Big names raise record $14.1M for Big Shoulders
May 27th, 2018
Big Shoulders Fund raised $14.1 million at its charity gala last week. The whopping number breaks its own record–and very likely the record for any charity in the city.
It’s a credit to honorees Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey, who live in Naples, Fla., and have a home in Chicago, and to Monsignor Ken Velo. He’s a longtime advocate of Big Shoulders.
The event began with an announcement that $13.1 million had been raised, then came word of an anonymous donor giving $1 million in honor of Velo and the crowd went wild.
Simpson is the investment genius who worked for multi-billionaire Warren Buffett.
Simpson shared how he was introduced to Big Shoulders. It was over lunch with civic leaders John Croghan, John Canning and James O’Connor and Big Shoulders CEO Josh Hale. “If you get taken to lunch by those four, get ready to hold out your wallet,” Simpson said.
He saw Big Shoulders, which helps fund Catholic schools and programming, as a sound investment. But it was Querrey who made the final decision to support the nonprofit. And her reason was personal.
“I grew up in a poor family in rural West Virginia. I was raised with my mom and my grandmother, a tough and extraordinary woman with an 8th-grade education who cleaned houses to support her family,” Querrey said to the packed ballroom at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue. “From the time I was little, she read to me and she encouraged me in school. She raised me to be confident. She set the bar high. She made me understand that doing well in school was key to doing well in life. Though we didn’t have a lot of material things, she taught me that knowledge is one thing that can never be taken away.”
Querrey, who earned an athletic scholarship to play college basketball, now heads SQ Advisors financial firm. And she said she can relate to children from struggling families who benefit from Big Shoulders’ support of Catholic schools.
“I see in these young people the kid that I was back then. These kids have limited resources. many are being raised by single parents or by grandparents or other relatives. Like my grandmother, their parents or guardians understand that education is an essential tool in life.”
Querrey’s comments prompted big applause, but she brought the house down when she made this observation: “Big Shoulders is one of the best-run nonprofits in the country.”
Here’s a fraction of the high-profile attendees: fund manager and philanthropist Richard Driehaus; real-estate developer Albert Friedman; Motorola CEO Greg Brown and his wife, Anna; Corporate Cleaning CEO Neal Zucker and Terminal Getaway Spa CEO Marko Iglendza; Keystone Capital founder Kent Dauten and his wife, Liz; Ariel Investments Vice Chairman Charlie Bobrinskoy; CIBC Group Head Larry Richman; businessman Bill Daley; White Lodging CEO Bruce White and his wife, Beth; tech entrepreneur Mark Tebbe and his wife, Magellan Development Group Chief Marketing Officer Robin Loewenberg; Walgreen government relations exec Donovan Pepper; Chicago Ventures partner Kevin Willer; business consultant Michael Gallo; J.P. Morgan financial adviser Michael Cooney; Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer; mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot; and Elizabeth Cole, a former teacher who gave a hat-tip to her first boss, Pat Murphy, the principal at St. Benedict the African High School in Englewood. She was among the principals invited to attend the event. Cole’s father is a co-founder of Big Shoulders.