Congratulations to our President & CEO Nancy Ronquillo, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bright Promises Foundation at the University Club of Chicago on September 25. Each year the Bright Promises Foundation recognizes Chicago leaders who have made outstanding contributions to the welfare of children with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nancy was recognized for her unparalleled dedication to improving the lives of children and families for over 40 years, including leading Children’s Home & Aid since 2001. In her 17 years at Children’s Home & Aid, Nancy has implemented innovative programs and forged new partnerships to create bright futures for children and families. We’re so proud to be led by Nancy and to see her recognized among our community’s top leaders who are doing incredible work to strengthen children and families.

Nancy wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony, so Charlie Gofen, the Chair of Children’s Home & Aid’s Board of Trustees, accepted the ward on her behalf. The following is a transcript of Charlie’s remarks.

On behalf of Nancy, thank you for this very prestigious honor. Nancy was disappointed that she was unable to be here tonight to accept the Bright Promises Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, because you are her people. You believe in giving kids a chance. This is a cause that Nancy has dedicated her professional life in service of.

Nancy has been a visionary leader in the human services field for more than four decades, working to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized children and families. She has led Children’s Home & Aid since 2001 and has driven the agency to implement innovative programs, embrace research-based practice, and forge essential partnerships to achieve the lofty mission of helping all children, youth, and families thrive in strong communities. She has also, throughout her career, championed advocacy efforts to promote policy change and has served on more boards and advocacy organizations than we have time to name.

Many of you have known Nancy for years. Gaylord Gieseke first encountered Nancy’s passion to make the world right for children and families 20 plus years ago at Voices for Illinois Children.  Nancy—at that time the CEO of a human services organization in Bloomington—knew that providing direct services alone would never be enough. To truly provide hope, opportunity, and bright futures for children and families, especially for those whose potential is at risk, Nancy knew that it takes advocacy and research and collaboration and partnerships. And most of all, it takes an unwavering belief that all children have potential that’s worthy of our investment.

Bright Promises embodies this belief.  By funding innovative programs that address emerging issues for children and youth whose potential is at risk, Bright Promises is creating positive lives and brighter futures for children and their families in Illinois.

Throughout the years, Bright Promises—through your focused funding and your EQUIP grants—has given more than $130,000 to Children’s Home & Aid. Your generous support has improved the quality of the early care and education that we provide to hundreds of families each year and has provided enriching after-school programming at under-resourced schools.

One of our senior executives at Children’s Home & Aid, Paula Corrigan-Halpern, tells a story that gives a sense of how Nancy lives the agency’s mission. Early in Nancy’s tenure as CEO at Children’s Home & Aid, she oversaw a rebranding effort for the agency. During the rebranding, the agency’s logo became a butterfly. The butterfly represents the saying, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.”

The saying resonates when you’re working with abused and neglected children. Our role—Nancy’s role—is to give children hope, help, and opportunity just when they think those are the last things available to them. And all you need to know about Nancy is that every single day, she wears a butterfly pin. As Paula notes, Nancy literally wears the agency’s mission on her lapel.

On behalf of Nancy and Children’s Home & Aid, thank you to the Bright Promises Foundation for recognizing Nancy Ronquillo for a lifetime of service and excellence.