Ellen Elias
Business and Professional People for the Public Interest

Thanks to all our supporters for making BPI's annual dinner a great success! 

Your generous support enables BPI to address the challenges of urban poverty, increase housing opportunity, build vital communities, strengthen early childhood learning, and reform Illinois' justice system.


The evidence is compelling: The Chicago Police Department is in urgent need of reform. While the problems are clear, the path to solutions is complex and challenging. Please  join us for a frank and insightful discussion of what it will take to achieve true police reform in Chicago.

Steve Edwards Steve Edwards 
Steve Edwards, Executive Director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, will lead a discussion on forging a path that will lead to increased police accountability and effectiveness while strengthening public safety. Before joining the Institute and UChicago in 2012, he covered public policy and politics for almost 14 years at WBEZ, where he hosted the acclaimed daily shows The Afternoon Shift and Eight Forty-Eight. Steve’s work has appeared on the BBC, Bloomberg News, PBS, and NPR, and he has moderated numerous candidate debates. 

Theron Bowman
Theron Bowman Theron Bowman, Deputy City Manager and former Police Chief of Arlington, TX, is a respected national expert on evidence-based policing. He has managed police practices investigations and audits in many large cities, including Los Angeles, Newark, and New Orleans. Theron holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Public Administration and is the recipient of numerous local and national awards. He began his career as an Arlington police officer in 1983, and was promoted to department chief in 1999, a position he held until 2012.  

Lori Lightfoot
Lori Lightfoot Lori Lightfoot has been committed to public service and social justice throughout her legal career. Lori has been a federal prosecutor and served in several leadership roles in Chicago city government.  A partner at Mayer Brown LLP, she was appointed President of the Chicago Police Board by Mayor Emanuel in 2015 and chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Police Accountability, which produced a frank and powerful report revealing systemic problems within the Chicago Police Department and outlining recommendations for a massive overhaul of Chicago’s police accountability infrastructure.  In 2016 Lori received the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Award and Domincan University’s Ethics and Leadership Award.  

Tanya Watkins
Tanya Watkins Community leader and activist Tanya Watkins is the Acting Executive Director/Lead Organizer for SOUL—Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation.  SOUL is a member of the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA), the coalition of community groups with whom BPI is working on police reform. SOUL helps low-income people of color build and leverage power for their communities.  As a mother, writer, and community organizer, Tanya's is a strong and effective voice for police reform. 



Hamilton: An American Musical

BPI was pleased to present its first-ever Arts in the Public Interest award to Hamilton and the HAMILTON Education Program.

This innovative program is providing 20,000 Chicago high school students and their teachers from Title 1 schools the opportunity to see the show and participate in an intensive 6-week classroom study of the people, events, and documents of the Founding Era.

During this time, students study primary sources, learn how Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda incorporated historical facts into the songs he wrote for the show, and then apply that knowledge to produce their own performance pieces. The capstone event is a daylong field trip to the PrivateBank Theatre, where students are invited to perform their works before their peers on the Hamilton stage, participate in a Q and A with Hamilton cast members, and then take in the ultimate theater experience—the hit show Hamilton!

The award was presented by BPI Director Myles D. Berman, and accepted by Kaitlin Fine, Associate Company Manager of Chicago’s Hamilton production, on behalf of Hamilton and Baseline Theatrical, Hamilton’s production/management company.


Jamie Kalven
Executive Director, Invisible Institute
Journalist and human rights activist Jamie Kalven is the founder and Executive Director of the Invisible Institute, an independent journalism production company on Chicago’s South Side.  He has reported extensively on patterns of police abuse and impunity in Chicago. Jamie’s investigative reporting of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald exposed troubling problems in the Chicago Police Department that led to a public outcry for city and federal investigations of the police accountability and oversight system and demands for reform.  More recently, his series "Code of Silence" prompted the Cook County State's Attorney to launch an investigation of possible cases of wrongful conviction. Jamie’s many honors include the 2015 Polk Award for Local Reporting and 2016 Ridenhour Courage Prize. 

Lori Lightfoot
(See biography above)