Press Release

29th Public Humanities Award Luncheon This May, To Honor Lisa Lee

CHICAGO, IL- April 18, 2013The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will be honoring Lisa Lee, Director of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with the 2013 Public Humanities Award at the IHC’s annual benefit luncheon on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.  

Given annually by the IHC since 1984, the Public Humanities Award recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to public understanding of the role the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.  Past awardees have included Jack Wing, Chairman Emeritus of the Chicago Corporation; Carlos Tortolero, Founder and Executive Director of the National Museum of Mexican Art; Mary Dempsey, Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library; and The Honorable Abner and Zoe Mikva. Last year’s recipients were publisher Bruce Sagan and activist and artist Bette Cerf Hill.

Lisa Yun Lee is the Director of the newly organized School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and also a member of their Art History faculty. Most recently, she was the former Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, where in her seven years she was able to develop inventive and relevant programming that increased funding, attendance and prominence to the museum, culminating with a National Preservation Award in 2012. 

In 2000, Lisa co-founded The Public Square, which in 2004 became a program of the Illinois Humanities Council. The program is dedicated to creating spaces in Chicago for debate and dialogue around local issues dealing with social justice.

“Lisa’s passion for creating spaces for open dialogue and encouraging public forms of expression has had a tremendous impact both on our organization and Chicago in general,” mentioned Kristina Valaitis, Executive Director of the Illinois Humanities Council. “We are proud to be honoring her work and including her name along with the many remarkable recipients of this award.”   

In addition, she has also published a book on Frankfurt School philosopher Theodor Adorno, and researches and writes about museums and diversity, cultural and environmental sustainability, and as spaces for fostering radically democratic practices. She is currently working on a cookbook that addresses contemporary food justice issues with Hull-House history and questions of immigration and democracy.  

Lisa received her BA in Religion from Bryn Mawr College, and a Ph.D in German Studies from Duke University. She also serves on the boards of the National Public Housing Museum, Young Chicago Authors, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Third Coast International Audio Festival, and the Ms. Magazine Advisory Board.

This year’s Co-Chairs are Theaster Gates, Artist and Director of the Arts and Public Life Initiative at the University of Chicago; Barbara Ransby, Writer and Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago.; Dedrea Gray, activist and philanthropist; and IHC Board Member Roger Taylor.    

The Public Humanities Award Luncheon will take place Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at the Palmer House Hilton Chicago (17 E. Monroe Street) in Chicago, Illinois. Doors open at 11:30am with the program beginning at noon. For individual reservations and sponsorship opportunities, including the purchase of tables, please call Monika Collins at 312.422.5580 or visit All proceeds from the luncheon will support the Illinois Humanities Council. 

About the Illinois Humanities Council 
The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. The IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.  

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233 

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