Posted on Mar 24, 2015
President’s Perspective: Brian McIlwee Brian McIlwee receiving his CFBC Leadership Award from Burt Klein, CFBC President 2012-2013

CFBC President 2011-2012

My year as President was 2011-12. However, the foundation for a lot of the work we accomplished that year began a year earlier in 2010. That year I began to quietly inquire with other universities about the possibility of moving away from UIC. 2010 also happened to be the bottom of the housing bubble crisis and my family’s business volume had been cut in half. Bottom line is I had a lot of free time on my hands. CFBC truly gave me something to look forward to every day other than the daily news of our declining housing industry. I was fortunate enough to be the last President of FBC and initiated a new heritage as first President of CFBC.

My favorite moment had to be the Board of Directors meeting we held to dissolve the UIC Family Business Council and vote to inaugurate the Chicago Family Business Council at DePaul. We had Jim Liatuad, our founder, and Dean Whittington from DePaul sitting next to Dean Pagano from UIC. Passionate speeches were made by these key dignitaries. Dean Pagano was a true gentleman in a difficult situation and was impressive.  We had talked all year about this and were expecting a debate and perhaps a brawl and in the end, there was little debate and a lot of celebration.

My biggest take-away from that experience was studying emotional intelligence. I figured if I was going to lead a group of people who promoted something strongly, I should know more about it. A number of books later with lots of reading and I truly received a paradigm shift. I had a renewed outlook on dealing with the emotions that drive our relationships and daily activities with both family and associates. I got so much more out of this experience than CFBC got from me!  I made some lifelong friends and associations that will always remain special and close to my heart. And for all of that, I am convinced I am happier today than I was when I started the journey.

Lastly, my year of leadership was neatly wrapped up in the following poem I wrote as my outgoing speech to the group. It truly summarizes my feelings.


Adding a “C” to my FBC Year

As I began my presidency
It was with a level of fear
As I ventured into my FBC year.

For two years I studied the inner workings of FBC
Supporting the efforts of first Cari and then Art Lukowski
UIC was a model of mind boggling execution and red tape
We struggled with every department, resigned to our fate.
We were toiling harder and going nowhere faster
Working with the State of Illinois was simply a disaster.

We had 18 years of heritage and history
That we were successful and of benefit to all was no mystery
There were numerous bonds that kept us in line
But our relationships with UIC for years were on the decline.

Soon a beam of sunshine arrived to save our day.
Dean Whittington from DePaul proved to be our Ray.
And as my press secretary Mr. Friedman would so exquisitely say,
DePaul welcomed us with open arms and a crucifix today!

After 16 months of dialogue Chicago Family Business Council officially got underway
The officers, strategic partners, and members were all giddy and gay!
We were now independent and on mission
There’s no bureaucratic distractions to achieving our vision.

Protocol and training programs will continue to grow
Educational initiatives will make our members crow
Our time schedule for deadlines has been frequently tight
But hopefully we have learned, we have the time to do things right

We have completed a lot in 12 months of time
Caches of brilliance and achievement that will eventually shine!
Our governance and leadership has changed a plenty
We have great officers, strategic partners, and chairs who are guiding the many

Hard work was completed with a dedication to duty
This all would have been impossible if it wasn’t for Judy
However, in the end, this isn’t about Judy or me
It’s about what’s important to the CFBC!

Finally, our goals were accomplished with a lot of help and cheer!
WE ALL owe a lot of you HERE at the very least a beer
Especially to Art, Burt, John, Judy, Bob, Jeff, Diana, Mary, Mike, Lee, Big Jim,
Big Joe, Little Joe, Flano, Steve, Chris, Anton, Bruce, Cathy. . .Thank you.
Thank you for your help, support, and your insight to steer
For in the end, you all made it wonderful!
My CFBC year!

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