The 2023 awardees include Chicago residents and organizations dedicated to equity, public safety, mental healthcare, and more
Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced the winners of the 2023 Mayor’s Medal of Honor. The Mayor’s Medal of Honor, launched in 2021, is an annual award presented by the Mayor to remarkable individuals, organizations, and collaboratives demonstrating extraordinary leadership, a passion for advancing equity across the City, and a commitment to improving the lives of all residents in Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. This year’s event is hosted in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).
“We started this award in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and since then, Chicago residents and organizations have not wavered in connecting neighbors to resources and reimagining how we support one another in the face of new challenges,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “From investing in historically disinvested neighborhoods to championing services for mental health and new migrants, these awardees are putting Chicago on a successful path forward. Now, more than ever, we need leaders and institutions who understand there is more work ahead of us, but are committed to making our City a prosperous place for all.”
This year’s Mayor’s Medal of Honor awardees are:
- Serhiy Koledov, Ukraine Consulate General — Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Consulate General Serhiy has worked tirelessly to support Ukrainians living in Chicago and beyond as their country fights back against Russia.
- Maria Pike, Board Member of Chicago Survivors — After the unspeakable loss of her son, Maria turned her pain into purpose by advocating at the local and national levels for gun control policies that prevent deadly gun violence. Her advocacy and leadership led to the enactment of the Illinois assault weapons ban this year.
- Leon Walker, Managing Partner at DL3 Realty, L.P. — As a co-founder of the Chicago Emerging Minority Developer Initiative (CEMDI), Leon has played a key role in increasing the number of Black and minority developers in Chicago and bringing them together to target new construction opportunities in historically disinvested neighborhoods.
- Claire Rice, Executive Director of the Arts Alliance Illinois — Claire has been a tireless advocate for the arts sector and Chicago artists, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Her work was instrumental in securing a transformational and historic $50M grant to help creative businesses, nonprofit organizations, and artists replace lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Scott Weiner, co-owner of Fifty/50 Restaurant Group — When migrants began arriving in Chicago in September 2022, Scott contacted the Illinois Restaurant Association and the Mayor’s Office to help. Not only did Scott and his team work to feed and employ hundreds of new arrivals, but they also mobilized the city’s restaurant community to provide critical support at a difficult time for Chicago’s new arrivals.
- Sarah Pang and Lynn Lockwood, President and Vice President at One Chicago Fund — Sarah and Lynn have served Chicago in various capacities throughout the course of their careers. In the past four years, they have forged public and private partnerships to help raise funds and provide critical support for various projects, including My CHI. My Future., COVID-19 relief, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
- Laurence Msall, President of the Civic Federation (Posthumously) — Laurence, who passed away in February 2023, served as the President of the Civic Federation for two decades. Laurence cared deeply about Chicago and dedicated his career to advocating for fiscal responsibility and good governance.
- Lin Brehmer, radio host at WXRT (Posthumously) — Lin, who passed away in January 2023, was a legendary Chicago radio host at WXRT. He joined WXRT in 1984 as Music Director and, in 1991, became a fixture on air, sharing his love for music and all things Chicago.
ORGANIZATIONS & COLLABORATIVES
- INVEST South/West — INVEST South/West is an unprecedented revitalization strategy designed to transform communities led by Mayor Lightfoot’s Business Economic and Neighborhood Development team, Department of Planning, Department of Housing, Chicago Department of Transportation, and World Business Chicago. INVEST South/West completed 2022 with $2.2B in public and private investment commitments within 10 South and West Side community areas.
- Chicago Police Vehicular Hijacking Task Force — The Chicago Police Vehicular Hijacking Task Force brought together the Chicago Police Department, Cook County Sheriffs, Illinois State Police, and federal law enforcement professionals to address and reduce carjacking cases in the city holistically.
- Behavioral Health Team at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) — CDPH’s Behavioral Health Team developed and grew mental health resources to all 77 neighborhoods across the city, expanding the number of residents served from approximately 3,600 in 2019 to nearly 74,000 residents in 2022. The team also worked to expand services for children and adolescents for the first time and last year served 14,000 young people.
- Homeless Services Division at Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) — DFSS’s Homeless Services Division worked around the clock to identify and secure temporary housing for new migrant arrivals. Since September 2022, they have provided resources to 2,600+ people.
- Chicago Abortion Fund and Planned Parenthood of Illinois — Both organizations stepped up to expand reproductive healthcare in Chicago following the leaked Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health. The City’s Justice for All initiative is led by the Chicago Abortion Fund and Planned Parenthood of Illinois, who support transportation; lodging; and safe reproductive, obstetric, and gynecological care.
- Apna Ghar — Apna Ghar serves predominantly AAPI immigrant survivors of gender-based violence. Apna Ghar has played an active role in supporting Mayor Lightfoot’s Gender-Based Violence work to offer safe, trusted, and culturally competent services for residents.
Together, and each in their own way, these honorees truly embody the principle of leading by example and center equity as the guiding value of their work. The Mayor, along with the entire City of Chicago, is deeply grateful and humbled to recognize and celebrate thoughtful, selfless, and civically engaged partners who are creating change and bettering the City and looks forward to the continuance of their outstanding service for years to come. The 2023 winners will be honored at a special ceremony that will be live-streamed on April 25.