The Better Government Association (BGA) raised more than $1 million at its 2021 luncheon: Character Matters. The annual luncheon, the BGA’s signature fundraising event, was held September 23 at the Fairmont Chicago Hotel in the Loop. It was also broadcast live via webcast.

Marta Carreira-Slabe, BGA Board Vice Chair, emceed the event and thanked the audience for their commitment “to demand better from our government.”

BGA President & CEO David Greising welcomed guests to the BGA’s first in-person event since the pandemic began and highlighted the organization’s work and growth over the last year. “‘The Failures Before the Fires’ was a two-year investigation by the BGA and the Chicago Tribune. We exposed how fires killed 61 people over 6 years in buildings where the city failed to address known safety problems,” Greising said. “In a follow-up investigation, we and the Tribune examined successful fire safety measures in large cities across the United States. This was the first trial of a new kind of BGA journalism focused on finding solutions and it contributed to our nomination as a finalist in the Online News Awards, the most prestigious recognition in digital journalism.”

Greising also previewed the BGA’s new podcast “The Madigan Rule” playing a 50-second trailer. The limited-series podcast is hosted by Justin Kaufmann, a veteran Chicago radio producer and host who has worked at WBEZ and WGN and has long reported on issues affecting state government. In the podcast Kaufmann speaks with people about Madigan’s rise to power and interviews those who witnessed the speaker exert his authority for more than three decades: governors, lawmakers and journalists who described how many in state politics feared Madigan and revered him, and had no choice but to reckon with his rules.

BGA presented the Daniel L. Goodwin Watchdog Award posthumously to long-time adviser and supporter, James W. Mabie, in a tribute to his legacy of ardent support for investigative journalism in Chicago and throughout Illinois. In 2020, Mabie made a leadership gift to help launch the BGA’s Fund for Illinois Investigative Reporting, which so far has helped establish two new reporting positions in the BGA’s newsroom. Daniel L. Goodwin, Chairman and CEO of The Inland Group, LLC, presented the award to David Mabie, Jim Mabie’s son.

Greising also sat down with David M. Rubenstein, philanthropist, business leader, author and television host to discuss the role of character in public life and Rubenstein’s “patriotic philanthropy.” “The reason I put all these documents I have on display, and none are in my basement, is because I want people to see them and hopefully they’ll be a better experience for people and will learn a little bit more about our democracy.”

Better Government Association’s Character Matters 2021 Annual Luncheon

Made with Flourish

Generous Supporters


John A. Canning, Jr.

Daniel L. Goodwin

Platinum Sponsors


Edwardson Family Foundation

Jim and Karen Frank

Peter and Alicia Pond

Gold Sponsors

Susan Anderson and Bob Arthur

Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Gary Elden and Phyllis Mandler


Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation

Carroll Joynes and Abby O’Neil

David and Amanda Mabie/Chicago Capital

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

Steve Miller

Jim Perry

Kathleen and Jim Skinner

Heather Steans and Leo Smith

Silver Sponsors

Alight Inc.


Chicago Pacific Founders

Robert W. Crawford, Jr., Co-Founder of the Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Lab

The Crown Family

The Duchossois Group

Michael L. Keiser

Andrew J. McKenna

Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols

Mark Rust

Svoboda Capital Partners LLC

Maryann and Ron Waryjas

Corinne and Paul Wood


Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP

BMO Harris Bank

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Charles River Associates

Crain’s Chicago Business


Peter and Paula Fasseas

Jim Gordon, The Edgewater Funds

Italian Village Restaurant

Lavin Family Foundation

Robert and Linda Levin

John and Judy McCarter

Medill School, Northwestern University


Northern Trust

Mark and Marcie Peterson

Chris Rooney

John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe

#SistersInLaw and iGenPolitics Podcasts


The Better Government Association is a non-partisan, nonprofit news organization and civic advocate working for transparency, equity and accountability in government in Chicago and across Illinois. The BGA uncovers waste and wrongdoing in government, holds elected officials accountable, litigates for open records and meetings, advocates for good government and empowers residents to engage and act. To learn more about the Better Government Association, please visit


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