Our Next Event Will Be Fall 2015


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Flip through dozens of event photos of ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner with invited guests including The Honorable Ray LaHood, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride and many more.



Networking Reception
Join business, environmental, clean energy and transportation, political and policy leaders for networking over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Welcoming Remarks
Nancy C. Loeb, Outgoing ELPC Board Chair
David Wilhelm, Incoming ELPC Board Chair

Advancing Policy and Business Solutions for a Sustainable Future
Howard A. Learner, ELPC Executive Director

ELPC Leadership Award: The Honorable Ray LaHood, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation
ELPC is honoring Secretary LaHood for his leadership on advancing Midwest high-speed rail, clean car standards, innovative technologies and sustainable infrastructure investments for our nation.

During his extensive public service career, Mr. LaHood provided bipartisan leadership on advancing President Obama’s High-Speed Rail Vision for America – and the Midwest High-Speed Rail Network in particular – as well as achieving more stringent fuel efficiency requirements from automakers. He has been a passionate advocate for funding sustainable infrastructure projects that support improvements to our railways, highways and bridges.

Mr. LaHood served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation in President Obama’s cabinet from 2009-2013. He also served seven terms in Congress as the Republican representative from the 18th District of Illinois from 1995-2009. During that time, he served on both the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee as well as the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which controls the DOT’s budget, for several years.

Prior to his time in Washington, Mr. LaHood served one term in the Illinois State House, staffed Members of Congress, served in planning and youth services roles, and was a school teacher. He is a native of the Peoria, Ill., area, where he attended college at Bradley University and continues to reside with his wife, Kathy. The LaHoods raised four children and now enjoy their 11 grandchildren.

Since retiring from public service, Mr. LaHood has served as a senior policy advisor for the law firm DLA Piper.

Dessert Reception

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel 
Radisson-Blu-Aqua-Hotel-Chicago-Wavy-ExteriorELPC’s 2014 Dinner & Celebration will take place inside the modern elegance of the new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in downtown Chicago.

Blu Aqua is an architectural marvel that features irregularly-shaped, wave-like concrete balconies that lend the façade an undulating, sculptural quality. Designed by the acclaimed Jeanne Gang, it was the largest project ever awarded to an American firm headed by a woman – and it was Ms. Gang’s first skyscraper.

Located just west of Lake Michigan (on Upper Columbus Drive, near Lake Street), Ms. Gang says the design was inspired by the striated limestone outcroppings that are a common topographic feature of the Great Lakes region.

The water theme extends beyond the exterior design and name – the LEED Silver certified building includes a rainwater collection system as well as other sustainable features like energy-efficient lighting, an 80,000-square-foot green roof with native plants, and an extensive recycling program. During construction, the hotel ensured that more than 92% of all construction waste was recycled, and day-to-day operations boast a 20% reduction in water use, 31% reduction in lighting power, zero use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and 100% low-VOC materials use.

Inside, the Blu Aqua continues to stun with both sleek and textured elements that exist in perfect harmony. Weathered steel, polished gray concrete, and reclaimed bricks – a nod to Chicago’s industrial past – dovetail with a strikingly modern wall-to-wall gas fireplace embedded in a screen of interconnected Egyptian brass medallions.

The 12,000-foot ballroom – where ELPC guests will enjoy local food, beer and wine throughout the evening’s program – features dramatic LED lighting and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan, Millennium Park and the Michigan Avenue skyline.


Download the powerpoint OR view the slides below.


“You’ve been way, way ahead of your time. Going back two decades, the investment that you’ve made in your own time and energy to improve the environment, to improve your part of the world, to improve the country, is just extraordinary.”

“This award is not for Ray LaHood; it’s for every one of you. Everyone who has labored with the idea that we can do better in America, that we can do better in our communities, that we can make a difference. It doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money, but it does take time and energy. But more than anything, it takes a vision. It takes a dream. And sticking with it. And believing in it. And I’m sure that many of you that started two decades ago – some of your peers and colleagues maybe laughed at you or thought that your ideas were silly or that it couldn’t happen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could take this room full of people, all of you, and – God forbid – ship you off to Washington, D.C., where we need to get things done?”

“You’ll remember that when the President came to Washington, before he was sworn in, he got on an Amtrak train in Wilmington, Delaware, with Joe Biden, and rode into Washington on an Amtrak train – what a message, what a message! And I believe in the economic stimulus bill that passed within 30 days of the President being sworn in, there was $8 billion for high-speed rail. Which is $8 billion more than had ever been spent on rail in America ever.”

“Our state took $4 billion – i.e., faster rail from Chicago to St. Louis, from 79 mph to 110 mph, fixing up the tracks, buying new cars, buying new equipment. Passenger rail will be in Illinois because you pushed for it for 20 years, because it was on Howard’s agenda for 20 years, your agenda for 20 years, and because of Barack Obama’s vision for passenger rail in America.”

“The last generation left us the Interstate system. What will we do for the next generation? What you’ve all been dreaming about – passenger rail, it’s coming. It’s coming to Illinois, it’s coming to California, the Northeast corridor, it’s coming to America.”

“The other thing – and Howard mentioned this – without one vote of Congress, within 30 days of being sworn in to his first term, President Obama signed an Executive Order which told the Department of Transportation and the EPA to work together to raise CAFÉ standards to 54.5 miles per gallon. We did it. We did it within 1 year. We got all the car manufacturers on board. We didn’t wait for Congress to take a vote – we would still be waiting. But the President had a vision – let’s raise gasoline standards.”

“I know that many of you know that we’ve accomplished a lot. But we’ve accomplished a lot because you trained Barack Obama about the importance of live-able and sustainable communities, clean-burning energy, good environmental standards – and he took that to Washington, D.C., gave Ray LaHood his dream job, we followed the President’s lead, we followed your lead, we followed your leadership, we followed your vision, and we made a difference.”