the annual jack blane community service award, launched in 2014, honors jack blane and his exemplary work within the community.
A founding member and previous Chairman of HPCF, Mr. Blane’s commitment to serving others extended to all aspects of his life.
Jack Blane’s commitment to serving others has extended to all aspects of his life. After serving his country as a Marine, Mr. Blane settled in Highland Park where he became a successful businessman. Maintaining his commitment to community service, Mr. Blane offered humanitarian services as a Rotarian. He also served as a City of Highland Park Councilman, through which he helped residents, businesses, and numerous local organizations and agencies. In 1992, Mr. Blane became a founding member of The Highland Park Community Foundation. He has served as Chairman of the Board and continues to serve on the Board of Directors.
HPCF Board of Directors. Standing (L to R): Jean Meadows, Sofia Alvarez, Cynthia Witten, Betsy Brint, Peter Flanzer, Cookie Kohn, David Reich, Alyssa Knobel, Don Stewart. Seated (L to R): Karen Resin, Ginny Schulte, Jack Blane, Tom Koulentes, Nancy Mills. Absent: David Fairman, Deborah Cogan, Julie Kraff, Jon Levey, Laurie Levin, Walter Nathan, Joe Reinstein, Robyn Schuster.
2023 – Latham & Watkins LLP and the legal team of Dan Breslin, Diana Doyle, Karen Frankenthal, Mark Gerstein, and Daniel Robinson
After the Highland Park shooting, donors across the country and around the globe showed their generosity and compassion at a time when those affected needed it most. The HPCF needed a structure to quickly and transparently distribute these donations to maximize the support for victims and their families and organizations that served the needs of impacted community members.
At our 2023 Gather for Good event, we proudly recognized Highland Park resident Mark Gerstein, who had recently retired from Latham & Watkins LLP, and four of his former colleagues – Daniel Breslin, Diana Doyle, Karen Klass, and Daniel Robinson. Their invaluable counsel and contributions to the Together Highland Park Unidos Committee, which the HPCF formed to manage the distribution process, were critical resources during those difficult times.
We also recognized Latham & Watkins LLP. Its strong and unwavering commitment to pro bono service, which enabled and encouraged these wonderful lawyers to dedicate their time and talents to help the Committee and, through that, our community, serve as a model for all professional service firms.
L to R: David Reich, HPCF Immediate Past-Chair; Terri Olian, HPCF Executive Director, Betsy Brint, HPCF Chair, Mark Gerstein, Diana Doyle, Karen Frankenthal, Daniel Robinson, Laurie Levin, HPCF Vice-Chair
L to R: Mark Gerstein, Diana Doyle, Karen Frankenthal, Daniel Robinson
2022 – Nancy Mills
At our 2022 Gather for Good event, we proudly recognized Nancy Mills as our 2023 Jack Blane Community Service Award recipient.
Nancy served the Foundation as Board Chairman from 2018-2020 and has been a member of our Board of Directors since 2009. As Betsy Brint and Karen Resin said in presenting her award, “Nancy’s creative insights combined with her marketing background and deep caring for our community were, and still are, a force for good. She has helped to increase the Foundation’s reach and expand its impact. Once a member of the Board, Nancy jumped in with both feet. She inspired all of us to take the HPCF from a grassroots organization to the polished and professional organization it is today.”
Nancy’s contributions to the Highland Park and Highwood community have been and still are tremendous. At the same time, her philanthropic work extends beyond our community. As Betsy and Karen concluded in their remarks, “There is no limit to what Nancy can achieve. We are honored, humbled and inspired by her.”
Congratulations, Nancy! It was our great pleasure to present you with the Jack Blane Community Service Award.
L to R: Nancy Mills, Betsy Brint (HPCF Board Chair), Karen Reisin (HPCF Board Member)
2021 – Sara Sher
We are very proud to recognize Sara Sher as our 2021 Recipient of the Jack Blane Community Service Award! Born and raised in Kansas City, Sara moved with her husband Mike to Highland Park where they raised their three children. Sara spent her volunteer time contributing to her children’s schools as well as to the community. In addition to serving on PTA boards and citywide drug education programs, Sara taught English and Humanities at Edgewood Middle School where she participated on numerous school and district committees. After she retired, Sara continued to feed her passion for education as Chair of the HPCF Golden Apple Committee.
“I went into teaching because of my strong desire to make a difference in children’s lives during their challenging teen years. I emphasized content along with the important of personal discipline, respect, resiliency, and public service. I tried to demonstrate these values in the way I have lived my own life. Upon retiring, I still felt the need to honor and support the unsung heroes of our children’s lives – their teachers. This year of the pandemic really demonstrated their importance and value. I am happy to have played a small role in supporting HPCF’s contribution to our community by championing our teachers.” Sara Sher
2020 – Cookie Anspach Kohn
Cookie Kohn has been an HPCF Board member since 2005, chairs our Nominating Committee, and serves on our Executive Committee. She joined and has remained on the Board because of the alignment between our efforts to improve people’s lives and the goals of what most matters to her.
Born and raised in Highland Park, she attended Highland Park schools before graduating from Duke University with an AB in history and then obtaining a Master’s in Educational Administration from Northwestern University. A former teacher and now co-director with her husband, Henry, of Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc., Highland Park, Cookie has served on a number of local boards including Highland Park Community Early Learning Center, Tri-Con Child Care Center, and two Highland Park School Districts (107 and 113).
She credits her parents for instilling in her the value of community service, which is shared by Henry, their two sons and daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. As a Board and community, we have benefited greatly from Cookie’s commitment to our work!
L to R: Cookie with HPCF Board members Don Stewart, Betsy Brint, Nancy Mills, Patty Pell (Advisory Council member), Cindy Witten (past Board Member), David Reich, Wally Nathan
2019 – patty pell
Advisory Council Member
At its second annual Gather for Good celebration, the Highland Park Community Foundation proudly awarded the Jack Blane Community Service Award to Patty Pell.
Born and raised in Highland Park, Patty spent her adult years giving back to the community with hands-on charitable work, a 22-year track record on the Board of YEA! HP, and 13 years of service with the HPCF.
As HPCF Board Chairman noted in presenting the award, “Patty truly enjoys addressing needs, whether at the personal or community level, and we are thrilled to recognize her for all her contributions.” Board Member Bobbie Hinden, who co-presented the award, added, “I know how kind and loyal she is. She is always there for anyone in need, and very loved.”
Patty Pell, Nancy Mills (HPCF Executive Committee member and Past Chairman)
Nancy Mills, Patty Pell, Bobbie Hinden (HPCF Board member)
2018 – alyssa knobel
City Council HPCF Liaison
On September 14, 2018, Foundation Chairman, Nancy Mills, and Board Secretary, Betsy Brint, presented the award to Alyssa Knobel at the Foundation’s first Gather for Good fundraising event.
As Nancy and Betsy stated in presenting the award: “Past recipients of the Jack Blane Community Service Award are other champions of our community: Bruce Goodman, Tom Koulentes, Andy Livingston and Richard Cortesi. Anyone who knows Alyssa, knows she fits in well with this impressive group. She is extremely generous, passionate and capable.
She is selfless in her desire to do good, and inspires the rest of us to do good and do more. She’s a two-term Highland Park City Councilman, City Council liaison to various business groups as well as the city’s Human Relations Commission and School District 112.
She’s the City Council liaison to the HPCF, and from day one has shared her energy and ideas to make us a better, more impactful Foundation. Alyssa leads by example. She doesn’t want to do a good job, she wants to hit it out of the park every time.”
Jeremy Knobel, Alyssa Knobel, Stephen Knobel
Betsy Brint (HPCF Board Vice-Chairman), Alyssa Knobel, Nancy Mills (HPCF Executive Committee member and Past Chairman)
2017 – richard cortesi
long-time hpcf board and advisory Council member
The Highland Park Community Foundation is proud to honor Richard Cortesi as the winner of the 2017 Jack Blane Community Service Award.
HPCF Executive Committee member, Betsy Brint, presented the award to Mr. Cortesi at the annual Grant Awards Dinner on October 18, 2017.
As Ms. Brint stated, “Mr. Cortesi epitomizes the spirit of community consciousness. A lifelong Highland Park resident, he has devoted himself to serving the Highland Park and North Shore communities with his successful business, Sunset Foods, and has assumed a variety of roles beneficial to the community-at-large.”
She went on to say, “As an innovative businessman, he has served the community and provided employment; as a philanthropist, he has supported organizations to help those in need; and, as a visionary, he has tempered his decisions with guidelines insuring that all decisions are the best for all concerned.”
Peter Flanzer, HPCF Chairman, added, “The Highland Park Community Foundation is delighted to celebrate Richard Cortesi for his dedicated community service and for making such a generous and impactful difference in our community.”
Richard Cortesi and Family
Click here to see the video of Richard Cortesi accepting the 2017 Jack Blane Community Service Award.
Richard Cortesi, 2017 Jack Blane Community Service Award Recipient
2016 – andrew livingston
long-time hpcf board and advisory board member
The Highland Park Community Foundation is proud to honor Andrew Livingston as the winner of the 2016 Jack Blane Community Service Award.
HPCF Chairman Peter Flanzer presented the third annual Jack Blane Community Service Award to the 2016 honoree, Andrew Livingston. Mr. Livingston is a lifelong resident of Highland Park. He served as Highland Park Community Foundation Chairman from 2010-2013. For the past 15 years, Andy has supported the Highland Park/Highwood community, first as a HPCF Board member and now as an Advisory Board member.
“All of us at HPCF are thrilled to honor Andrew Livingston for his outstanding service and dedication. Andy was a tireless advocate for the Foundation and he wore his passion for serving the unmet needs of our Highland Park community on his sleeve,” said Mr. Flanzer.
Peter Flanzer (HPCF Executive Committee Member and Past Chairman), Andrew Livingston, Nancy Mills (HPCF Executive Committee Member and Past Chairman)
Andrew Livingston, 2016 Jack Blane Community Service Award Recipient
2015 – tom koulentes
hpcf board member and former hpcf principal
The Highland Park Community Foundation is proud to honor Tom Koulentes as the winner of the 2015 Jack Blane Community Service Award.
Tom Koulentes, former Principal of Highland Park High School, currently serves on the HPCF Board of Directors.
An outstanding leader, Dr. Koulentes demonstrated his commitment to helping children reach their potential through the many programs he nurtured. His commitment extended beyond children, however, to helping their families and our community at large.
Wally Nathan (left), HPCF Board member and Past Chairman, presenting the 2015 Jack Blane Community Service Award to Tom Koulentes
Tom Koulentes: 2015 Recipient of the Jack Blane Community Service Award
2014 – bruce goodman
long-time hpcf board and advisory board member
The Highland Park Community Foundation is proud to honor Bruce Goodman as the winner of the 2014 Jack Blane Community Service Award.
Bruce Goodman was honored as the first recipient of the Jack Blane Community Service Award in December of 2014.
A lifelong resident of Highland Park, Mr. Goodman demonstrated through time, effort, and generous donations, his commitment to improving the quality of life in the Highland Park/Highwood community.