affordable and equitable housing so that families can afford to stay together.”

About the Awards

The Champion for Children Award recognizes an individual, family or business that has shown exceptional dedication as a civic or community leader in their support for at-risk children and whose commitment and belief in building a better future for Chicago kids is exemplary. Past honorees include philanthropist Gigi Pritzker and advocate Thomas Hale.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the welfare of children and to programs benefiting disadvantaged children during his or her lifetime in a professional capacity. Eligible nominees must have a minimum of 10 years professional experience in children's services. Past honorees include actisist Dr. Barbara Bowman, scholar Bernice Weissbourd and educator Dr. Linda Gilkerson.

The Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award is given to an individual with less than 10 years of professional experience in children's services who shows great motivation, enthusiasm and promise in their work with disadvantaged children in Illinois. The Bright Star Award is accompanied by an honorarium of $5,000. Past honorees include community organizer Mariame Kaba, educator Scheherazade Tillet, and local activist Eduardo Bocanegra.

This 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.

The 150th Anniversary Youth Engagement Award is a special award given in celebration of Bright Promises Foundation's 150th Anniversary and recognizing excellence in the field of youth engagement. This award is accompanied by a $1,500 grant to the recipients organization.