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Chicago’s John Bryan Named Year’s Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

(Arlington, Va. - March 15, 2011) - John Bryan, former chairman and chief executive officer of the Sara Lee Corporation and a champion of Chicago and its charitable sector, is the recipient of the 2011 Award for Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

The Award for Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser honors an individual who demonstrates outstanding skills in coordinating and motivating groups of volunteers for fundraising projects for the benefit of charitable institutions. The award will be presented on March 21, 2011, at the Awards for Philanthropy Banquet in Chicago, Ill., during AFP’s 48th International Conference on Fundraising, the largest gathering of fundraising professionals in the world.

Nominated by the Art Institute of Chicago and the AFP Chicago Chapter, Mr. Bryan has supported numerous local projects and institutions over the years. In 1993, Mayor Richard Daley asked Mr. Bryan to lead a committee of Chicago business leaders to raise $100 million for major renovation and expansion of the performing spaces for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Bryan successfully reached the goal, raising $30 million in one day through separate visits to three of Chicago’s leading executives.

In 1998, Mayor Daley again turned to Mr. Bryan, asking him to lead a $475 million development project that would become Millennium Park, an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design. Mr. Bryan solicited and helped raise more than $225 million in contributions towards the project, including a significant leadership gift of his own.

Mr. Bryan has been a huge champion of the Art Institute, serving as a trustee since 1983 and as chairman from 1999 to 2006. Under his leadership, the institute embarked upon the largest capital campaign in the history of Chicago cultural institutions. He played an active leadership role, including soliciting numerous donors in reaching the goal of $370 million. The result was a new addition, the Modern Wing, which increased gallery space by a third and doubled the facilities for education. He and his wife made leadership gifts to name the John H. Bryan Curatorial Chair of Architecture and Design and the Neville Bryan Curator of Design.

“Every resident of Chicago should feel so lucky and proud to have a champion like John Bryan who is willing to give so much of himself for the city he loves so dearly,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “He has shown time and time again that he is an extraordinary leader. He is willing to serve as the public advocate for a cause, and that kind of selflessness and dedication often spells the difference between success and failure.”

Mr. Bryan also has been involved in numerous campaigns for different charities across Chicago. He is a life trustee of the University of Chicago and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, and chaired the Business Advisory Council of the Chicago Urban League and the United Way/Crusade of Mercy Campaign, to name to just a few organizations. He has long promoted the advancement of women in business and is past chair of Catalyst, a national organization that seeks improvement for working women.

The AFP Awards for Philanthropy Banquet will take place on Monday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. More information can be obtained by contacting Michael Nilsen, AFP vice president, public affairs, at or (425) 890-6628.


The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents 30,000 members in 213 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs.  The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.  For more information, go to

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