From The President’s Desk: Burnham in the 21st Century

On November 8, the Chicagoland Chamber will host the 27th Daniel H. Burnham Award Dinner. The event honors business leaders who also do outstanding civic and community work. It’s inspired by an ideal that Burnham, himself, put forth: the improvement of the land, infrastructure and cultural institutions that surround us and make our city uniquely wonderful.

The Burnham Plan of Chicago, published in 1908, was a vision for an integrated, fully connected Chicago. The women and men who have received the Chamber’s Burnham Award are torchbearers of this legacy. They’ve led civic initiatives that among other things brought us Millennium Park, the integrated green space of the Museum Campus, and the original expansion of O’Hare Airport. They grew our academic institutions and diversified the leadership of our corporations for greater inclusion and profitability. 

This year’s Burnham Award honoree is Christopher Crane, President and CEO of Exelon. Chris literally keeps the lights on across Chicago and much of America, and Exelon’s local electricity supplier ComEd has some of the lowest energy costs in the country – a tremendous boost for Chicago-region businesses. Chris and Exelon are catalysts for economic development, job creation and clean energy. They’re also deeply engaged in civic and community work. Chris is a board director of Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry and Get IN Chicago, which works to reduce youth violence and the underlying issues that lead to it. He also is passionately engaged in local programs that prepare students to be the next generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering and math.

At the Burnham Dinner, Chris, the Chamber Chairman Bruce Lubin, and I – along with other business/civic leaders including emerging leaders – will lay out a new vision for carrying the Burnham Plan forward. This vision includes infrastructure that makes our downtown not just an improved destination, but also a gateway to our broader neighborhoods and communities. Opportunity will flow in all directions, for everyone to access. We envision economic growth in all parts of the city and across the suburbs. We also see new education and training opportunities to develop and retain talent. Cultivating and serving talented people is the foundation of our 21st Century Burnham Plan.

The Burnham Dinner is the Chamber’s largest fundraiser of the year. Support we receive through the purchase of tickets, tables and sponsorships is crucial to maintaining and growing the Chamber’s role as the largest independent voice for businesses. With a new mayor coming in, our city and region are at a crossroads. It is more important now than ever to have a strong Chamber of Commerce and to make sure our voice is heard.

Please join us in attending and supporting the Burnham Dinner. Invest in a sponsorship, table or tickets. You’ll be supporting the Chamber’s mission and also engaging with the top business leaders in Chicago. It’s a great room to be in for business development.

Details about the event are at this link. I hope you will join me, Chris Crane, Bruce Lubin and our past Burnham honorees five weeks from tonight.


Jack Lavin

President & CEO

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce