City leaders, judges and C-suite-level executives are among the Chicago-based alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities raising awareness and attendance for their alma mater ahead of the annual Chicago Football Classic at Soldier Field.
The game itself, known as "the battle of the HUs," matches up Hampton and Howard universities on Sept. 14, fueling a rivalry born in 1908. The two schools competed in the same conference for almost a century before Hampton became a member of the Big South Conference last year.
It all leads up to the 22nd annual game played on Chicago Bears turf "where the world will find out who's the real HU."
Amid the competition, game organizers and school alums from both schools remain clear about the true theme of the match: "It's more than just a game." It spotlights the Chicago Football Classic Scholarship Fund.
"The purpose of the CFC Scholarship Fund is to support the educational goals of disadvantaged youth and ensure that those deserving scholars are not deprived of the opportunity to receive a higher education from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)," organizers said in a statement.
The mission of the fund echoes the intent of former HBCU students whose impressive careers reflect the foundation of the schools' heritage, curriculum and student support.
Here's a look at some of the Chicago-based alumni backing the program:
Shannon Andrews, Chief Procurement Officer, City of Chicago
Curtis McKinney, Project Coordinator, City of Chicago
Leslie Anderson, US & International Head of Workplace, BMO Harris
Gyata Kimmons, CEO, Ridge Strategy Group
Bertina Power, President, Queen B Consulting
Christopher Stinson, Asst. Director of Procurement, Chicago Housing Authority
Nikki Butler, Cultural Affairs Coordinator, DCASE
Kevin Slaughter, Partner Levenfeld Pearlston, LLC
Denean Pillar-Jackson, Account Director, Year UP
Kara Holloway, Asst. to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, University of Illinois -Chicago
Honorable Sharon O. Johnson, Judge, Illinois Circuit Court
Dorval Carter, President, Chicago Transit Authority
DeShanaForney, Senior Director-Government & Community Relations, Peoples Gas
Honorable Roland Burris, Former US Senator/Illinois Comptroller
Clayton Harris, Deputy Director, Illinois Port Authority
Al Dinwiddie, Vice President, Loop Capital
Jerome Gay, Asst. Business Mgr., City Colleges of Chicago
Dortricia Penn, Asst. Corp Counsel, City of Chicago Dept. of Law
Melanie Patrick Neely, Asst. Corp. Counsel, City of Chicago Dept. of Law
Eric Smith, Regional President, Fifth Third Bank
Lisa Pope, Vice President, Sr. Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management