Six to receive Illinois’ highest honor during Saturday, April 29 ceremony

SPRINGFIELD – Six Illinoisans will receive the state’s highest honor on Saturday, April 29 in Springfield during the 59th annual Lincoln Academy of Illinois Convocation. The ceremony honoring the six as Lincoln Laureates will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Illinois House of Representatives chamber at the Illinois State Capitol. A reception will follow at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Both events are by invitation only.


The individuals to be honored include Jayne Carr Thompson, His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory, Karen Hasara, John W. Rogers Jr., Thomas E. Skilling III and Paula Wolff. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, as president of The Lincoln Academy, will bestow the honors on the recipients.


“These six Lincoln Laureates have excelled in their fields and serve as shining examples of what is possible when you have dedication, determination and a desire to improve humanity,” said The Hon. Thomas Spears, chancellor of the Academy. “They are truly worthy of this honor, which bears the name of one of the most respected and admired people in U.S. History.”


Established in 1964, the Order of Lincoln honors Illinois residents whose work uplifts every community in the state. The six recipients join more than 350 distinguished Illinois residents who have joined the Order of Lincoln over the last five decades.


This year’s recipients are:


Jayne Carr Thompson is the former First Lady of Illinois and an author, tax and civil litigator, and business communications consultant. The only designated substitute speaker for her late husband, Governor James R. Thompson, Jayne assumed statewide leadership roles on issues relating to women, child health care and education.


His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory is the seventh Archbishop of Washington. Cardinal Gregory is a Chicago native and served as auxiliary bishop of Chicago, the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and was installed as the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington on April 4, 2019.


Karen Hasara was an Illinois State Representative and Senator, two-term mayor of Springfield, and a teacher. A lifelong Springfield resident, Hasara’s public service career has spanned 40 years and she became the first and only female mayor of her hometown. Hasara continues to advocate for women, the community, Illinois, and global relations.


John W. Rogers, Jr., is the co-CEO of Ariel Investments. Rogers’ passion for investing began at age 12 and he founded Ariel in 1983 to focus on patient, value investing within small- and medium-sized companies. Rogers was named Mutual Fund Manager of the Year by Sylvia Porter’s Personal Finance magazine; an All-Star Mutual Fund Manager by USA TODAY; and was highlighted alongside legendary investors Warren Buffett, Sir John Templeton and Ben Graham in the distinguished book “The World’s 99 Greatest Investors.”


Thomas E. Skilling III is the long-time chief meteorologist on WGN-TV and is a Chicago Tribune daily weather columnist. Skilling’s successful career in broadcasting started at the age of 14 when he was hired by WKKD radio in his hometown of Aurora. Skilling celebrated his 40th anniversary with Chicago’s WGN in 2018, and is known for his in-depth weather reports and for his special programs on weather phenomena, one of which won him an Emmy Award.


Paula Wolff was a policy advisor for three Illinois governors and is the former President of Governors State University. Wolff’s 50-year distinguished career has included leadership positions at the highest levels of state government, higher education and the non-profit sector, and she has brought improvements to nearly every aspect of Illinois government. Wolff is currently the Policy Advisor of the Illinois Justice Project.


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