Northlight Theatre announces its 2019 Gala Honorees

by Northlight Theatre

Northlight Theatre’s Board of Trustees announce the Theatre’s premier fundraising event, “Setting the Stage,” Saturday, November 2, 2019, 6:00pm, Michigan Shores Club, 911 Michigan Ave., Wilmette

The evening celebrates Northlight’s commitment to providing intensely entertaining theatre –and so much more–to the community. Northlight distinguishes itself in the landscape of Chicago theatre through its compelling and compassionate work on stage and innovative and impactful work off-stage, including dynamic education and community engagement programs.

The Gala features Chicago-based entertainer and producer Michael Ingersoll as the Master of Ceremonies and musical entertainment by The Flat Cats. The evening includes a cocktail hour, seated dinner, live and silent auctions filled with unique and priceless activities and excursions, and dancing to live music throughout the evening. The Gala chairs are Julie Chernoff and Susie McMonagle, both of Evanston.

The theatre will honor Evanstonian Jay Lytle with the Leadership Award and State Senator Laura Fine, State Representative Robyn Gabel and State Representative Jennifer Gong Gershowitz with the Speak Up! Award.

Jay Lytle (Leadership Award) is a native of Evanston who has lived his life in service to the community.  After a long career in banking he co-founded Evanston-First Bank and Trust (now Byline Bank) in 1995. The bank, grew to over $1 billion in assets under Jay’s leadership as a Managing Director and Chief Lending Officer. Jay is a true public servant serving first as an Evanston alderman and then Mayor for 12 years from 1977-1985. He has served on Committees, Boards and Advisory Boards at more than two dozen non-profit organizations, and currently volunteers at eight non-profits including as a member of Northlight’s Advisory Council. Jay has received numerous honors and awards and Northlight is pleased to recognize him as an advocate for our community and Northlight Theatre.

State Senator Laura Fine, State Representative Robyn Gabel and State Representative Jennifer Gong Gershowitz (Speak Up! Award) serve Northlight’s north suburban area.  These strong representatives recently helped Northlight set the stage for our move to Evanston in 2021 by advocating for a nearly $1M state allocation to make Northlight’s dream of a new theater home a reality. Laura Fine began her first full term as the State Senator of the 9th District in 2019. She was previously the state representative for the 17th District.  Robyn Gabel has represented the people of the 18th District since 2010, and currently serves as the Chair of Appropriations of the Human Services Committee. Jennifer Gong Gershowitz is a human rights attorney who joined the State Senate in January 2019 representing the people of the 17th District. Northlight honors these women for their leadership and advocacy on behalf of Northlight Theatre.

The Leadership Award recognizes those individuals who have been extraordinary champions of Northlight Theatre. Outstanding leadership may be demonstrated in a variety of ways and impacts all aspects of the theatre including our Interplay new play development program, arts education initiatives, audience and community engagement efforts, endowment program and main stage productions.

The Speak Up! Award is rooted in Northlight’s Speak Up! theatre for social change program — an initiative for middle and high school students throughout the Chicago area. Northlight’s fastest growing arts education program, Speak Up!, brings a custom-designed residency program to increase students’ participation in the arts by making theatre accessible while building creativity, reflection, confidence, and collaboration skills. Topics that have been addressed by students participating in Speak Up! include bullying, gang violence, police brutality, role models, and stereotyping.