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Meet Our 2024 Gala Co-Chairs

The 9th Annual Cara Gala presented by The Gidwitz Family returns on Friday, May 17. Our signature event, gathers more than 550 civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders in celebration of this work.

We are pleased to announce this year’s Gala Co-Chairs – dedicated members of our community who are passionate about the issues Cara Collective addresses, and who are deeply committed to building economic vibrancy in Chicago and beyond.

We are so grateful to have a dynamic group of Gala Co-Chairs this year, representing a multitude of industries and histories of involvement with our organization. Thank you to this amazing group of supporters! 

Jim & Sandy Reynolds

James Reynolds, Jr. is Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Loop Capital. Mr. Reynolds founded Loop Capital in 1997 with a simple motto as a guide: “To provide client service beyond expectations.”  The motto still serves as the foundational driving force of the firm. Mr. Reynolds currently oversees all aspects of Loop Capital, including investment banking, brokerage, project finance, financial advisory services and asset management.

A 30-year veteran of the financial services industry, Mr. Reynolds held senior-level positions at several global Wall Street firms prior to founding Loop Capital—then a municipal bond firm. Since, Loop Capital has grown into one of the most dynamic and diversified investment banking firms in the country, expanding into corporate finance, global equity trading, taxable fixed income trading, tax-exempt fixed income trading, mergers and acquisitions, public finance, infrastructure investment and financial consulting.

As Chairman and CEO, Mr. Reynolds spearheaded the accelerated growth and diversification of the firm, which is now one of the largest privately-held investment banks in the United States. Additionally, Loop Capital is partner in multiple business enterprises including, LoopWealth platform, Asset Management and JLC Infrastructure, an investor and asset management firm formed in 2015 with Magic Johnson Enterprises.

A passionate advocate of giving back to the community, Mr. Reynolds currently serves as a board member of the Chicago Community Trust, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Chicago Urban League, World Business Chicago and Intersect Illlinois.

Additionally, Mr. Reynolds serves as a Board Member of Kellogg Global Advisory Board, Hope Chicago Executive Leadership Advisory Board,, as well as a member of the CFA Institute.

Mr. Reynolds holds a Masters of Management in Finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.  He received his Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the AIMR in 1991 and holds 7, 24, 52, 53, 63 and 79 licenses.

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Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias & Josephine Giannoulias

Secretary Alexi Giannoulias was sworn into office as Illinois’ 38th Secretary of State in January, committing to restore trust in government, modernize services and strengthen state ethics.

On his first day in office, Secretary Giannoulias signed a wide-ranging Executive Ethics Order to improve transparency, enhance protections afforded to victims of sexual harassment or threats of violence, and simplify the public’s ability to submit complaints to the Inspector General’s office.

As State Librarian, Secretary Giannoulias is dedicated to fighting against book censorship in our libraries. Amid the surge of book bans nationwide, Giannoulias introduced first-in-the-nation legislation, which was signed into law in June, designed to support public and school libraries by withholding state grants from libraries that remove books. He is a staunch supporter of librarians, who have found themselves on the frontlines of culture wars and have been targeted by extremist groups in Illinois.

Secretary Giannoulias also drafted legislation to narrow the digital divide by increasing access to ebooks and digital materials. His “License to Read” bill, which passed the General Assembly this spring, allows his office to negotiate with publishers on behalf of public libraries to enable them to acquire the licenses needed to allow more library users access to more e-books and audiobooks. He also secured a reoccurring $5 million appropriation in the state’s budget for annual technology grants that allow libraries to update and upgrade their equipment and services to provide the latest technology and better serve their users, regardless of where they live.

Secretary Giannoulias served as a member of the Chicago Public Library’s Board of Directors for five years and has seen first-hand how indispensable libraries are to communities. One of his priorities as State Librarian is improving the public’s access to the vital services libraries provide and ensuring libraries have the resources to continue providing the tools and knowledge that open doors for learning and opportunity.

In 2006, Giannoulias was elected Illinois State Treasurer, becoming the youngest State Treasurer in the nation at age 30. After leaving the Treasurer’s office in 2011, Giannoulias was appointed chairman of the Illinois Community College System. He also became senior director at BNY Mellon Wealth Management and taught at Northwestern University.

Secretary Giannoulias graduated cum laude from Boston University with a degree in economics and earned a law degree from Tulane University’s School of Law. He is a lifelong Chicagoan and still calls the city home along with his wife and their three daughters.

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Dr. Suzet McKinney

Dr. Suzet M. McKinney is a public health expert, medical executive, thought leader, strategic thinker and nationally recognized expert in emergency preparedness and response.

As Principal and Director of Life Sciences for Sterling Bay, Dr. McKinney oversees relationships with the scientific, academic, corporate, tech, and governmental sectors involved in the life sciences ecosystem. She also leads the strategy to expand Sterling Bay’s footprint in life sciences nationwide. 

Dr. McKinney previously served as CEO and Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District, where she managed a round-the-clock environment, including: 560 acres of medical research facilities, labs, a biotech business incubator, universities, raw land development areas, four hospitals and more than 40 healthcare-related facilities. Within two years of leadership, Dr. McKinney accomplished a financial turnaround of the IMD, successfully retiring more than $40 million in debt.

In 2020, Dr. McKinney was appointed by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker as Operations Lead for the State of Illinois’ Alternate Care Facilities, a network of alternate medical locations designed to decompress the hospital system during the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and multiple construction, architecture and project management teams to prepare five facilities to open for overflow patient care.

Dr. McKinney is also an experienced expert, frequently discussing healthcare disparities and racial inequities amplified by the pandemic, climate-related emergencies, biological and chemical threats and natural disasters. She’s been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC Nightly News, and in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Crain’s Chicago Business and The Chicago Tribune, among other notable publications.

Dr. McKinney serves on numerous boards and advisory committees. Her current board memberships include the Board of Directors for Wintrust Financial Corporation, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Thresholds, and the Advisory Board of the Executive’s Club of Chicago.

In academia, Dr. McKinney serves as an Instructor in the Division of Translational Policy and Leadership Development at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Health Policy Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. She is the co-author of the text: Public Health Emergency Preparedness: Practical Solutions for the Real World (2018) and was named Real Estate Journal’s Woman of the Year (2022), one of Chicago’s Top 50 Business Leaders of Color (2021), one of Chicago’s 50 Most Powerful Women (2020), and one of Chicago’s Notable Women in Healthcare (2018 & 2019).

Dr. McKinney holds her Doctorate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, with a focus on preparedness planning, leadership and workforce development. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) where she was also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow. She received her Master of Public Health degree (Health Care Administration) and certificates in Managed Care and Health Care Administration from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.

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Judge Charles Burns

Judge Charles Burns hears felony cases at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building at 26th and California. In addition, Judge Burns presides over the Cook County Rehabilitative Alternative Call (RAP) and Women’s Rehabilitative Alternative Call (WRAP). These nationally recognized drug treatment court programs provide treatment alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders whose addictions lead to criminal activities. The WRAP program had been designated as one of the ten mentor courts by the National Drug Court Institute (NCDI) and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), now known as All Rise. His court has received that designation three times, most recently in 2022. His court was chosen as a pilot partner with Sesame Street in the Communities, to educate and address the impact of addiction to children of parents suffering from a substance abuse disorder.

Judge Charles Burns was  honored in July 2023 with a prestigious induction into the  All Rise Stanley Goldstein Treatment Court Hall of Fame. The award is the most esteemed accolade presented by  the leading national organization for training, membership, and advocacy in treatment court. In December 2023, the National Judicial College named Judge Burns as one of the nation’s 60 Courageous Judges during their 60th Annual conference and celebration. The Chicago Inn of Courts, a highly respected federal and state legal organization, has bestowed on him their Donald Hubert Public Service Award in February 2021. The Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (IACDL) who bestowed their Promotion of Social Justice Award to him in 2016. He also received a Distinguished Service Award from Friends of Recovery, a nonprofit recovery support network in 2021.

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For tickets, sponsorships, or to hear more about the event, head to The 9th Annual Cara Gala for more information.