Concern Worldwide U.S. Honors Shirley Welsh Ryan, Advocate for Persons with Physical and Sensory Issues, and Mari Gallagher, Food Desert Specialist, at 15th Annual Women of Concern Luncheon

image009Concern Worldwide U.S., the international humanitarian organization, will recognize Shirley Welsh Ryan, Co-Founder of, and Mari Gallagher, Principal of Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, for their outstanding humanitarian and philanthropic leadership at its Women of Concern Award Luncheon in Chicago on February 22.

“Shirley Welsh Ryan and Mari Gallagher are not only pioneers in their respective fields—they are inspirations for positive change,” said Joseph Cahalan, CEO of Concern Worldwide U.S. “Their compassion and commitment to bringing equal access to healthy food choices and helping children with special challenges reach their full potential have undoubtedly touched and transformed the lives of thousands of people.”

Shirley Welsh Ryan is a nationally recognized advocate for the gift of early detection of children’s physical, sensory and communication issues, and for the hope of early intervention and prevention.    In 1985, she co-founded and has chaired Pathways Clinic, an outpatient pediatric facility.  In 1996, she founded the website, which illustrates children’s abilities and informs parents and professionals.  Shirley has been appointed by two United States Presidents to the National Council on Disability in Washington D.C., which advises Congress on issues of disability.

Mari Gallagher has dedicated her professional career to collecting and analyzing data for public good. She is perhaps best-known for her work identifying and tackling the issue of food deserts—areas where nutritious and fresh foods are scarcely available—in the United States. She is the author of “Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago,” a breakthrough study that popularized the term “food desert” in the United States, and was the first person to develop a metric for  measuring food-type availability block-by-block.

The women will join past honorees of the Chicago Women of Concern Award Luncheon such as Catherine Bertini, Samantha Power, Mary Dempsey, Avis LaVelle, Justice Anne Burke, Aimee Mullins, and Mary Houghton.

Phil Ponce, host of Chicago Tonight on WTTW11 will emcee the event. The Chicago Women of Concern Award Luncheon honors women who have demonstrated the qualities of justice, generosity, and compassion in their work and daily lives. To purchase tickets, please visit or call (312) 431-8400. Funds raised through the event will support Concern’s work to break the cycle of extreme poverty in 25 of the world’s poorest countries. Follow #ConcernWomen and @Concern on Twitter for more information and live update from the ceremony.

About Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide is an international, non-governmental humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing extreme poverty, with more than 3,200 personnel working in 25 of the world’s poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Concern Worldwide targets the root causes of extreme poverty through programs in health, education, livelihoods and microfinance, HIV and AIDS, and emergency response, directly reaching more than 8.5 million people. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.