2019 Wesbury Award Recipients

The Wesbury Leadership Awards were established in 1991 to honor, Stuart A. Wesbury, a former Board Chair, health care professional and outstanding community leader who epitomized humanitarianism and partnership in his professional and volunteer life. This award was established to recognize those who enhance the visibility of the Red Cross by helping us deliver our services and messages of health, safety and preparedness. 

On June 27, 2019 the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois was proud to present this year’s awards to a group of outstanding partners and volunteers who have enhanced the visibility of the Red Cross and our lifesaving mission through dedication and diligence.

DISCOVER is a dedicated corporate partner and a recipient of a Wesbury Award this year for their philanthropic generosity to the Red Cross and our disaster mission.

  • DISCOVER’s support of the Red Cross includes for both Hurricane Michael and Florence this year, proactively activating card member and employee giving platforms to inspire $1.2M in support for disaster relief, which DISCOVER matched with a $1M gift.
  • In addition, for the first time in 2019, DISCOVER included the Red Cross in nation-wide “Together We’re Community” program incentivizing local banks to promote use of Discover Card by rewarding the bank with a $10,000 grant for their local Red Cross. 
  • DISCOVER also provided in-kind, national digital Public Service announcements to promote online giving to the Red Cross. 
  • DISCOVER’S philanthropic generosity enables the Red Cross to better prepare and respond to disasters around the country.

Matthew Towson, Director of Community Affairs for DISCOVER accepted the 2019 Corporate Wesbury Award, pictured below with Chicago & Northern Illinois Board Chair Ted Dysart.

The 2019 Media Partner Wesbury Award was presented to BETTER, led by Founder and President Susan Noyes for understanding that content sharing the Red Cross story and mission was important for their audience.

During the past year, Susan and BETTER took direct action to tell the catastrophic disaster story and to promote public contributions for Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief. 

A consortium of Chicago-area donors was formed by BETTER to offer a $90,000 matching gift challenge to anyone who donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  A couple of months later, another BETTER anonymous donor provided a $10,000 challenge grant to support relief operations for the devastating California Wildfires – again promoted through the BETTER digital platform. Both challenge grants were fully utilized, providing much needed support for people who lost everything.

Susan and her BETTER team accepted the 2019 Media Wesbury Award.

Dedicated board member Jay Bergman was also honored with a Wesbury Award.

Jay Bergman has graciously served three terms on the Greater Chicago regional Board of Directors; and his many achievements include several significant and unique contributions to the American Red Cross mission:

  • Jay and Lori Bergman stepped up at a very important time in our region history to fund the development of the Blood Facility at the Rauner Center.  This put us well ahead of the curve nationally in consolidating Humanitarian Services and Biomedical Services into one physical location and anticipated many of the important One Red Cross initiatives that are taking place today.
  • Not only did Jay and Lori’s vision and gift improve efficiency for blood collection and distribution, it also included to the creation of the First Secure Bank Blood Reference Laboratory, which serves an important function in research and making sophisticated blood matching possible to improve patient care.
  •  In addition, Jay, almost singlehandedly brought together his colleagues and network partners to stand up the inaugural Board of Directors for the new six county Illinois River Valley chapter. For the past three years, Jay has also led the new team and provided significant guidance and support for the Board as the chapter organization learned and grew. 

Jay accepted the Wesbury Award and is pictured below with board president Ted Dysart (left) and American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldan (right).

Five key volunteers were also honored with awards.

Paul Davidson — who goes above and beyond to extend the reach of the American Red Cross in his local community through his work with local community organizations including the Boy Scouts.

Paul’s focus has been on getting youth involved in the mission of the Red Cross through his local Boy Scout troop. Paul created a partnership between a youth volunteer conducting his Eagle Scout project and the Red Cross. The Eagle Scout planned and executed a smoke alarm installation event with a local Fire Department and the Red Cross, installing 65 smoke alarms in 27 homes. Since then, Paul has encouraged other boy scouts to become involved with the Red Cross, encouraging the set-up of a Red Cross Club and facilitating future Eagle Scout projects and building a team of Red Cross leaders!

Paul leads also our Disaster Services Technology team, hosting team meetings, encouraging and training new volunteers and developing leaders. He also is a Marathon team lead and led much of our recent Rockford flooding response.

Gerry Holmes has been a Red Cross volunteer for 11 years. He joined as a communications & public affairs volunteer after retiring from his long career as Director of Media relations at General Motors. 

Since that time, Gerry has deployed to 11 national disasters, has photographed many, many of our Red Cross events, written numerous stories and has singlehandedly managed the 24/7 Media public affairs phone line for years. Thanks to Gerry, the 24/7 ‘on-call’ media team keeps answering the media’s calls each week day or night. Gerry also is a dedicated blood donor and has donated an impressive 81 times – which equates to over 10 gallons!

Sherry Hoy heard about the Red Cross relief efforts during the catastrophic 2017 hurricane season and joined us as a leadership volunteer after a long corporate career. 

Since that time, Sherry has been using her strategic skills in change management and organizational effectiveness to provide significant consultancy and leadership on a variety of project across the region, including analysis of the staff Engage! Survey. 

She has been very involved in teaching Board, volunteer and staff trainings, including becoming an instructor for staff coursework and teaching about volunteer management and leadership at the Disaster Institutes.

Sherry is also a leadership volunteer on the Volunteer Relations team and key liaison with the board Mission Committee. Sherry’s sound advice is something the Leadership team at the Red Cross has come to rely on.

Janaiya Johnson is the Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Deloitte and she was an active supporter of our region’s vision to become a more inclusive region and volunteered to lead the Chicago & Northern IL Diversity survey.

Janaiya volunteered to provide essential oversite, guidance and leadership for our first ever staff survey focused on just Diversity & Inclusion.

She designed and collected the survey data and collaborated with a team of experts at Deloitte on the data analysis, including reporting on the emerging themes and recommendations. Janaiya presented the data and recommendations to the staff teams at meetings at the Rauner Center. She also facilitated the Q & A sessions that resulted.

Janaiya’s significant role in the survey and analysis was core to helping the region build diversity and inclusion priorities and goals for fiscal year 2020. Janaiya did all this work under some very tight deadlines and managed this in addition to the priorities of her day to day role at Deloitte.

Her colleague Tristan Slemmons, Corporate Citizenship Lead at Deloitte attended and accepted the Wesbury award on Janaiya’s behalf.

Jackie Speciale was awarded a Wesbury Award for her extensive efforts to expand the Red Cross’s reach especially in McHenry County.

By attending numerous partner meetings including those with emergency management in McHenry, Jackie has ensured our partners are aware of the scope of the Red Cross services.

Most recently, Jackie led the Red Cross response in serving the communities in Lake and McHenry counties, after two police officers were killed. Jackie organized Red Cross volunteers, built partnerships with over 20 local organizations, and worked tirelessly to serve hundreds of first responders who attended the services.

During these responses, Jackie built team capacity, as she always finds the opportunity to mentor and train new Red Cross volunteers alongside her.

Jackie is willing to jump into action whenever there is a disaster response. Last month, she was in Rockford for our flood response, where she oversaw our inventory and distribution of emergency supplies.

Jackie’s dedication, passion, and willingness to roll up her sleeves is contagious and has made a lasting impact on all.

We are so grateful to all of our partners, board members, donors and volunteers and could not continue the work of our mission with them. Thank you for what you do to support our humanitarian organization.

One response

  1. Pingback: Susan Noyes: Helping Hands in Action « Red Cross Stories

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