These are the acceptance speeches of the 2018 Laureates who were awarded the Order of Lincoln by The Lincoln Academy of Illinois at the 54th Convocation, which took place in the Coronado Theater, Rockford on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Myrna and Major General John Borling (USAF-ret) were Co-Chairs of the Convocation.

Emily Bear

Pianist, Composer, Songwriter – Emily Bear of Rockford, Illinois, at only 16-years of age, has achieved groundbreaking success as a pianist, composer and songwriter. A chart-topping recording artist, she enjoys arranging, orchestrating, and performing in a diverse collection of styles including jazz, classical, film music and pop. Having made her professional debut at the Ravinia Festival at 5 years old, she has since performed at many of the worlds’ most well-known venues including Carnegie Hall, the White House, Lincoln Center, Montreux Jazz Festival, and the Hollywood Bowl. Symphonies across the world have performed Emily’s original compositions and she has helped raise millions for charities across the globe through performances and events.

Richard M. (Dick) Butkus

Athlete, Professional Football Player, Linebacker – “Richard M. (Dick) Butkus of Chicago, Illinois was drafted by the Chicago Bears of the National Football League in 1965 after a stellar career as a student athlete at the University of Illinois. He is widely regarded as one of the best linebackers of all time. He played nine seasons for the Bears and was inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 and has been recognized with virtually every award available in his sport at both the collegiate and professional levels. Following his career as a player Butkus appeared in more than a dozen movies, a variety of television shows and has been supportive of charitable activities through The Butkus Foundation, Inc.” – from Governor Rauner’s Sept. 12, 2017 press release

Steven Shih Chen

Founder and Chief Technology Officer of YouTube – “Steven Chen, an alumnus of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, was the co-founder and chief technology officer of YouTube. In 1999, Steve arrived in Silicon Valley to join PayPal after studying Computer Science at the University of Illinois – Urbana, Champaign. On his first day at PayPal, Steve met Chad Hurley, who would later become his YouTube co-founder.

Steve was instrumental in building YouTube into a viral video phenomenon. He was the CTO of YouTube during its major growth phase. He helped lead YouTube through the Google acquisition for $1.65 billion, less than a year after launching the site. As the key technologist, Steve developed the company’s massive data centers and helped build YouTube into a premier entertainment destination, and one of the most popular websites on the Internet today.

Steve has received several prestigious honors and acknowledgments from the business and entertainment communities including: Business 2.0’s “50 Most Influential People,” GQ’s “Men of the Year,” Time magazine’s “Best Invention of the Year”, and Fortune’s “Most Powerful People in Business.” Steve joins GV from AVOS, the incubator he founded with Chad Hurley in 2011.” – from Governor Rauner’s Sept. 12, 2017 press release

Mellody Hobson

President, Chairman, Director, Charitable Leader – “Mellody Hobson is President of Ariel Investments and chairman of Ariel Investment Trust’s board of trustees. A director of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Starbucks Corporation, Mellody is chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit providing Chicago teens with high quality, after-school programming. Mellody regularly contributes to CBS News, the Tom Joyner Morning Show and Black Enterprise. Mellody is chair of The Economic Club of Chicago’s board of directors, a board member of The Chicago Public Education Fund, George Lucas Education Foundation, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and Sundance Institute. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. In 2015, Mellody was named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. Mellody earned her A.B. degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy.” – from Governor Rauner’s Sept. 12, 2017 press release

Father Michael J. Garanzini, S.J.

University Administrator, Professor, Author, Scholar – “Father Michael J. Garanzini, S.J. is a distinguished university administrator, professor, author, and scholar who has spent the majority of his career working in higher education. He served as President of Loyola University Chicago for 14 years and then assumed the role of Chancellor in 2015. This year, he returned to Fordham University where he taught prior to coming to Loyola. He is a visiting research faculty member at Fordham. During his tenure at Loyola, he brought the university out of debt in just a few years and initiated a series of construction projects on both of Loyola’s city campuses. Very active in community service, Father Garanzini is well known for his work on behalf of children and families. He has published many books and articles on issues such as child and family therapy, moral development, and Catholic education.

In June 2011, Father Garanzini was appointed by Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., the superior general of the Society of Jesus, to serve as the secretary for higher education for the Society of Jesus. In this role, which officially began on September 1, 2011 and is in addition to his continued service as chancellor of Loyola, Father Garanzini assists the Father General on a part-time basis, coordinating and championing Jesuit higher-education issues around the world.” – from Governor Rauner’s Sept. 12, 2017 press release

Edward McMillan

Agribusiness Leader, President & CEO of Purina Mills – “Edward L. McMillan was born and raised on the family farm in McDonough County, Illinois; a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a leader in state and national agribusiness, notably President and CEO of Purina Mills. McMillan has served on many industry boards of directors plus extensive civic and philanthropy organizations, including Chairman, Board of Trustees, University of Illinois System.” – from Governor Rauner’s Sept. 12, 2017 press release

Louis H. Philipson, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Diabetes Authority, Director, Discoverer – “Louis H. Philipson, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics in the Section of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Chicago, and a leading world authority on diabetes mellitus. He is the Founding Director of the Kovler Diabetes Center and President of the Chicago Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association. Dr. Philipson was a co-discoverer of insulin gene mutations causing neonatal diabetes, and helped make the University the Chicago the national leader in the study of monogenic diabetes. He also directs research in preventing and treating type 1 diabetes. Dr. Philipson completed his Ph.D. and medical training at the University of Chicago, and is a graduate of Harvard College.” – from Governor Rauner’s Sept. 12, 2017 press release

David Rydell

President, CEO, & Chairman of Bergstrom Inc. – “David Rydell is Chairman of Bergstrom Inc., a designer and producer of climate systems for the commercial vehicle industry. He assumed the position of President and CEO in 1986 and Chairman in 2011. He helped position the company, along with Bergstrom’s management team, to have global production capabilities as well as become recognized as a technology leader in no-idle heating and air conditioning in its marketplace. Mr. Rydell is a native of Rockford, Illinois and throughout his career has served and continues to serve on the boards of many community and not-for-profit organizations. He also supports said organizations and others through the family and company foundations. Mr. Rydell is a graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.” – from Governor Rauner’s Sept. 12, 2017 press release