Above: Aryk Wayne of DRAKEphoto studies the options as Kelli Drake shoots a portrait of attorney Nina R. Gougis in her new studio in the Warehouse District.
“Just chalk it up to 2020.” How often have you heard that in the last eight months? To say this year has been uniquely challenging is an understatement. From learning new technologies, to teaching our kids while working from home, to maintaining our mental health amid a decided lack of human interaction, all of us were forced to pivot in a major way. (I know, I know… everyone is sick of that word “pivot.” Sorry!)
In-person gatherings—and the businesses that depend on them—have taken the biggest hit, and our hearts go out to everyone from the restaurant and hospitality industries to the sports world. Arts organizations were forced to rework entire seasons, while creating even more content to keep their supporters engaged. Not-for-profits have also had a difficult year, with many fundraising events postponed, and others virtualized with varying degrees of success.
Some of these events were reimagined in different and unusual ways. In place of its annual Unity Gala, the UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois Foundation partnered with artist Jonathon Romain to create a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork—inviting you to “own a piece of 2020” with your donation. Meanwhile, this year’s Easterseals Tribute celebrates the “Common Threads” of our community through a series of uplifting stories shared across the range of media, as well as unique gifts inspired by Easterseals kids and an outdoor art installation by artist Heather Brammeier.
Special events have long been critical to our magazine as well. In July and August, we virtualized our Local Legends Reception and 40 Leaders Alumni Social; next month we host the Women of Influence Forum online for the first time. At the end of October, our 40 Leaders Under Forty Award Ceremony featured special guest presenters and short videos from alumni, along with a pre-event “virtual happy hour” that allowed for some casual networking. We are very proud of this year’s class, and grateful to our sponsors and the community for their continued support… even during a pandemic!
Let’s raise a toast to another group of emerging young leaders—and to everyone who is working hard to reimagine their normal operations. All of these pivots (sorry again!) sure make us quite tired at the end of the day. For now, I guess we just chalk it up to 2020. —Jonathan Wright, Editor in Chief