Announcing the 2022 Awards Honorees

September 13, 2022

Congratulations to the Bright Promises 2022 Awards Honorees

Each year, Bright Promises Foundation presents awards to individuals who deeply embody our mission to create opportunities for every young person to live a better life and have a brighter future.

This year, we are thrilled to recognize three outstanding leaders of the child-serving community whose commitment to and belief in building a better Chicago for our children and youth serves as an inspiration and model for us all.

Please join us in congratulating the 2022 Awards honorees:


About the 2022 Honorees

Champion for Children Award

The Champion for Children Award recognizes a civic or community leader who has shown exceptional dedication to helping at-risk children and youth in Metropolitan Chicago.

Andrea Palmer

Andrea has dedicated her professional career in service of children. Through her more than thirty years in public health, Andrea has a wealth of expertise in the development, implementation and administration of systems, services and supports for families at risk for poor health, educational and economic outcomes.

As a member of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative team, Andrea leads the Foundation’s strategy to address the needs of expectant mothers and newborns with the goal of reducing the number of pre-term births and the evident racial disparities that exist in birth outcomes.

Before joining the foundation early in 2019, Andrea served as Chief of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Division of Maternal, Child and Family Health Services, where she oversaw the State’s Infant Mortality Reduction initiatives, Regional Perinatal Health services, School-Based Health Centers and adolescent health programs.  She was also the Director of Illinois’ Maternal and Child Health Services, overseeing the state’s Title V Block Grant, facilitating the ongoing assessment of the State’s maternal and child health needs and the establishment of statewide priorities and objectives. During her tenure with the State, she also managed the Teen Parent Services, Healthy Families and Parents Too Soon programs, and played an integral role in the development and implementation of Illinois’ Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation program(MIECHV).  Andrea also serves as a National Advisory Committee member for the March of Dimes– Mom and Baby Action Network.

Andrea is steadfast in her commitment to removing structural barriers and creating opportunities for children in Chicago and Illinois to thrive and have positive life outcomes. When asked what motivates her to be an advocate for children, Andrea shared, "I believe in the life-course theory and that the experiences and circumstances within which children are born and grow can impact not only their own lives but those of their children.  It’s important to identify and dismantle those systems and practices that jeopardize the outcomes of children and create the environment, institutionally, interpersonally and structurally, for children to thrive and grow."

"It’s important that EVERY family have the agency, opportunity, and access to the services, supports and resources they want and need to create the environment for their children to thrive." - Andrea Palmer, 2022 Champion for Children Award

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes outstanding contributions in a child-welfare profession.

Cathy Krieger

With nearly four decades of nonprofit experience, Cathy Krieger has dedicated her career to improving the lives of vulnerable children. She was the founding CEO of Children's Place Association, a creative nonprofit that pioneered comprehensive services for children with AIDS and then expanded its reach to help those struggling with other issues. Since opening 30 years ago it has provided life-changing services for thousands of Chicago area children. In 2021, Children’s Place launched Child Thrive, a new initiative in West Humboldt Park – a high-need area struggling with gun violence and the impact of structural racism. Child Thrive will expand resources in this underserved neighborhood, including access to primary care, mental health, youth mentoring and economic development in collaboration with partners Rush University Medical Center, JPA and West Humboldt Park Development Council.

Cathy Krieger is a visionary leader who combines intelligence, creativity and compassion to serve the most vulnerable…and achieve results. She is motivated by the conviction that all children, regardless of health or economic status, deserve the chance to lead their best lives. Her creative, client-focused vision has been the hallmark of Children’s Place since it opened in 1991. Under her leadership, the organization earned a reputation as one of the best managed, most mission-driven nonprofits in Chicago. 

Prior to joining Children’s Place, Krieger served as Director of Social Services for the Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic in Chicago. She has also worked as a social worker and counselor at Help, Inc., Juvenile Protective Association and the Salvation Army Tom Seay Center. Krieger is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work, cum laude, from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She also holds a Master's Degree in Theology, cum laude, from Trinity International University.

Upon her recent retirement, we asked Cathy to reflect on her decades of service to Chicago children and youth. "It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me to lead Children’s Place Association from its inception as an organization for children and families living with HIV/AIDS during the height of the epidemic to its current focus on working with communities battered by decades of disinvestment to create better environments and futures for children and families, Cathy shared. "Along the way, I witnessed the most amazing collaboration of individuals from every walk of life, income level, race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, focusing on a mission that seemed both impossible and absolutely essential--- helping kids in the very worst circumstances live full and worthwhile lives."

"Serving the most vulnerable children and youth now-- with the urgency their situations require—is the best opportunity for children and youth at risk to avoid the worst long-term effects of childhood trauma and to realize their potential in adulthood.  Developing and supporting programs that can tackle the very challenging situations that many children and youth encounter is one of the most important strategies available to us collectively as a society." - Cathy Krieger, 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award


Elevating Youth Voices Award

The Elevating Youth Voices Award recognizes an early to mid-career professional who is dedicated to empowering and amplifying the voices of Chicago youth leaders. The Elevating Youth Voices Award is accompanied by an honorarium of $5,000.

Devon VanHouten-Maldonado

Devon VanHouten-Maldanado is dedicated to empowering young people to use their voices through art. He serves as the Director of Programs at SkyART and teaches in the programs he directs. This experience allows him to guide the organization in being as responsive as they can to the needs of the communities they serve. Devon oversees three pillar programs: SkyWAY, a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) centered program for young artists ages 7-13, Project 3rd Space, SkyART’s immersive program for teens and young adults, and Project Impact, our free art therapy program. Devon also work directly with incarcerated youth as part of SkyART’s Just-Us program, which provides art therapy programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated young people. He is dedicated to giving youth a voice and reaching those who seem unreachable.

VanHouten-Maldanado has worked in incarcerated spaces for over 10 years. In October 2022, Devon will present a show on and about youth incarceration called "Can You See Me?". This show aims to elevate and legitimize the healing arts for a range of audiences, to position SkyART as leaders in juvenile justice arts programming, and to foster collaboration with other organizations doing work inside and outside the system. Devon’s goal is to humanize youth involved in the juvenile justice system, creating a fuller portrait of these youth.

When asked what inspires him to serve Chicago children and youth, Devon responded, "Chicago’s young people inspire and serve me just as much as I “serve” them! I am continually blown away by their collective creativity, resilience and passion, even in the face of generational trauma, historic inequity and systemic racism. As an artist by formation and training, young people inspire me to approach life and its challenges with the lens of a child, without the preconceived notions and biases of adulthood. In the same way, we can and should approach many of the challenges facing our society with the creativity and openness children possess naturally and, unfortunately, adults often lose as we grow up."

Serving children and youth means truly listening to them and elevating their voices, without assuming that we understand the challenges they are facing or the things they’re passionate about. -Devon VanHouten Maldonado, 2022 Elevating Youth Voices Award


2022 Awards Selection Committee

We offer our thanks to the 2022 Awards Selection Committee for their time and thoughtful participation in the selection of this year’s award recipients:

Baronica Roberson, Chief Financial Officer, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Edgar Ramirez, Executive Director, Chicago Commons

Sejal Shah-Meyers, Executive Director, Springboard Foundation

Sarah Ward, Executive Director, SkyART

Jon N. Will, Jon N. Will Associates

Nannette Velasquez Zander, Vice President, Azteca Foods Inc.


Register now for the Bright Promises 2022 Awards

REGISTER NOW - Join us as we celebrate this year’s honorees on Tuesday, October 25 from 6:00pm-9:00pm.

Join the celebration either in-person at The National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W 19th St, Chicago, IL 60608) or join virtually and enjoy a livestream of the speaking program and awards presentation.

The in-person event will feature a cocktail reception with open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres, opportunities to interact with local Chicago youth and youth organizations, and private gallery access to the popular Dia de Muertos exhibit.

Sponsorship opportunities available.