On a cool, autumn evening in September, the Coleman team gathered with an intimate subset of our grantee family to celebrate our retired CEO Mike Hennessy. With room to safely social distance in an indoor/outdoor space, our small group was able to hear stories, smile, and dab misty eyes as we lowered our masks and raised our glasses in tribute to Mike’s long service to the Foundation. After remarks from our board, staff, and grantees, Mike talked about his journey, recounting how he relocated his family from Quincy, Illinois back to Chicago to join the leadership of the Fannie May Candy Company. When Mike shared his transition from working at Fannie May to joining the Foundation, he reminded us of what an amazing privilege it is to steward these resources and work in partnership with our grantees to improve the lives of Chicagoans and their families.
I rounded out the program by presenting Mike with a gift on behalf of Coleman’s board and staff, a duplicate of the plaque that hangs in the Michael W. Hennessy Conference room which our board dedicated to Mike on November 13, 2020. The inscription reads:
In recognition of Michael W. Hennessy’s 33 years of service to the Coleman Foundation, its Board of Directors in November 2020 named this room the Michael W. Hennessy Conference Room.
Mike started working with the Coleman Foundation in 1987 when it was part of the Fannie May Candy Company, becoming President in 1993, and CEO in 1995. Under his leadership, the Foundation solidified its legacy as an investor in strategic, vital, and sustainable programs designed to improve the lives of people living in and around Chicago. During his 33-year tenure, over 6800 grants were awarded to organizations helping to make a difference in the areas of entrepreneurship, developmental disabilities, cancer care, and health rehabilitation.
Mike taught us that leadership is service and partnership. He taught us that effective leaders are humble, active listeners who respond to the needs of the day. I’m so grateful to be able to follow Mike’s example.
You can see photos from Mike’s celebration below and you can send Mike a message for inclusion in his memory book to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are delighted to share a list of the grants our board approved in September.
May the fall transition be gentle and kind as we enter this new pseudo-post pandemic way of being in society and community.