Saturday, September 20, 2014


Lisa Madigan Introductory Remarks 

Thank you for that introduction and for inviting me to join you for Imerman Angels’ Wings of Hope Gala.

Tonight, I have the pleasure of introducing the Wings of Hope Awardee – Howard Tullman.

And you couldn’t have picked a better person to honor.

Here’s why:

When Jonny Imerman, got cancer, at a much too young age, he wanted to meet someone who had survived his type of cancer. To talk with someone who had not only faced the same type of cancer, but beat it. To know that there is hope. Then Jonny wanted to give that vital support to everyone fighting cancer.

But we all know a lot of people in the world who have great ideas, but most of the time they remain just that – ideas.

Too few people turn their great ideas into reality.

But we are here tonight, because Jonny didn’t just beat cancer, he turned his idea into reality by creating Imerman Angels - to make sure that no one faces cancer alone.

And when I think about who in Chicago can turn ideas into reality, the first person that comes to my mind is Howard Tullman. That’s why I can’t think of a better person to honor with the Wings of Hope Award.

Howard is a visionary.

Over the years that I have known Howard, he has had at least 4 jobs. And really, it’s not even accurate to say he had jobs.

What Howard has are ideas - Big ideas! Ideas that help people. Ideas that help people realize their dreams. That’s what Howard does: He turns dreams into reality. Howard puts his heart and soul into bringing ideas to life.

Among my favorite ideas that Howard has brought to life:

The rebirth of Kendall College.

Howard became the president of Kendall College and within 9 months, he had developed a strategy to make it one of the top culinary and hospitality institutions in the country. He sold the college’s Evanston campus, raised $60 million and moved the campus to a state-of-the-art facility on Chicago’s Goose Island. It’s a stunning school producing terrific chefs.

Howard created Experiencia World.

It’s has a little city, called Exchange City, that has all the services a city needs:  a post office, a mayor’s office, a bank, an electric company, a hospital.

Elementary school kids come for the day and each gets to run something in the city. This elaborate mini city allows kids to see and understand and have responsibility for running everything to keep the city functioning. They learn how the real world works.

Then Howard started Flashpoint Academy.

He knew that kids interested in gaming and animation needed to get out of their parents’ basements and get an education with real experience. The first time I toured Flashpoint, I was awed by the technology.
The cameras, software and editing equipment at Flashpoint is sometimes so new it isn’t even on the market yet. So students are trained to use state of the art equipment in state-of-the-art studios and animation labs, and they have an edge in getting jobs.

And now, Howard is sharing his expertise as head of 1871. 

At 1871, Howard is helping people transform their ideas into start ups and creating a community where people help each other.

These examples demonstrate the core connection between Howard and Jonny:

They don’t just inspire people with brilliant ideas.

They don’t just talk about how nice it would be to help people:

They make them happen.

And as they move forward, they give back.

They make our world a better place.
I love and respect people like Howard and Jonny.

Take a look at this video to see Howard’s commitment and impact on Imerman Angels.

Howard Tullman Acceptance Remarks

I want to thank Jonny and everyone else at Imerman Angels for this great award and for all their amazing work and unstinting service in support of so many others.

I want to thank my dear friend Lisa Madigan for being here tonight and for her kind words. She continues to be my favorite oxymoron: a politician you can believe in.

I want to thank my co-chair Richard Price who instantly agreed to help and support me in this endeavor. He’s one of the city’s great professional and charitable leaders and an amazing cheerleader for everything that’s right in Chicago. 

And finally, I want to thank all of you for your generous support of this great cause and for honoring us with your presence tonight. Having so many friends here has made a special night even that much more spectacular. (A special shout-out to Joe Shanahan for being with us and for being a guy whose courage and grace has been a true inspiration. Joe was METRO before metrosexual was even a word.)

We all think we’re immortal until our own lives (or the lives of those we love dearly) are touched by sadness, loss, injury or disease and then we realize how fragile our lives really are; how precious our health is; and how fortunate we are to have our family and friends around us.

The very best we can do is to live our lives fully every day (no one does this better or more enthusiastically than Jonny) and also to resolve as well to help as many others along the way as we can.

My life has been blessed in too many ways to count, but we all have rough times as well when we need the strength and love of our families, and I know that I wouldn’t be standing here before you tonight without the constant love and support of my wife Judy for so many years and through every peak and every valley we’ve encountered together. I want to take a special moment to thank her and to share this honor with her.      

I tell the hundreds of eager entrepreneurs that I deal with every week at 1871 that no one today does anything by themselves and so I’m also extremely grateful that I have always been surrounded, enabled, inspired and empowered by the efforts, commitment and dedication of other special individuals whose actions, passions and examples have enriched my life as well.

But at the end of the day, it’s the unexpected and unrequested care and kindness of strangers who offer their support in our times of need that most surprises us and reminds us of the place and the importance that love and charity will always have in our lives.

The particular brilliance of Jonny’s idea – to organize and scale the power of one-to-one peer assistance – is that it turns the rewards of unselfish service to others from a conceptually nice and incidental thing to do into a visceral, concrete and continual connection between two people that can last a lifetime; enhance the lives of both individuals; and serve as a constant example for others that we each have the power and ability to help make our world a better place. In the Jewish tradition, we call this “tikkun olam” which means repairing the world. And that is what I believe that the Imerman Angels do every day.

This is why I have been a long-time supporter of IA and why I’m so honored and grateful that many of you here tonight have - on my behalf – joined with us to help move this great organization forward and to extend its reach and impact so that they can continue each day to make a difference in the lives of so many.

Thank you again. 

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