Chicago Magazine Names 2015’s Chicagoans of the Year

The list includes an area hip hop star, an executive, an activist against the city’s violence, a doctor and the founder of a nonprofit

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Chicago Magazine on Tuesday revealed its 2015 Chicagoans of the Year.

The list includes an area hip hop star, an executive, an activist against the city’s violence, a doctor and the founder of a nonprofit. It’s safe to say the five Chicagoans selected are doing great things to change more than just the city they live in and that’s undoubtedly the reason they were selected as honorees for the acclaimed title.

Here’s a look at this year's list:

1. Chance the Rapper
The 22-year-old hip hop star has performed with big name artists like Madonna and Justin Bieber and was most recently announced as a performer for the Dec. 12 episode of “Saturday Night Live.” He’s headlined major music events like Pitchfork and Lollapalooza and received praise from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his commitment to curbing violence in the city and mentor area youths.

2. Stacy Ratner
The cofounder of the Chicago Literacy Alliance is dedicated to fighting illiteracy in the city. She founded Open Books, an organization that sells donated used books to fund reading and writing programs for school kids. Most recently, she organized the opening of the West Loop’s Literacenter, a space for literary-focused nonprofits to gather.

3. Will Beiersdorf
The 51-year-old who served with the U.S. Navy in Guantanamo Bay, learned first-hand how hard it can be to return to a normal life after deployment. In 2003, he and his wife founded Salute Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans transition to civilian life by providing financial assistance, housing specially adapted for those with disabilities and access to therapeutic sports camps. He also, alongside head of the psychiatry department at Rush University Medical Center Mark Pollack, launched the Road Home Program in 2014, which treats veterans with military-related trauma, including posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

4. Sally Hazelgrove
The 53-year-old mother moved her family from Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood to the city’s Englewood neighborhood in 2010, putting herself and her children at the center of one of the city's most violence-stricken areas. It was there she discovered how she would devote her time to keeping the city’s children out of violence – boxing. Hazelgrove took lessons and eventually opened her own gym, named the Crushers Club. The club offers 200 children a place to go, even giving them rooms do homework and providing a makeshift recording studio. The program has since become an official partner for Cook County’s Detention Reduction Initiative.

5. Prerna Mona Khanna
The 50-year-old physician and Emmy-winning health reporter has consistently lent her medical services to those in the midst of a crisis. She's traveled to Nepal to aid those wounded in a massive earthquake, delivered a baby in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak and mended those wounded in an earthquake in Haiti. The now freelance medical consultant and primary care physician has been recognized for her efforts, receiving the 2015 Humanitarian Excellence Award from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and was even hired by United Airlines to treat employees at the O’Hare clinic and screen passengers returning from West Africa. 

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