September 24, 2020

Gala honors 3 Chicagoans helping to keep us safe during pandemic

Virtual Gala announcement graphic

Looking for the links for tonight’s event? All details including how to watch and participate in the silent auction are here.

Heartland Health Centers will honor three champions who have gone above and beyond to help the community during the COVID-19 pandemic at their all-virtual annual gala to be held online Saturday, Oct. 3.

“Amid the challenges we faced this year, so many have been working so hard to keep us safe,” Heartland Health Centers Acting CEO Nicole Willis said. “We wanted to raise up and celebrate some of those individuals at our gala this year.”

The virtual event will take place online at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. Jeff Tweedy and the Chicago Children’s Choir will provide entertainment, Ji Suk Yi of NewsNation will return as Master of Ceremonies, and DJ Gac will provide the music before and at the After Party.

Online attendance is free to the public; donations and sponsorships before or during the event will go to support community-based affordable health care on Chicago’s North Side, northern suburbs and beyond. Details and registration on our Gala page.

Headshots of 2020 honoreesBeing honored at the event this year are:

  • Architect Douglas King, AIA NCARB ACHA, Vice President of Healthcare at PMA, will receive Heartland Health Center’s COVID-19 innovation in Architecture Award. King helped lead the team that designed, from scratch, a 3,000-bed emergency field hospital at McCormick Place that could handle the medical challenges and contagiousness of COVID. Thankfully it was not needed but the parts have been stockpiled and the plans may influence future emergency facility design.
  • Candace C. Wendell, RN, Surgical Nurse at Amita Health-St. Francis, will receive Heartland Health Center’s COVID-19 Extraordinary Service Award. As manager of the Surgical Services at Amita-Health St. Francis, her team has faced the incredible challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak placed on doctors, nurses, all medical personnel and all frontline workers in helping others.
  • Ngozi O. Ezike, MD, Director, Illinois Department of Public Health, will receive Heartland Health Center’s COVID-19 Voice Of Reason Award for her passionate plea on how to fight the virus in English and Spanish at home and in the community.

Typically a sold-out event attended in person by hundreds each fall, this is Heartland Health Centers’ first-ever virtual gala. Like many organizations, the nonprofit, which receives government support as well as charitable donations, chose to go virtual for its largest annual fundraising event of the year due to the pandemic.

This annual event raises critical sustaining funds and supports Heartland Health Centers continued growth. This year, money raised will underwrite ongoing Personal Protective Equipment and telehealth technology costs needed to provide services during this pandemic.

Platinum sponsors of the event include: GinnGroup Consulting; Impact, and Visualutions. Gold sponsors include Cressey & Company; PharmacyOne Plus; Swedish Hospital, part of NorthShore; Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, and Thresholds.

Join the event: Free to participate, but registration required, and contributions help ensure access to affordable quality care for families across Chicago’s North Side, northern suburbs and beyond. More information including a complete sponsor list is at