SOAR Speaker Series; JB Pritzker Event New Date

The JB Pritzker Meet the Candidate Event has been rescheduled to Monday, March 5

New Date
Meet JB Pritzker at the SOAR Speaker Series

Date Monday, March 5
Location   Sheraton Grand Chicago
301 E. North Water Street
Time  Registration 5:30pm Program 6:00 pm
RSVP:  Click Here
Thanks to these businesses for sponsoring the SOAR Speaker Series



SOAR Speaker Series: Meet Chris Kennedy
Democratic Illinois Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Kennedy, who served as Chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2015, believes in “the power of higher education to save our economy.” Kennedy was the first in the 2018 SOAR Meet the Candidates Speaker Series, addressing nearly 150 members, neighbors and friends on Monday, January 8, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. “Universities—and Illinois has great public universities—are the foundation for perpetual job creation,” he said, “and that is what will keep our children and grandchildren near to us.” As an example, he introduced his daughter, Katie, the oldest of four, a student at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and a Streeterville resident. But Kennedy didn’t only focus on higher education, citing a need to support public high schools throughout the State. “Some 75 percent of Illinois high school students need remedial education before going to a community college.”
Following his presentation, Kennedy fielded a number of questions ably coordinated by NBC/Channel 5 Reporter Charlie Wojciechowski, a Streeterville resident and 2017 SOAR Positively Invaluable Volunteer (P.I.V.) award-winner. Among his responses, he was optimistic about the possibility of an Illinois Governor working well with the Legislature: “Compromise isn’t surrender,” he observed. Backing term limits in the State, Kennedy pointed out that officials who have been in office “forever” are the reason why other officials regularly come and go, discouraging public service by younger citizens. Kennedy defended his position that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other City officials are engaged in “strategic gentrification” that is resulting in the “irrefutable statistics” of Black residents leaving Chicago. Whether by the “sin of commission or omission,” Kennedy cited an “overlay of increasing crime, closing high schools, not investing in affordable housing, closing mental health clinics and discouraging licenses for grocery stores and pharmacies in Black neighborhoods.” In a final question regarding arts education and the role of the arts in economic development, Kennedy revealed his particular interest in contemporary art, which “demands that we take the time to see new angles. By embracing the arts, we find ways to solve problems and find comfort,” he said. For more about Chris Kennedy go to
Shruti Kumar, Ian Novak (Draper & Kramer), Deborah Gershbein, Chris Kennedy, Charlie Wojciechowski
 Chris Kennedy, Angela Olah and Tara Fedorko
from Wintrust

Special thanks to the
Sheraton Grand Chicago
for hosting this event.



SOAR Speaker Series: Meet the Democratic Candidates

We proudly present Meet the Candidates Speaker Series. This program is of special interest for Streeterville residents and stakeholders. "Meet the Candidates" will feature candidates for the Office of Governor of Illinois, in advance of the primary election on Tuesday, March 20.  The series is free and open to the public. Joining the Candidates will be NBC Reporter Charlie Wojciechowski, a Streeterville resident and SOAR member who has moderated many Aldermanic Town Hall meetings in the past. He will introduce each candidate, who will give a short presentation in advance of an extended question-and-answer period. Mr. Wojciechowski will field questions, including some provided by audience members who share them in the RSVP registration. Other questions will come from the floor. 
While the election is widely covered in newspapers and television, radio and online news, we believe that this series provides a unique opportunity to meet the candidates face-to-face. RSVP below today and join your Streeterville neighbors, local government officials, business executives and representatives from health, education, cultural and religious organizations for this experience.
This Gubernatorial Candidate Speaker Series is presented by SOAR with sponsorship support by Draper and Kramer, Wintrust Bank, and Community Advantage Bank. 
Meet Chris Kennedy at the SOAR Speaker Series
The first in the series will feature Democratic Candidate Chris Kenenedy, who will speak on Monday, January 8.  To prepare, we encourage you to read Mr. Kennedy's professional background here and his vision for the Senate here.

Date:        Monday, January 8
Time:        Registration 6:30pm
                 Program   7:00pm
Location:  Sheraton Grand Chicago
                 301 E North Water Chicago
                 Chicago Ballroom
RSVP:      Click here

Meet Daniel Biss at the SOAR Speaker Series
Democratic Candidate Daniel Biss will speak on Monday, January 22.  Mr. Biss's background can be found here.  His positions on Illinois issues can be read here.

Date:        Monday, January 22
Time:        Registration 6:00pm
                 Program   6:30pm
Location:  The Drake Hotel
                 140 E Walton Place
                 Grand Ballroom
RSVP:      Click here

Meet JB Pritzker at the SOAR Speaker Series
The last in our Candidate series will be Democratic Candidate JB Pritzker. His background can be found at here and you can read about his positions on Illinois issues here.
 NOTE: This event has been postponed. We will update this page as we have new information.
Special thanks to our sponsors



We are grateful for the support of these businesses for hosting our event



Season's Greetings from SOAR

Season's Greeting from the SOAR Board of Directors
We wish you, your family, friends and neighbors the happiest of holiday seasons and a wonderful 2018!


Left to right first row (seated): Christian Ficara, Howard W. Melton, Bob Johnson, Clare Hennessy. 
Back row, standing; Brian Butler, Judy Aiello-Fantus, Seth Blumenthal, Gail Spreen, Debby Gershbein,
Karen Burnett, Mario W. Hollemans, Joel Brosk, Bob Levin, David Hampe.

Message from the President; Turning Advocacy into Action

In our commitment to those who love the neighborhood, the SOAR Board of Directors has been hard at work this year advocating for Streeterville, working on actionable goals to educate, advocate and inform the community. We have been effective by working very closely with government officials to advocate for the neighborhood. For example, we frequently meet with Alderman Brendan Reilly, Alderman Brian Hopkins, State Representative Christian Mitchell and Police Commander Paul Bauer, communicating concerns about quality of life issues including safety and well-being, land use, traffic, development, greening and sustainability. As an example of our effectiveness, Alderman Reilly recently wrote several letters to inform us about actions he took in response to our concerns. To read his letters visit our website and look for the Position Statements tab on the left navigation. There are 4 letters for you to read.
SOAR connects the community educationally, culturally and socially, fulfilling our goal of "Building and Celebrating Community" through the flourishing Farmers Market, a significant community gathering place. We hosted Town Halls, social events, safety and greening/sustainability seminars and a new, informative and educational Speakers Series and celebrated the beauty of the neighborhood with our Beautification Awards and the SOAR Garden Club at Lake Shore Park.  
In our 43rd year, we find that SOAR has effectively met challenges presented by a Streeterville that is vastly different from the one organized to give residents a voice in 1975. We still have more to do. But SOAR's mission remains: to preserve, enhance and promote the quality of life and community in Streeterville.  
The Annual Appeal is a major source of income to support programs and operations. If you have already donated to the 2017 year-end Annual Appeal, thank you for your generosity. If you have not donated, it is not too late to consider a tax-deductible donation "close to home." If you wish to donate click here.
As always, I will be happy to hear your ideas and respond to your questions and comments when you reach me at

Deborah Gershbein




Our Annual Appeal to Keep Streeterville SOARing

Community members like you make Streeterville the vibrant, world-class neighborhood that it is. Our members, our volunteers, our government officials, and our stakeholders are the heart and soul of our Streeterville community. Together, we have accomplished much, but the work is not done. Year after year, SOAR strives to create the Streeterville that the community members envision and the only way we can continue to do so is with your continued support. We are true to our mission statement with every penny we spend going to “preserving, promoting, and enhancing the quality of life and community.”  

We have advocated on community issues that affect your safety and wellbeing by working with our local government officials. We have maintained the community gardens at Lake Shore Park, we have published weekly community updates via SOAR eNews, we produced and managed the Farmers Market at the MCA Plaza, we have enhanced our social media presence, hosted informational forums and Town Hall meetings, social events and more. All of our activities rely on donations from members like you. Your donation not only strengthens the neighborhood, it helps to build and celebrate our wonderful community. As you reflect on your year, please take a moment to remember what SOAR has done for you.

As our days get shorter and nights get longer, we support efforts to keep our neighborhood one of the safest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago and to make it even safer. 

As the leaves start to turn a golden hew and the soil begins to freeze over, we reminisce on the beautiful gardens planted by the SOAR Garden Club, and graciously paid for with donations from dedicated members like you. 

As the holidays draw closer, Michigan Avenue fills with residents, workers, shoppers and tourists. We thank those whose efforts have tried to help make Streeterville a quieter but still vibrant neighborhood. There is still work to be done.

With 2017 coming to a close, to say we had a good year would be an understatement. All of these efforts and more were made possible by the support and participation of members of the community like you, and this year, the level of involvement and enthusiasm we received from our members has made SOAR truly soar to new heights. Your contributions will help strengthen the Streeterville community for years to come. 

We gratefully ask for your continued financial support by contributing to our Annual Appeal. SOAR is a 501(c)3 and as a result has limited sources of income. We rely on donations from our Annual Appeal to continue our community efforts.  Your donation is tax deductible to the extent of the law. We thank you for your unwavering support.


Remaining Relevant

The SOAR Board of Directors has been very busy making certain that our 2017-18 Task Force initiatives are relevant in today's world. At the October Board meeting, Task Force Chairs, who are responsible for the development of plan initiatives and implementation, were appointed for the coming year. Co-Chairs or Vice Chairs were later appointed for all Task Forces.
In a reorganization with the goal of increasing relevance to Streeterville as it is today, we have refocused the Task Force formerly known as the Real Estate Task Force, which has been renamed and will be known as the Land Use and Development Task Force.  This newly designed Task Force will focus on looking at the bigger picture of land use in the neighborhood, continuing to focus on real estate development issues but holistic in its approach. We now are combining all land uses: development, traffic, pedestrian and vehicular transportation, preservation and landmarking. We aim to strengthen the balance between residential, commercial, institutional, retail and recreational mixed uses in this community. 
Board member Gail Spreen has chaired or co-chaired the Real Estate Task Force for many years and we appreciate her efforts.  We now introduce another Board member as a highly qualified Co-Chair for this new Task Force. Helping expand SOAR's role in land use, Judy Aiello Fantus is a former City Manager of Evanston, where she oversaw many new city programs pertaining to land use and real estate development. Both Judy and Gail will serve as Co Chairs of the Land Use and Development Task Force. We look forward to their combined leadership.
Task Forces require volunteers from the SOAR membership to participate in the implementation of plans in order to accomplish missions, goals and objectives.  All of the 2017-18 Task Forces are listed below. Members are encouraged to volunteer and participate in Task Forces by contacting the Chair listed below. We truly value your efforts and passion for your community and for SOAR.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers who have generously given of their time and expertise to help make SOAR a very productive organization that benefits our wonderful Streeterville neighborhood that we live in, work in, and enjoy.
As always, I will be happy to hear your ideas and respond to your questions and comments when you reach me at
Deborah Gershbein