A Top Chef contestant, a corporate reputation manager, an artist, and several others received unanimous appointments to the Cultural Advisory Council Tuesday — a brief moment of levity for some aldermen who were set to vote on the unpopular property tax hike within the hour.

Attendance (7/20 members): Chair Tom Tunney (44), Brian Hopkins (2), Marty Quinn (13), Michael Scott Jr. (24), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Michele Smith (43), Deb Silverstein (50)

Start time: 12:01

The property tax vote slated for Finance Committee overshadowed Tuesday’s Special Events Committee meeting. Staffers had to pull aldermen out of the Council Chambers to vote on the appointments in a separate room, but they still failed to reach a quorum. The small number of aldermen who did attend seemed grateful they could take a non-controversial vote. “There are lots of depressing days in city government,” Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) told appointees, saying he chose to serve on Special Events to vote for fun, uplifting projects and appointments.

The group unanimously approved 8 new appointments and 7 reappointments to the city’s Cultural Affairs and Special Events Advisory Council. They will serve for 2 years on the 30-member Council, which advises the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).

New appointments (more details in yesterday’s report):

  • Jeff Alexander, President/CEO, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

  • Marshall Brown, Architect and Principal, Marshall Brown Projects

  • Graham Elliot, Chef and Owner, Graham Elliot Bistro in the West Loop

  • Carlos Hernandez, Executive Director, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance

  • Heather Ireland Robinson, Executive Director, Beverly Arts Center

  • Amanda Williams, Artist, AW | Gallery

  • David Woolwine, Director of Reputation, Community Engagement and Public Affairs at Allstate


  • Nora Daley (Chair), Executive Advisor, Metropolis Strategies. Daughter of Mayor Richard M. Daley and board chair of Steppenwolf Theater. Council member since 2011.

  • Carol L. Adams, Retired CEO, The DuSable Museum. Adams was also chief of the Illinois Department of Human Services, director of the Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University; director of resident services and programs at the Chicago Housing Authority; and director of African American Studies at Loyola. Council member since 2011.

  • Antonia J. Contro, Executive Director, Marwen, who also served on Mayor Emanuel’s Arts Transition Team, is on the Boards of the Strategic National Art Alumni Project and the Streb Dance Company. Prior to her 20 years at Marwen, Antonia was the Associate Director of Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago. Council member since 2011.

  • Theaster Gates, Jr., Artist and Founder, Rebuild Foundation. Gates and Mayor Emanuel’s hopes for turning around abandoned South Side buildings were chronicled in a Sun-Times profile. Council member since 2011.

  • Marjorie S. Halperin, President, Marj Halperin Consulting. Former press aide to CPS Superintendent Ted Kimbrough, deputy press secretary for Mayor Richard M. Daley,  communications manager for then-Illinois Treasurer Pat Quinn and the Chicago Park District, and City Hall reporter at WXRT.  Council member since 2011.

  • Ra O. Joy, Executive Director, Illinois Arts Alliance. Former Deputy Director/Grants Coordinator for U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, and appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to launch the State of Illinois’ Creative Economy Initiative. Council member since 2011.

  • Michael P. Thornton, Actor, Artistic director and Co-Founder, The Gift Theatre who came up in Chicago’s improv scene at iO, Annoyance Theater, and Second City. Council member since 2011.

  • Angel M. Ysaguirre, Executive Director, The Illinois Humanities Council, former deputy commissioner at DCASE and current Program Officer at McCormick Tribune Foundation. Council member since 2011.

The appointments and reappointments will be brought to a vote in today’s Council meeting.