CBF History

With thousands of veterans having recently returned from World War II and O’Hare Airport soon to open, the Chicago area in 1948 was about to embark on an era of unprecedented growth. It was then that a small but prominent group of lawyer members of the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) came together united in the belief that by pooling their charitable efforts, the members of the Association collectively could make substantial improvements for both their profession and their community. Their vision soon became The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF), which over the past 60+ years has evolved into a major charitable force in the community focused on improving access to justice for people in need.

Former CBF Board President Tom Morsch wrote an excellent history of the CBF’s first fifty years in the CBA’s 125th Anniversary publication in 1998, and more recently the CBF followed that up with a ten year retrospective during our 60th anniversary year. The CBF has continued to build on all of our earlier successes to be an even greater force for good today.

Past CBF Presidents

2020 Steven A. Weiss
2019 Carrie J. Di Santo
2018 Terrence J. Dee
2017 Charles F. Smith
2016 Allegra R. Nethery
2015 Jesse H. Ruiz
2014 William F. Conlon
2013 Natalie J. Spears
2012 Kaarina Salovaara
2011 Stephen R. Patton
2010 Sally McDonald
2009 Christina Tchen
2008 Thomas Z. Hayward, Jr.
2006-2007 Kimball Anderson
2004-2005 Jeffrey Colman
2002-2003 Eileen M. Letts
2000-2001 Leonard Schrager
1998-1999 Bruce D. Becker
1996-1997 Thomas H. Morsch
1994-1995 Howard M. McCue, II
1992-1993 R. Thomas Howell, Jr.
1990-1991 J. William Elwin, Jr.
1988-1989 Jack M. Greenberg
1986-1987 Esther R. Rothstein
1984-1985 Kenneth C. Prince
1983-1984 Richard William Austin
1981-1982 George Kelm
1979-1980 C. Harker Rhodes, Jr.
1976-1978 George W. Overton
1974-1975 John L. Malone
1972-1973 Russell Bundesen
1969-1971 Thomas J. Boodell, Sr.
1967-1968 E. Douglas Schwantes
1966-1967 Len Young Smith
1965-1966 Willis D. Nance
1960-1964 Richard Bentley
1959-1960 Edward H. McDermott
1948-1958 Lawrence C. Mills

Life Fellows

Established in 1963, the CBF Life Fellows program was designed to give lawyers and other dedicated individuals a philanthropic way to advance the CBF mission. More than 700 CBF Life Fellows answered that call over the next 50+ years and played a critical role in the CBF’s history, providing leadership and foundational support for initiatives that continue to make improvements in access to justice in our community today.

The CBF Life Fellows program was retired in 2016 as part of the launch of the CBF Justice Society. The CBF continues to honor our Life Fellows for their significant and lasting contributions to the CBF and the many thousands of people in our community who have been helped through the CBF’s work.

Abraham Lincoln Circle of Justice

When the CBF Justice Society was created in 2016, the existing CBF Lincoln Circle became part of the new program going forward. The upper tiers of the Justice Society now represent the Lincoln Circle and the high level of commitment that these donors have made to drive systemic improvements in access to justice.

Currently, only donors with active pledge commitments are recognized on the Justice Society donor list. All Lincoln Circle donors who made gifts prior to the creation of the Justice Society are considered founding members. The CBF is grateful for the crucial financial investment of all Lincoln Circle members in launching the program and appreciates their instrumental leadership in moving toward a better and fairer justice system.