Dawoud Bey and Tonika Lewis Johnson 2021 PHA Recipients


May 20, 2021 – Sep 10, 2023

Join us for #2022PHA!

Thank You for Your Joining Us!

  • Missed it or would like to watch it again? Click here.
  • View the virtual program booklet here.

Our high-energy, one-hour virtual show features performances, stories, and intimate time with our awardees Dawoud Bey and Tonika Lewis Johnson, photographers and activists both. The event, our most important fundraiser and celebration of the year, is open to all who want to support Illinois Humanities and honor awardees Dawoud and Tonika. This event is co-chaired by Mea Konopasek and Jennifer Wirtz.

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Dawoud Bey will receive the Beacon Award for his remarkable accomplishments as a photographer, humanist, and educator. A 2017 MacArthur Fellow, his photographs and video works have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and Europe, including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), the National Gallery of Art, and other museums worldwide. He is currently a Professor of Art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago. Dawoud’s October 2020 feature in the New York Times provides a timely overview of his impressive work.

About the Beacon Award
Launched in 2020, the Beacon Award honors an individual or organization who has been a champion for – or investor in – the humanities in Illinois, elevating the work of humanists in ways that have improved the quality of the state for its residents.

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Tonika Lewis Johnson is a photographer/social justice artist and life-long resident of Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Englewood. She is also co-founder of two community-based organizations, Englewood Arts Collective and Resident Association of Greater Englewood, that mobilize people and resources for positive change. She turned the Folded Map project into a non-profit organization where she serves as Creative Executive Officer. She was named one of Field Foundation’s Leaders for a New Chicago and most recently, she was appointed as a member of the Cultural Advisory Council of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events by the Chicago City Council.

About the Public Humanities Award
Established in 1984, the Public Humanities Award luncheon celebrates people who have made an indelible impact on our state through their work in and support of the humanities. This event is Illinois Humanities most important annual fundraiser and enables us to provide free public humanities programs and grants across the state.

Sponsor the 2021 Public Humanities and Beacon Awards now!

For information about the Public Humanities Award and Beacon Award including sponsorship opportunities for #2021PHA, please contact Magda Slowik at magdalena.slowik@ilhumanities.org or (312) 422-5584

  • Mea Konopasek*, Event Co-Chair
  • Jennifer Wirtz*, Event Co-Chair
  • Antoinette Burton
  • Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko
  • Melody Spann Cooper
  • Sharon Corwin
  • Rachel DeWoskin
  • Susan Eleuterio*
  • Deborah Epstein*
  • Sylvia Ewing
  • Denise B. Gardner
  • Helene Gayle
  • Esther Grimm
  • Brenda and James Grusecki
  • Tracie D. Hall
  • Debra Kerr
  • Priscilla Kersten
  • O. Victoria Lakes-Battle
  • Gabrielle Lyon
  • MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program
  • Angelique Power
  • Michal Raz-Russo
  • Elizabeth Siegel

*Denotes Illinois Humanities Board of Directors member

  • 2020 – Sylvia Ewing and Eve L. Ewing
    2020 Beacon Award Recipient – Weinberg/newton Gallery
  • 2019 – Cheryl Lynn Bruce and Kerry James Marshall
  • 2018 – Danielle Allen and Mannie Jackson
  • 2017 – Jeanne Gang
  • 2016 – Dr. Walter E. Massey
  • 2015 – Howard Tullman
  • 2014 – Jay Franke and David Herro
  • 2013 – Lisa Yun Lee
  • 2012 – Bruce Sagan and Bette Cerf Hill
  • 2011  – John a. Wing
  • 2010 – Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
  • 2008 – Carlos Tortolero
  • 2007 – Barbara Gaines
  • 2006 – Mary a. Dempsey
  • 2005 – the Honorable Abner and Zoe Mikva
  • 1994 – Martin E. Marty, Stanley J. Ikenberry, Richard J. Franke, Chicago Tribune
  • 1993 – Francis J. Pettis
  • 1992 – Nancy Anderson Stevenson
  • 1990 – Bridget Lamont
  • 1989 – Cyrus Colter
  • 1988 – Brena and Lee Freeman
  • 1987 – the Honorable Dawn Clark Netsch and Walter Netsch
  • 1986 – Mary Ward Wolkonsky
  • 1985 – J. Michael Lennon
  • 1984 – John Hope Franklin, Stuart Steuver, the Honorable Jim Edgar, the Honorable Paul Simon, the Honorable Sidney Yates, Louise año Nuevo Kerr
State Sponsorship
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Region Sponsorship
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City Sponsorship
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Mae P. Hong

Gail H. Shiel-Mahoney and George F. Mahoney

Susan A. Manning and Doug A. Doetsch

Verett Mims

Arthur and Jennifer Wirtz


Marsha and Philip Dowd

Susan Eleuterio and Tom Sourlis

Deborah Epstein

Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation

The Field Foundation

Denise B. Gardner

Virginia C. Gerst and C. Gary Gerst

Lowell Jaffe

Priscilla Kersten

Gabrielle Lyon

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Weinberg/Newton Gallery



BMO Harris Bank

EAB Solutions


First Bank Chicago

Dedrea and Paul Gray

Brenda and James Grusecki

Gus and Susan Haramaras

Jane A. Hays and David J. Downey


Paula R. Kahn

Lisa Yun Lee

Richie Marrero and 360 Benefits

Anne and Roger Taylor

Terra Foundation for American Art

Elizabeth M. Thompson and Donald E. Thompson Jai Winston



Dickerson Global Advisors

Brett Eldredge

Sylvia Ewing

Randy Holgate and John Peterson

Debra Kerr

Mea Konopasek

Ron Kowalke

Joan Shapiro

Liz Siegel and Greg Jacobs

G. Isaac and Ava Stanley

Reed & Liz Soldwedel

Surgical Solutions

Bobette Takiff

Christy Uchida

David Woolwine and Kevin Williams