2024 E3 GALA

A Celebration of Chicago’s Children and Families

Thursday, May 16, 2024 | 6:00-10:00pm

Venue West, 221 N. Paulina St., Chicago, IL 60612


We invite you to join us for the 2024 E3 Gala! The E3 Gala is Carole Robertson Center for Learning’s annual celebration highlighting our mission to Educate, Enrich, and Empower (E3) the children and families with whom we work.

On May 16, 2024, we will gather with 250 of our closest friends and supporters over dinner, drinks, and inspiring keynote to celebrate our work over the past year.

Program of Events

6:00–7:00 pm — Cocktail Reception

7:00–9:00 pm — Program, Dinner, and Paddle Raise Auction

9:00–10:00 pm — Mix and Mingle

We are currently in a sold out capacity. For any questions or concerns, please contact: ccarreto@carolerobertsoncenter.org


From baseball fans to foodies, there’s a prize package for EVERYONE. Set your bids on these incredible experiences and make a differencetoday! Online auction closes at 6:45pm on May 16.



Jacoby Cochran
Host, City Cast Chicago

Jacoby Cochran is a writer, educator, and storyteller. He is the award winning host of City Cast Chicago, Chicago’s favorite daily news podcast! The podcast was named Best of 2021, 2022, 2023 by the Chicago Reader and Chicago Magazine calls it “the essential Chicago podcast.” You can also catch Jacoby on Chicago’s stages, TVs, and radios. As a performer, keynote speaker, and workshop leader, Jacoby has partnered with corporate clients (Google, Spotify, AT&T, Chicago Bulls, Best Buy, Samsung, Kohl’s); academic institutions (DePaul University, City Colleges, Syracuse University); and non profits (The Moth, Boys & Girls Club, American Writers Museum).

Jacoby remains dedicated to multimedia storytelling and helping other’s unlock their performance capabilities. Bookmark jacobycochran.com for live dates and schedule virtual & in-person workshops now.

Follow @cobycochran on Instagram!

Keynote Speaker

Jonathan Eig
Journalist & Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author

Jonathan Eig is the bestselling author of six books, four of them New York Times bestsellers. His most recent book, King: A Life, has been hailed as a “monumental…definitive” biography of Martin Luther King Jr. It was longlisted for the National Book Award and King was named one of the ten best books of the year by the Washington Post.

Jonathan’s previous book, Ali: A Life, won a 2018 PEN America Literary Award and was a
finalist for the Mark Lynton History Prize. His works have been translated into more than a
dozen languages. Jonathan’s first book, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, won the Casey Award. His fourth book, The Birth of the Pill, will be staged soon as a theatrical production by TimeLine Theatre in Chicago.

Jonathan is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School. He began his writing career at age 16, working for his hometown newspaper, The Rockland County (N.Y.) Journal News and went on to work as a reporter for The New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Dallas Morning News, Chicago Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.

He’s since appeared on the Today Show, NPR’s Fresh Air, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He served as a producer on the PBS documentary Muhammad Ali, which was directed by Ken Burns. But his greatest claim to fame, according to his parents, is that his name once appeared in a Jeopardy question (which was solved correctly for $200).

Keynote Interviewer

Brandis Friedman
Anchor, Chicago Tonight, WTTW/Chicago PBS

Brandis Friedman is an anchor and correspondent for Chicago Tonight, and the host of Chicago Tonight: Black Voices, both on Chicago’s PBS affiliate, WTTW. Her reporting on education and criminal justice has appeared on PBS’ NewsHour and NPR’s The Takeaway. Before joining Chicago Tonight, Brandis worked as a reporter and anchor for WBBM Newsradio 780, and as a producer/reporter for WJLA-TV/ABC-7 in Washington, DC. In addition to earning multiple regional Emmy Awards for her work, she has earned multiple Peter Lisagor Awards, recognizing excellence in journalism, from the Chicago Headline Club.

Originally from Mississippi, Brandis’ work has taken her to numerous cities including Kansas City, Missouri, Little Rock, Arkansas and Wichita Falls, Texas. She has served on the board of the Chicago Headline Club, which is the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and is a member of the Education Writers Association and National Association of Black Journalists. Brandis is a graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, where she earned a degree in Mass Communications, and Columbia University in New York City, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Journalism. Brandis lives in Evanston with her husband and two sons.

Curba Merrill Friend of the Center Awardee

Senator Ram Villivalam
8th District, State of Illinois Representative

State Senator Ram Villivalam was raised on the northwest side of Chicago. He is the son of Indian Immigrants. His parents came here in the 1970s. Though his father and mother were a civil engineer and a teacher in India respectively, they had to work minimum wage jobs, go back to school, and work their way to more than 25 years each of public service.

Senator Villivalam will always remember their struggles and the middle class values he grew up with.

Prior to being sworn into the Illinois General Assembly, Senator Villivalam spent four years advocating on behalf of home care for seniors and people with disabilities, child care for working families, Medicaid for those in need.

Senator Villivalam also worked at the federal level of government for U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider as his Outreach Director. In this role, he was responsible for outreach on a variety of policy issues and had duties that ranged from signing people up for the Affordable Care Act to organizing Job Fairs.

Senator Villivalam is honored to be an effective, proactive, and progressive voice for the people of the 8th District. He has and will continue to be focused on issues such as income equality, reducing gun violence, providing a quality education to children regardless of the zip code they reside in, and advancing immigrant, LGBTQ, and women’s rights.

Additionally, he is incredibly proud to be the first Asian American elected to the Illinois State Senate and the first Indian American elected to the Illinois General Assembly. He is currently the Chair of the Transportation Committee and also sits on the Energy and Public Utilities, Health Care Access and Availability, Human Rights, Licensed Activities and Pensions Committees.

Senator Villivalam serves his community in other roles that include being a past President of the Indo-American Democratic Organization (IADO) and previous Director on the Board of Gun Violence Prevention PAC.

Senator Villivalam lives with his wife, Elizabeth, and his sons, Rohan and Lokesh, in the North Mayfair neighborhood in the City of Chicago.

Corporate Partner of the Year Awardee

PNC Bank Illinois
Award accepted by Scott C. Swanson, President, PNC Illinois

Scott C. Swanson is president of PNC Bank in Illinois. He leads PNC’s overall growth strategy in the market, including the executive banking team, Corporate Banking, Asset Management and Retail Banking. In addition, he represents PNC and its 3,000local employees in the community and directs the company’s community engagement, including PNC’s Grow Up Great, a bilingual, early education initiative that has committed $11 million to multiple community based organizations in the Chicagoland area.

Swanson has 25 years of banking and other corporate experience. He joined PNC in February 2013 from Charter One and RBS Citizens, Illinois and Michigan, where he served as president and a member of RBS Citizen’s Executive leadership team.

Prior to Charter One in 2007, Swanson spent 17 years at JPMorgan Chase and its predecessors, the majority of which were in Chase’s commercial bank, and concluding as the national executive of Chase’s business banking operations. Swanson began his professional career at Arthur Andersen in its Tax Group.

Active in the Chicago community, Swanson serves as member to the executive committee of the Adler Planetarium (past Chair) and the Commercial Club of Chicago (current Treasurer) and serves on its Civic Committee. He serves on the boards of directors of The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce (past Chair), the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, World Business Chicago, the Big Shoulders Fund, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and the Executives’ Club of Chicago. He is a member of the Cook County Council of Economic Advisors, the Economic Club of Chicago, the finance council of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago and serves as a trustee of Neighborhood Housing Services.

Swanson earned his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, where he graduated with honors. He is also a graduate of the University of Illinois, where he earned a bachelor of science in finance.

Carole Robertson Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Gissell Garnica
Out-of-School-Time Participant

Driven by a passion for the medical field, Gissell discovered her aspiration to become a sonography ultrasound technician. Inspired by the joy her mother’s pregnancy brought to their family, she aspires to bring that same happiness to others through her career.


Peggi Boyd
Vice President, Research & Development, Quality & Workforce Management, Labelmaster
Kelsey Malnati Howell
Board Member, Carole Robertson Center for Learning
Craig Esko
Senior Vice President, PNC Bank
Larry Mages
Board Member, Carole Robertson Center for Learning
and Mary Mages
Stefanie Kruse Curley
Board Member, Carole Robertson Center for Learning
and Andrew Curley
John Smith
Board Member, Carole Robertson Center for Learning
Jessica Gaito
Board Member and Development Committee Chair, Carole Robertson Center for Learning
and Scott Gaito


Bridgehouse Museum/Friends of the Chicago River Cafe Jumping Bean Chipotle
Chicago Architecture Center Chicago Mahogany Bus Tours Chicago White Sox
Escape Factor
Fox in a Box IMC
KOVAL Distillery Kohl Children’s Museum Lake Geneva Cruise Lines
Lake Geneva Ziplines and Adventures PRP Wine International Portillo’s
The Field Museum The Joffrey Ballet Wines for Humanity
Zanies Comedy Club Stuart-Rodgers Photography Cooper’s Hawk Winery
PNC Foundation Superdawg Drive-In Movement Gym
Music Box Theatre Chicago Wolves Six Flags Great America
Chicago Athletic Clubs Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria Museum of Science and Industry



Becker’s School Supplies

Bela and Rajiv Moté

Carter, Donna, Lily, Matt & Sophie Culver


Constructive Playthings

Erikson Institute

Exelon Corporation

Cornelia Grumman & Jim Warren

Hub International

Jessica and Scott Gaito

Joanne Steinback

John Smith

John Blasi and Kathy Stohr

Marc & Jeanne Malnati Family Foundation


Maree G. Bullock

Micro-Tech USA


Perkins and Eastman

Preston Design and Construction Consulting

Stefanie & Andrew Curley

Steans Family Foundation

The Andover Companies

UI Health

William G. McGowan Charitable Fund

Wintrust Bank


Larry & Mary Mages



This evening allows us to raise necessary funds to continue supporting program innovation and general operations. Many opportunities are available to partner with us on our E3 Gala. Please see each sponosorship level below.

• Formal recognition from the podium
• Two premier tables (20 seats)
• Full-page ad in the event program
• Brand recognition in all collateral, including event program, signage, social media, and event web page
• Social media feature showcasing your marketing video during the week of the event
• Company logo recognition at your tables
• Invitation for two (2) guests to private VIP reception preceding event

CHAMPION: $15,000

• Formal recognition from the podium
•One premier table (10 seats)
• Company logo or mention in the event program, signage, social media, and event web page
• Company logo recognition at your table
• Invitation for two (2) guests to private VIP reception preceding event

LEADER: $10,000

•One premier table (10 seats)
• Company logo or mention in the event program, signage, social media, and event web page
• Company logo recognition at your table
• Invitation for two (2) guests to private VIP reception preceding event

ALLY: $5,000

•One table (10 seats)
• Company name listed in the event program, signage, social media, and event web page
• Company name listed at your table

Thank you, 2024 E3 Gala Presenting Sponsor and Corporate Partner of the Year

PNC bank advertisement for carole robertson center fundraiser

The 2024 E3 Gala is Currently SOLD OUTBut don’t worry, there are many more ways to give!

The Carole Robertson Center for Learning is a nonprofit organization that works to honor the life and memory of Carole Robertson who, together with her classmates, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair, was killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. That horrible act of injustice is emblematic of lives robbed of their full potential. With the community we strive to help children build full, free lives. Lives that reject hate, and rise up.

Our Center reaches more than 2,500 children, youth, and their families across 27 Chicago communities with high-quality early childhood education and youth development programs, bolstered by comprehensive support services for families.

Questions about events, sponsorship opportunities, or volunteering, please contact our Development team:

CRISTINA CARRETOAssociate Director of Development
P (312) 243-7300 Ext:207

Since 1976, the Carole Robertson Center for Learning has been dedicated to educating, enriching, and empowering children and families through comprehensive child and family development programs.