Chamber member Neli Vazquez Rowland (right), President and Co-Founder of A Safe Haven Foundation, is presented the Rotary Club “Service Above Self” award.

Though the Rotary Club of Chicago and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce were both founded by men, these two longstanding organizations came together on June 17 to recognize outstanding Chicago women for their contributions to the community.

The Rotary Club of Chicago’s “Chicago Woman of the Year” Luncheon honored three distinguished women who have changed lives in this city: Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President; Deborah Rickert, Founder and President, Operation Support Our Troops; and Janice Rodgers, Partner, Quarles and Brady LLP.

Preckwinkle has been a Chicago community leader for over two decades and has worked tirelessly toward making county government more transparent and accountable. Rodgers was recognized for her commitment to The Chicago Foundation for Women, which raises money to fund and support organizations that serve women. Rickert’s organization – OSOT – has blossomed from a grassroots effort to one of the largest volunteer based military support organizations in the country.

Chamber staff was surprised and delighted when the Rotary Club announced an additional award that ended up going to Chamber member Neli Vazquez Rowland, President and Co-Founder of A Safe Haven Foundation. Rowland was given a “Service Above Self” award for her work at A Safe Haven in helping people aspire, transform and sustain their lives as they transition fromhomelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.

Theresa E. Mintle, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber, served as keynote for the event. Among many topics, she discussed the advancement of women and diversity, the Chamber’s city-wide collaboration efforts to make Chicago a global economic power, and the importance of technology and STEM initiatives to all businesses in the region.

“The future of Chicago is bright, and our young people, particularly our young women, will be a major part in the continued growth and development of our region,” Mintle said. “As Henry Ford said – coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together

is success.”

Click here to view photos from the event.