On Monday, November 14, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce hosted the 31st Annual Daniel H. Burnham Award Dinner to honor United Airlines President Brett J. Hart with the Award for Distinguished Leadership.

The Award for Distinguished Leadership honors an outstanding advocate for Chicago’s business community; someone who personifies the famous words of Chicago architect Daniel Hudson Burnham in 1909:

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”
Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect (1864-1912) [Source]

The 31st Recipient: Brett J. Hart

During his decade-long tenure at United Airlines, Brett has taken on some of the company’s biggest leadership challenges – including serving as acting chief executive officer in late 2015 and 2016. In his current role, Brett is responsible for United’s global operations – both flight and network operations, as well as inflight services and safety. Brett’s leadership has also been instrumental in transforming United’s corporate reputation in Chicago and around the world. He leads all of United’s external-facing teams including the government affairs, regulatory, corporate communications, advertising, market and community innovation, legal, global community engagement and environmental sustainability organizations.

Brett’s civic leadership in Chicago has been highly valued and widely recognized. Most recently, in 2021, Brett was honored with the Lester H. McKeever, Jr. Individual Service Award, which recognizes individuals who embody excellence through service and demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the quality of life for Chicago’s Black residents.

Brett received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School. He and his wife, Dontrey, live in Hyde Park and have three sons.

The Reception

On November 14, 2022, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce hosted the 31st Annual Daniel H. Burnham Award Dinner presented by CIBC at the Hilton Downtown Chicago.

The Burnham Award Dinner honors Chicago’s leaders for their tremendous civic contributions to help make Chicago a better place to both work and live. The annual event shines a light on the importance of civic involvement and is a reminder of how Chicago thrives with a fully engaged business community.

This year, more than 800 friends and supporters attended the evening, which included a program stacked with powerful guests and performances.

Featured speakers for the evening included City of Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jack Lavin, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chair of the Board Kevin Cassidy.

Other notable speakers from the business community included CIBC Bank USA President and CEO Shawn Beber, GMA Construction President Cornelius Griggs, and Mesirow Financial Senior Managing Director Erik Barefield.

The emcee of the evening, ABC 7 Chicago Windy City Weekend Co-Host Ryan Chiaverini, and a special musical performance by Paul Marinaro and the City Lights Trio brought energy to the crowd.

The evening concluded with a heart-felt standing ovation following the honorable and humble remarks from Brett Hart’s acceptance speech.

Pictures from the 31st Annual Burnham Award Dinner can be found on the Chamber’s Flickr page.

Jack Lavin (left), Brett hart (middle), and Kevin Cassidy (right)

The Sky is the Limit

Another successful Burnham Award Dinner has been added to Chicago’s history books. The optimism that surrounds our city’s growth has never been stronger. Together, we can achieve the grandest plans of all and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is here to help you plot a bold course to get there.


Watch the full-length program!

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