Event Detail

December 9, 2021: Grace B. Hou to Receive Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award presented by the Civic Federation

Event on December 09, 2021


The Civic Federation is pleased to announce that Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) GRACE B. HOU is the recipient of the 30th Annual Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award, presented and administered by the Civic Federation.

The Excellence in Public Service Award is an annual recognition of a non-elected government official who has had an extraordinary impact on the quality of state or local government services in Illinois.

This year's hybrid event will be held December 9, 2021. Proof of COVID vaccination will be required for all in-person attendees. Masks will be required when not eating or drinking. Unvaccinated or immunocompromised guests are encouraged to attend the event via concurrent livestream.

Update (December 9, 2021): WATCH THE FULL 2021 EVENT HERE!

Healthcare workers, first responders and government employees receive complimentary registration.


Grace B. Hou has served under Governor JB Pritzker as the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) since March 2019. The mission of IDHS is to strengthen Illinois by building up lives and communities which is achieved through an integrated network of mental health, substance use prevention and recovery, rehabilitation, developmental disabilities and family and community services. IDHS operates seven psychiatric hospitals, seven developmental centers, one treatment and detention facility for sexually violent persons, 76 local offices and four schools.

Grace also previously served as the Assistant Secretary at IDHS from 2003 to 2012, and, during that time, she was an architect of Illinois’ Immigrant Integration New American’s Gubernatorial Executive Order which was nationally recognized.

Grace has dedicated her career to advancing social justice by working in the non-profit and public sectors systems for change improvement through public policy development and implementation, social services provision, community organizing and engagement, and philanthropy. Grace most recently served as the President of Woods Fund Chicago from February 2012 to March 2019. Woods Fund Chicago is a bold grantmaking foundation that finds–and funds–projects that draw on the power of communities to fight the brutality of poverty and structural racism.

Early in her career, she was the Executive Director of the Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA) and has been a vocal advocate for immigrants’ rights. Grace is a child of immigrants from Taiwan and has lived and worked in Illinois since she was eight years old. She studied at the University of Illinois and has two teenage sons. She is the board chair of the Healthy Communities Foundation, a 2001 Leadership Greater Chicago fellow, a member of The Chicago Network and The Commercial Club, and a German Marshall fellow.


  • 8:00 a.m. - Coffee Reception
  • 8:30 a.m. - Opening remarks and welcome
    • Salutation address by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker
    • Special remarks and presentation of the award by Cynthia Yazdi, Motorola Solutions
    • Video tribute to Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services Grace B. Hou followed by Secretary Hou's remarks
  • 9:00 a.m. - Closing remarks and plated breakfast service







Advisory Committee

Honorary Co-Chairs

    Lori Healey 

    Daniel E. Leary

    Thomas Livingston

    Pam McDonough

    Eileen Mitchell

    Ashli Nelson

    Donovan W. Pepper

    Margaret Houlihan Smith

   Hon. JB Pritzker

   Hon. Lori E. Lightfoot

   Hon. Toni Preckwinkle

   Rosemarie S. Andolino

   Dr. Allison Arwady

   Dorval R. Carter, Jr.

   Rocco Claps

   Arne Duncan

   Hon. Judy Erwin

   Dr. Ngozi Ezike

   Hon. Julie Hamos

   Lori Healey

   William Holland

   Ron Huberman

   Shirley Madigan

   Jess McDonald

   Pam McDonough

   Karin M. Norington-Reaves

   Arnold Randall

   Karen Tamley


2020    Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director, Illinois Department of Public Health and Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health

2019    Dorval Carter, President, Chicago Transit Authority

2018   Jamie Rhee, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation

2017   Arnold Randall, General Superintendent, Cook County Forest Preserve District

2016   Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

2015   Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities

2014   Rocco Claps, Director, Illinois Department of Human Rights

2013   Rosemarie S. Andolino, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation

2012   Julie Hamos, Director, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

2011   Margaret C. Daley, Former First Lady, City of Chicago

2010   James R. Reilly, Trustee, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority

2009   Judy Erwin, Executive Director, Illinois Board of Higher Education

2008   Arne Duncan, CEO, Chicago Public Schools

2007   Ron Huberman, President, Chicago Transit Authority

2006   Lori Healey, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Planning and Development

2005   Shirley Madigan, Chair, Illinois Arts Council

2004   Terry Peterson, CEO, Chicago Housing Authority

2003   James Joyce, Commissioner, Chicago Fire Department

2002   Pam McDonough, Director, Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs

2001   William Holland, Auditor General, State of Illinois

2000   Mary Dempsey, Commissioner, Chicago Public Library
           Audrey McCrimon, Assistant to Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

1999   Lois Weisberg, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs

1998   Paul Vallas, CEO, Chicago Public Schools

1997   Jess McDonald, Director, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

1996   Richard Wagner, Director, Illinois Board of Higher Education

1995   Robert Belcaster, Chairman, Chicago Transit Authority

1994   Ruth Rothstein, Director, Cook County Hospital

1993   Mary Decker Laraia, Director, Cook County Capital Planning

1992   Sister Sheila Lyne, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Health