At their 99th September Gala, the Children’s Home & Aid Woman’s Board presented John and Fran Edwardson with the 2019 Pauline K. Palmer Award. The award is bestowed on outstanding members of the community who advocate for and are active volunteers on behalf of children. The Edwardsons’ professional and volunteer work has had a significant impact on children across Chicagoland.
John is the retired Chairman & CEO of CDW and former President & COO of United Airlines. Fran served as CEO for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago from 2005-2016. The Edwardsons support many community efforts, including; Children’s Home & Aid, Advance Illinois, Habitat for Humanity, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Rush University Medical Center and Lincoln Park Zoo. The Pauline K. Palmer Award is the highest award given by the board and is named after the group’s first president and the daughter-in-law of famous Chicago matriarch Bertha Palmer.
“John and Fran Edwardson are exemplary examples of civic-minded compassion. Their generous support of Children’s Home & Aid and other organizations has provided critical services to children and families. Their lifelong commitment to philanthropy is making a difference throughout the city and across the world,” said Michael J. Shaver, president & CEO of Children’s Home & Aid.
The black tie fundraiser, co-chaired by Erin Quinn and Shawna Radzik, took place at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. The September Gala’s hosts included Abbott, Anonymous, Mr. and Mrs. John Edwardson, Mr. & Mrs. Cyrus F. Freidheim Family, ITW, Lisbeth Stiffel, and Mr. Paul Wood & the Honorable Corinne Wood. The sponsors were CDW, DHR International, McNamara Purcell Foundation, John and Alexandra Nichols, Northern Trust and Mrs. Barbara Speer. The gala featured emcee Andrea Thome and the music of the Stu Hirsh Orchestra.
The gala raised nearly $700,000 to benefit the Children’s Home & Aid’s Mitzi Freidheim Englewood Child & Family Center, the Marletta Darnall Schaumburg Child & Family Center, and the Jerri Hoffmann Child & Family Center in Carpentersville. These Children’s Home & Aid community child and family centers provide programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and Raising a Reader for children ages six weeks to six years. They also provide GED and parenting programs for families in the communities where they reside. In the last decade, the fundraising efforts of the Woman’s Board have gone to support early childhood education and raised nearly $7 million towards the cause.
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Defender.