On May 1, 2019, the stars came out once again in support of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. Serving as the launch of Foster Care Awareness Month (honored each May), as well as the #Voices4FosterCare campaign, Dining & Conversation offered the opportunity to dine alongside key supporters and friends in civics, business, entertainment, and more, gathered together in support of the children and families served by SOS Illinois.
VIP Reception with Luminaries, Chefs, and Sponsors
Prior to the start of the formal program, VIP guests – including 2019 Dining & Conversation Sponsor, Sodexo – gathered with Luminaries, Celebrity Chefs, and Chicago Mayor-Elect, Lori Lightfoot, to kick-off the evening’s events. A special welcome was provided by SOS Illinois Chief Executive Officer, Tim McCormick, and guests to the reception were invited to participate in photographs with the evening’s Luminaries.
Opening Remarks from Mayor-Elect Lightfoot, Sodexo, SOS Illinois Alumni, and SOS Illinois Board President
With Luminaries and guests gathered together at their tables on the Pritzker Stage in Millennium Park, Tim McCormick offered a brief welcome before inviting Chicago Mayor-Elect, Lori Lightfoot, to offer special remarks to those in attendance.
“The true character of society is defined by how we treat its children,” Lightfoot shared. “…The Foster Parents out there who open up their homes, who give love and support to children are truly part of an important ecosystem of care that we must have throughout our community. They truly are unsung heroes that deserve our support and our praise because of the tireless things they do every day…I want to make sure we call them out for the important work they do.”
Additional opening speakers included SOS Illinois Board President, Jim Wolfe; SOS Illinois Alumni, Tevin Marbeth; 2019 Dining & Conversation Sponsor Representative, Michael Landers (Vice President of Sodexo USA), and 2019 Dining & Conversation Emcee, Micah Materre (WGN TV news anchor). Each speaker offered a unique perspective on the importance of supporting the mission of SOS Illinois and participating in the #Voices4FosterCare campaign.
‘We were surrounded with the best love and support,” Marbeth said while speaking about the experience he and his siblings had while in the care of SOS Illinois. “Without [my Foster Parent’s] love, I would not have had the courage to purse my dreams.”
“We know that when we speak together as one. We as one can overcome any obstacle. We can create a better society,” remarked McCormick about the campaign. “Tonight, and together, our voices say we can do this.”
Artfully-Prepared Dishes and Warm Conversation
Following the speaking portion of the evening, guests dove into the heart of Dining & Conversation: The shared meal. During the fifteen course dinner, 140 supporters met and conversed with Luminaries, well-known celebrities from various professional fields. Luminaries included longtime SOS Illinois supporter and Academy Award winning actor, Christian Bale; Academy Award Winning director and screenwriter, Adam McKay; Best Selling author, Gillian Flynn; television and film actor, David Eigenberg; and many more.
The well-crafted meal, led by Chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno, consisted of courses prepared by Celebrity Chefs from Chicago’s most well-respected restaurants. Luminaries shared a course at each table, rotating throughout the evening, so as to dine and converse with all guests in attendance. As the event progressed, each guest had the opportunity to talk with all the Luminaries.
As the evening drew to a close, Luminaries, Chefs, and Sodexo were gifted with a soundwave keepsake, reminding our supporters of the impact their voices have on the lives of the children and family served at SOS Illinois.
Gratitude for Sodexo, Dining & Conversation 2019 Sponsor
The success of Dining & Conversation 2019 was only made possible due to the generous support and friendship of Sodexo. Sodexo, a worldwide leading provider of integrated food, facilities management, and other services that enhance organizational performance and improve quality of life, centers its mission on corporate responsibility and sustainability.
“It’s my hope that tonight’s Dining & Conversation event inspires ideas and discussions around ways that we can make our city and state a better place for children and families,” Michael Landers shared during his opening addressing to the guests. “It is remarkable to know that SOS Children’s Villages Illinois celebrates a 100% high school graduation rate compared to a national average of only 50% of children in foster care.”
Landers also shared a special call-to-action for those in business and corporate settings: “In my opinion, we are at a very interesting crossroads here with corporations in the United States…Corporations that want to grow and continue to be successful, I believe have to find a way to further build a responsible world. Part of what they do to run a business has to be to contribute and make the experience better across society. I’m proud of the work at Sodexo; I’m proud at how we approach our work, and I’m proud for us to be aligned with SOS Children’s Villages Illinois.”
We are honored to welcome Sodexo into the SOS Illinois family and offer our warmest gratitude to Michael and the full Sodexo team. Their kindness and generosity is making a profound impact on the children and families we serve!
2019 Luminaries and Celebrity Chefs
We offer our sincerest gratitude for the time, energy, and talents of our Luminaries and Celebrity Chefs.
LUMINARIES: Christian Bale; Lou Canellis; David Eigenberg; Josh Earnest; Gillian Flynn; “Candid” Candace Jordan; Zach Filkins; Leslie Hindman; Adam McKay; Elayne Granger; Jamie Rhee; Scott Turow; Dr. Stuart Strahl; Anna Valencia, Jenny Wray.
CELEBRITY CHEFS: Lead Chef Tony Priolo; Chef Louie Alexakis; Chef John Coletta; Chef Federico Comacchio; Chef Graham Crowe (Mixologist); Chef Kevin Cuddihee; Chef Chris Gawronski; Chef Tom Van Lente; Chef Dan McGee; Chef Ryan Pitts; Nicole Raftery and Raki Mehra
A special note of acknowledgment to the evening’s emcee and longtime SOS Illinois supporter, Micah Materre. We also were fortunate to be joined by special guests Star Jones and Rashied Davis.
Post-Event Information and Media
We’re so thankful for all our friends and supporters who made Dining & Conversation 2019 an evening to remember. With your help, we are better able to lend our #Voices4FosterCare, furthering the important conversation on the ever-changing landscape of child welfare in Illinois and beyond. Let’s keep the conversation going!
For event photographs, post-event media inquiries, and more, visit dining.com/dining/get-involved.