From the 12th Floor window of her LaSalle Street office, Angela (Angie) Hickey, Executive Director of the Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC law firm sees one of the most vibrant intersections in the heart of Chicago. It is a fast-paced scene of global commerce and civic activity, one in which she is happily immersed. However, as a member of the Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities, Angie also makes another connection as she looks out the glass. She says to a visitor, “See right down LaSalle Street? I can see the Catholic Charities building from here. 721 N. LaSalle. It’s another opportunity to keep me grounded.”
The words “giving” and “opportunity” come up often when speaking with Angie, who has been a member of the Catholic Charities Board of Advisors since 2008. She has served on the Board of Directors and as the Chair of the Southwest Regional Advisory Board and the Family Parish and Support Services Board. She has travelled numerous times with Catholic Charities executives to Springfield to participate in Advocacy Days, supporting legislative issues that affect Catholic Charities and its clients.
This is, of course in addition to her duties at LP, where she oversees all of the LP financial and operational functions, including business development, marketing, human resources and technology. She also is responsible for the strategic development and execution of the firm-wide business plan at LP.
Angie is nationally recognized in legal and business circles for her innovative approach to management. However, Angie also is increasingly acknowledged for her ability to effectively integrate her executive skills with her love for volunteering, continuously uniting people from various facets of her life in programs that directly help others.
Spreading The Word
The Catholic Charities Board of Advisors is comprised of over 630 members and is responsible for advising and sustaining Catholic Charities. Board members have the opportunity to match their talents and contributions to programs of special interest to themselves. Angie’s dedication to this Board is so profound and genuine that she has filled her office with (currently) twenty framed, photographic prints that she has purchased from numerous years of attending the annual Catholic Charities After Supper Visions photo exhibition. As Kathy Donahue, Catholic Charities Senior Vice-President says, “The After Supper Visions photography is outstanding and Angie’s office art is a testament to that.”
Angie agrees, saying, “The photos are an opportunity for me to share the Visions story with everyone that comes into my office, because it’s noticeable. People ask, ‘Where did you get all of these pictures?’ I always use the stickers that come with the photos, noting the name of the artist and the name of the photo. It’s beautiful. It’s nice to look at every day. I work at a law firm. Whenever I get frustrated, I’ll come in here and this reminds me to be humble. This reminds me about why I am doing this. So it’s a calling for me. It keeps me grounded. And it’s an opportunity for me to share what Catholic Charities does with everyone who comes in my office.”
She further explains, “I became involved with Catholic Charities because of my passion for their programs that address emergency needs, basic human needs. That’s what first drew me to the Family Parish & Support Services Board. I live in Oak Lawn and so I got involved in the Southwest Region so I could be involved where I live in my personal community. I like doing volunteer work. I had done a lot of it at St. Gerald’s, my parish as my children went to St. Gerald’s School. I wanted to leverage that passion for volunteer work on a larger platform and that attracted me to Catholic Charities. All along I have tried to teach my kids about volunteerism, so they have volunteered with me. They are older now, but they still do it when they can. It’s been a great opportunity for me to instill these values in my children.”
“So I work on the Board for Catholic Charities, but one of the other things that I do is lead supper programs at St. Blasé every other month. I’ve been doing that for many years, in collaboration with the St. Vincent DePaul Society of St. Gerald’s Parish. I like to do it. Having the personal interaction with the clients who are directly served is what fulfills me. This is also one of the reasons why I like the Visions event so much. I’ve been going to the annual ASV exhibit ever since I have been on the Board. I found about it from Fr. Wayne Watts who is on the Parish Advisory Council. I think I missed one year, but I still ordered photos online that year. I bring guests with me, introducing other people who are not involved with Catholic Charities. It really is a way to spread the awareness of what Catholic Charities does, which is what we are supposed to do as Board Members, and really have that personal connection. Legislative work is important but it gets onerous if all you do is navigate the system. It recharges me to have that personal connection, with the guests at the supper program at St. Blasé, and with the guests at the Visions program. You get to talk to them. At Visions, the artists tell you where they were when they took that picture, and how they felt and what they really want you to see. It’s humbling and it keeps me going. In Board meetings, people can get frustrated sometimes, thinking, ‘What’s the point? Springfield is not responding.’ But when you speak with the guests, you are reminded. THIS is the point.”
Reaching Out Further
Angie invites her colleagues from LP to join her at the exhibit. One of them, Andrea Maciejewski, Director of Client Development at LP, now attends annually, too with her children. Catholic Charities is most grateful for the dedication of annual attendees like Angie and Andrea. As Kathy Donahue says, “When Angie and Andrea come to the annual Photo Exhibition they are equally enthusiastic in appreciating the art and the supper guests’ presentations. The two of them have infectious, positive energy. They are both very interested in the lives of the artists as well as the photos produced. It is an opportunity to be part of the mission of uplifting people who otherwise are often ignored. Year after year I think they come because they enjoy it and we enjoy them.”
Angie likes that Catholic Charities offers a wide variety of events for supporters to attend. “In my opinion,” she says, “our job, as Board members is to raise awareness and raise money. Last year my firm sponsored a table at the Catholic Charities St. Nicholas Ball, in addition to the table that we have sponsored for years at the Helping Hands Dinner of the Southwest Region. What I really like about the Visions photo exhibit is that it is more casual, more affordable. It’s another opportunity to raise awareness each year. From this event I have been able to peak interest that has bridged to my nomination of other members to join Catholic Charities.”
Angie continues, “I try to integrate everything – my personal network with my work network, with my parish, with volunteer work. It took a couple of years for me being at Catholic Charities for me to understand where I could be most effective. Once I did, it was easy for me to bridge the network and leverage my understanding of the programs to try to help Catholic Charities and its clients.”
The Impact of Network Integration
Angie’s ideas about network integration were also key components of the creation of LP’s CSR program over a decade ago. This initiative, unique among law firms has been recognized nationally for its comprehensive approach to encouraging employees to collaborate on meaningful goals with contacts from all aspects of their lives. Angie says, “A lot of companies have a CSR program to give back to the community. I helped developed this program at LP. It is directly tied to our revenue. In the same way I try to integrate my personal network, I encourage our people at LP to get involved with Boards and have an impact in the community. Employees can choose programs that the firm partners with or ones they are passionate about. It is based on the philosophy, ‘Lead Where You Are,’ or look for opportunities to make an impact wherever you are. It is about employees using their position to make a difference by integrating the inner circle of their lives with the broader circle of their careers. We are conscious of the need to give back and we think this is a unique, effective way to instill this in the culture of our firm. It is an important part of our employee retention and our clients find this very appealing, too.”
Angie hopes more Catholic Charities Board members see the impact that making connections can have. She says, “I’m involved tangentially with another program, through the Southwest Region of Catholic Charities and St. Gerald’s Parish. It’s called the New Hope Apartments Program. We donate Christmas presents to every single family member in the apartments and we have a Breakfast with Santa for the families. Here is another example of the good that can happen when more people are involved. The Holy Name Society, or the Men’s Club of St. Gerald’s generously sponsors, pays for and serves the breakfast. In fact, St. Gerald Parish received the Parish Partner Award from Catholic Charities last year, at the Southwest Regional Helping Hands Annual Gala, for the many ways like this that their parishioners give back to the community.”
She continues, “More people are aware of Catholic Charities through this type of extension. I try to combine my connection to the parish with my connection to Catholic Charities. It’s not just about giving money, although that is really important. It’s about using every opportunity to create more awareness and get more people involved in the work of Catholic Charities through all of networks you have. I try to encourage that in the Boards that I am on.”
Angie’s passion and sincerity on this subject has clearly resonated with her LP colleagues. This past Christmas, Angie’s team wanted to choose a gift for her that would honor Angie’s commitment to service and the ASV program. Andrea called Catholic Charities Project Director Katie Tuten for ideas. Katie mentioned that Catholic Charities was receiving a donation of fifty repurposed IPhones. These IPhones were going to be given to ASV artists for them to use the camera capabilities on the phone to take pictures for the photo exhibition in June. Katie shared with Andrea that the IPhones were a wonderful donation, but they needed charges to go with them to make them usable by the artists. Andrea thought it was a perfect fit, to donate fifty chargers.
Angie’s team, comprised of Andrea, Shelly Leonida, Kevin Corrigan and Jeremy Gresham, wrote a Christmas letter to Angie that read, in part, “We have learned, and continue to learn, so much from you as our leader, colleague, coach and friend. While the business skills are necessary and essential to our own professional growth, so are the being-a-good-human values you instill in us. One of these is the spirit of service and generosity.” In describing the group’s gift to Angie, the letter went on to say, “It turns out chargers are just as valuable as phones and our request to honor you came at the same time that Catholic Charities had a specific need. #divineintervention”
Catholic Charities Chicago Celebrates 100 Years Providing Hope
Angie has great admiration for Catholic Charities as it begins a year-long celebration of 100 years serving those in need in Chicago. She says, “Until I joined the Board of Catholic Charities, I didn’t’ realize how intertwined the history of Catholic Charities is, with the history of Chicago. There are deep connections. It’s really a fascinating story in history, of the founders of Chicago being the same people who founded Catholic Charities. The part I love is that they recognized from the very beginning that we have to take care of everyone. We can’t leave anyone behind. I’m not sure that people embrace that so much anymore.”
As ASV also celebrates a milestone this year, planning its 15th photo exhibition in June, Angie plans to be there once again. She says, “At the annual exhibit, I try not to patronize the same artists each year. Some of the artists are very talented, but I have to remind myself that I am there to support all of the photographers. The Visions program definitely has grown. It is always inspiring to see the excitement as the artists share with each other. More experienced ones do take the new artists under their wing. I like that.”
Kathy Donahue agrees. She says, “Many of the art lovers who come to the exhibition are professional photographers who are astounded at the quality of the work. People who live in the street know about perfect lighting and capturing beauty at the right time of sunrise or sunset or iconic city sites. We have had many corporations purchase art for their respective offices. Prices are competitive to commercial art pricing for office spaces but this comes with the added-value of knowing you are changing a life with the purchase. We can prepare the art in any size, on canvas or framed.”
Angie adds, “Plus, I use the Visions Note Cards and Christmas Cards all of the time. That’s another opportunity to share the story of Catholic Charities.”
ASV Photo Team members join in expressing their tremendous gratitude to Angie and her colleagues for their remarkable generosity to and support of ASV and it artists. They welcome the opportunity to speak to all corporate sponsors who may like to purchase prints taken by ASV artists for use in their office and/or home décor. Contact Katie Tuten at email@example.com.