The 2013 Women of Concern Awards Luncheon Honors Two Extraordinary Women and their Outstanding Accomplishments

concernConcern Worldwide hosts its annual Women of Concern Awards Luncheon on Friday, February 22, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, 200 North Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL.  The event, now in its 15th year, honors women who have demonstrated the qualities of justice, generosity and compassion in their work and daily lives.  The 2013 Women of Concern Awards will be presented to Mari Gallagher, Principal of Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting, and Shirley Welsh Ryan, Co-Founder of Pathways Center.  The event will recognize their significant accomplishments and exceptional achievements.  The funds raised by the luncheon will support Concern’s most needed programs in 25 developing countries.  Annually, more than 600 guests attend the event.  The co-chairs of the event are Cherryl Thomas and Peg Lombardo, who are both residents of Chicago.

Women of Concern Leadership Award:
Mari Gallagher, Principal, Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting

Mari Gallagher is principal of Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, a nationally-known firm whose expertise includes quantitative and qualitative research projects; retail and housing market assessments; financial services, community development; the economy; public health; immigration; program evaluation and other content areas.  Mari is the author of Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago, a breakthrough study which popularized the term “food desert” across the country. She was the first to develop a block-by-block metric for “food deserts” and “food balance” linked with health measures and has since done similar work in Detroit, rural Michigan, Louisville, Harlem, Richmond, and other areas.  Mari’s research shows that residents of food deserts die prematurely more than they would otherwise from diet-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The term “food desert” has been entered into the Farm Bill and several members of Congress, the USDA and others have called for a national public hearing this October and continued research on food deserts.  During the past 20 years, Mari has enjoyed a colorful career. As the former executive director of a community development corporation, she led the co-development of a $75 million shopping center which included a full-service grocery store. She was the president of a technology company. Mari also is the founding president of the newly-formed National Center for Public Research, based in Chicago. NCPR is a nonprofit entity dedicated to providing meaningful and unbiased data and information to improve quality of life, quality of health, and financial wellbeing for all people and communities. Mari founded this new group to ensure that research on food deserts and other types of social phenomena continue for the public good.
Women of Concern Humanitarian Award:
Shirley Welsh Ryan, Co-Founder, Pathways Center

Shirley Welsh Ryan is a long-time advocate for persons with physical and sensory issues.  With expert knowledge and counsel, she has co-created and inspired Pathways Center (1985), a best-practices outpatient treatment center for infants and children, to unlock their physical and sensory movement abilities.  She has been appointed by two United States Presidents to the National Council on Disability in Washington, and served for nine years on the council, which advises the President and Congress on issues of disability.  She has served as chair and executive committee member of the Chicago Community Trust and serves on its Committee for Persons with Disabilities Fund.  Shirley holds board of trustees or executive committee positions which include Notre Dame University, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Alain Locke Charter Academy in Chicago, the Foundation of Education, and WTTW.  For her deep commitment and passion which empowers her to action, Shirley has received multiple awards, including the Northwestern University Service Award, the Harvard Club of Chicago Statesman of the Year Award, and the Kids Count Award from Voices of Illinois Children.

Concern Worldwide is a non-governmental, international humanitarian relief organization dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. With a team of more than 3,200 highly skilled and committed workers, Concern focuses on the root causes and key drivers of poverty in each of the 25 countries in which it works.  Diverse funding from private and government donors give Concern the independence and flexibility to respond rapidly to a crisis and where needed most.  Concern implements programs in the areas of emergencies, livelihoods, health, HIV and AIDS, and education. Concern is committed to reaching the poorest and most vulnerable, and to working in partnership with local organizations and people in their own communities to develop practical and lasting solutions to extreme poverty.

Concern Worldwide’s annual Women of Concern Awards Luncheon will be held on Friday, February 22, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, 200 North Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL 60601.  For tickets, phone (312) 431- 8400 or visit