Public Humanities Awards 2023

2023 Recipients L-R: Rebecca Ginsburg, Alyson Thompson, Tracie D. Hall, and Stephanie Manriquez (Photo by GlitterGuts)

Publichumanitiesawards05172023 7693 2023 PHA Recipients credit Glitter Guts

May 17, 2023


City Hall/Recess
838 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60642


Open to the public. Sold Out.

Thank you for joining us as we celebrated and honored our 2023 Public Humanities Awardees, Rebecca Ginsburg, Alyson Thompson, and Stephanie Manriquez, and our 2023 Beacon Awardee Tracie D. Hall at City Hall/Recess on May 17, 2023!

The afternoon was filled with joy, community, and the sharing of stories. Together, we created a story of our own, too. Joined by storyteller, poet, and activist Faylita Hicks, guests offered words and phrases in response to the prompt, “What makes your story possible," jotted down on seed paper. Taking their responses in hand, she wrote a poem entitled, “Root Work,”

Read Root Work

The 2023 Award Recipients

Tracie D. Hall, Beacon Award Recipient
Awardee Tracie D Hall

Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director of the American Library Association

Tracie D. Hall is the tenth Executive Director of the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world with over 50,000 members serving library and educational institutions throughout and beyond the US. The first Black woman to helm ALA in its nearly 150-year history, Hall has served in numerous library and arts leadership positions nationwide. Her former posts include Culture Program Director at The Joyce Foundation where she was recognized for creating numerous programs to advance racial inclusion in arts administration and equitable funding for arts institutions including the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project; Deputy Commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events where she oversaw the visual and performing arts, film, and community market programs and received citations for her work to expand arts access and neighborhood outreach; Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Development at Queens Library where during her tenure she founded the NYC Early Learning Network; Community Investment Strategist and Chicago Community Investor for the Boeing Company’s Global Corporate Citizenship division; Assistant Dean of Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science; Community Librarian at Hartford Public Library where she curated the NEH-funded Festival of Caribbean Literature with the Connecticut Center for the Book and where then mayor, Eddie Perez, designated February 13 as "Tracie Hall Day" to acknowledge her service to the city of Hartford; Youth Services Coordinator at Seattle Public Library where she developed the long-running SCRIBES youth creative writing program for the Richard Hugo House; and other library, non-profit, and public sector roles across the country.

Holding dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of California Santa Barbara, and master’s degrees from the Yale University School of International and Area Studies and the University of Washington School of Information, Hall’s work in library and arts administration has focused on advancing early and adult literacy, expanding broadband access, advocating for arts and educational programs and services for people who are incarcerated, and increasing socio-economic mobility in communities that have had limited educational or employment opportunities. In 2022, Hall became only the second librarian to be honored with a National Book Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement. Most recently, she was named the 2023 recipient of the Literacy Leader Award by scaleLIT. A native of south central Los Angeles, Hall lives in Chicago where she makes time to serve on the boards of various arts and community-based organizations.

Rebecca Ginsburg, Public Humanities Awards Recipient
Awardee Rebecca Ginsburg

Rebecca Ginsburg, Director of the Education Justice Project at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Rebecca Ginsburg is a co-founder and current director of the Education Justice Project (EJP), a unit of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Through its educational programs, publications, and outreach, EJP supports higher education in prison and educational opportunities for individuals who were formerly incarcerated. She holds joint appointments in Landscape Architecture and Education Policy, with courtesy appointments in Afro-American Studies, African Studies, and Anthropology.

Rebecca is a grantee partner of Illinois Humanities’ Envisioning Justice program and has also lent her support and expertise to the project.

Rebecca received her Bachelors degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, her JD from the University of Michigan Law School, and a PhD in Architectural History from the University of California at Berkeley. Her publications include Critical Perspectives on Teaching in Prison (Routledge 2019). She is currently working on a prison abolition reader (Lynne Rienner 2023).

Rebecca has been a resident of Urbana-Champaign for 18 years. She shares a home with her husband, William Sullivan, and daughters Anna (15) and Isabella (12).

Stephanie Manriquez, Public Humanities Award Recipient
Awardee Stephanie Manriquez

Stephanie Manriquez, Executive Director of Contratiempo and Producer at Lumpen Radio

Stephanie Manriquez is an award-winning writer, radio producer, journalist, and teaching artist with a passion for highlighting social justice issues affecting Latino communities. Stephanie sees storytelling as a radical act for the Latinx community and has committed herself to develop spaces for diverse voices to be heard, with a larger goal of increasing representation on public and alternative radio. As a journalist, she consistently speaks on topics that most affect her communities and as an educator, she is passionate about mentoring the next generation of Latinx media makers, helping them to become civically minded and artistically innovative. Stephanie is an alumna of Illinois Humanities’ Odyssey Project.

She is the Executive Director at Contratiempo, a literary organization and Illinois Humanities’ grantee partner that highlights the cultural contributions of the Spanish-speaking diaspora through programs presented as a printed magazine, digital publication, airwaves, stage and workshops. As the Director of Lumpen Radio, Stephanie serves as the lead producer for the community radio station and highlights multilingual content through their leadership of the Communities Amplified radio initiative. Her previous work includes leading the National Museum of Mexican Art’s youth journalism program and as a member of the Social Justice News Nexus Fellowship at Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, as a reporter and as a youth mentor. She was recognized in 2020 by the Field and MacArthur Foundations as one of 11 "Leaders for a New Chicago."

Alyson Thompson, Public Humanities Award Recipient
Awardee Alyson Thompson

Alyson Thompson, Library Director of Marshall Public Library

Alyson Thompson is Library Director for Marshall Public Library (a longtime grantee partner of Illinois Humanities and host to many Road Scholars Speakers Bureau presentations) as well as the Marshall Area Public Library District, Friend of the Library, and Local Coordinator for IRS Tax Aide assistance.

A strong advocate for preservation of local history, Mrs. Thompson has helped raise funds to preserve local stories, photos, newspapers, and most recently to acquire local Clark County Genealogy Library. Her professional work includes publications to library journals, educational workshops, building renovations, and host to nationally acclaimed exhibits.

Thompson's passion for local preservation can also be seen outside of her employment as she seeks to renovate existing local housing and beautify the community.

All photos by GlitterGuts.

  • 00 2023 PHA ALA Tote Bag
  • 01 2023 PHA Table Center Piece
  • 02 2023 PHA Jenn Wirtz Aanika Pfister
  • 05 2023 PHA Sylvia Ewing in conversation
  • 06 2023 PHA Rikeesha Phelon laughing
  • 10 2023 PHA Mary Davis Fourniers Table
  • 08 2023 PHA Bridget Haymans Table
  • 12 2023 PHA Christy Uchidas Table
  • 2023 PHA Alyson Thompson on Stage scaled
  • Publichumanitiesawards05172023 Rebecca Ginsburg cr Glitter Guts banner
  • Publichumanitiesawards05172023 Stephanie Manriquez cr Glitter Guts
  • Publichumanitiesawards05172023 Tracie D Hall cr Glitter Guts

Thank you to our host committee!

We are appreciative of all your efforts in helping put together such a fabulous event celebrating our 2023 Award Recipients and the impressive and vibrant public humanities work happening throughout Illinois.

Event Co-Chairs:

Mea Konopasek*
Jennifer Wirtz*

Honorary Chairs

Governor JB Pritzker
Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton

Committee Members

In alphabetical order

Nick Adam

Brenda Asare

Rhea Ballard-Thrower

Michelle T. Boone

John Bracken

Jennifer Brier

Commissioner Chris Brown

Antoinette Burton*

Felicia Davis Blakley

Rachel DeWoskin

Sue Eleuterio*

Brenda Langstraat Bui

Gabrielle Lyon

Susan A. Manning*

Tracye A. Matthews

Chrystalla Mouza

National Museum of Mexican Art

Julio Paz*

Rikeesha Phelon

Abigail Ristow

Larry Sophian*

Christy Uchida

Angel Ysaguirre


*Illinois Humanities Board Member
Last Updated: May 7, 2023

Thank you to our sponsors!

We are grateful to all of our sponsors and supporters. You help us continue our statewide mission.

2023 PHA Sponsors as of 05 17 23 final

About Illinois Humanities' Public Humanities Awards Ceremony

Established in 1984, the Public Humanities Awards Ceremony celebrates people who have made an indelible impact on our state through their work in and support of the humanities, honoring them with the Public Humanities Award. This event is Illinois Humanities’ most important annual fundraiser and enables us to provide grants and free public humanities programs throughout Illinois.

Launched in 2020 as part of the Public Humanities Awards Ceremony, the Beacon Award honors an individual or organization who has been a champion for – or investor in – the humanities in Illinois, elevating the work of humanists in ways that have improved the quality of the state for its residents.

View the list of Past Recipients
  • 2023:
    Rebecca Ginsburg, Stephanie Manriquez, and Alyson Thompson
    Beacon Award Recipient: Tracie D. Hall
  • 2022:
    Nicole Bond, Lorenzo Savage, and Sue Scott
    Beacon Award Recipient: Art for Justice
  • 2021:
    Tonika Lewis Johnson
    Beacon Award Recipient: Dawoud Bey
  • 2020:
    Sylvia Ewing and Eve L. Ewing
    Beacon Award Recipient: Weinberg/Newton Gallery
  • 2019:  Cheryl Lynn Bruce and Kerry James Marshall
  • 2018: Danielle Allen and Mannie Jackson
  • 2017: Jeanne Gang
  • 2016: Dr. Walter E. Massey
  • 2015: Howard Tullman
  • 2014: Jay Franke and David Herro
  • 2013: Lisa Yun Lee
  • 2012: Bruce Sagan and Bette Cerf Hill
  • 2011: John A. Wing
  • 2010: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
  • 2008: Carlos Tortolero
  • 2007: Barbara Gaines
  • 2006: Mary A. Dempsey
  • 2005: The Honorable Abner and Zoe Mikva
  • 1994: Martin E. Marty, Stanley J. Ikenberry, Richard J. Franke, Chicago Tribune
  • 1993: Francis J. Pettis
  • 1992: Nancy Anderson Stevenson
  • 1990: Bridget Lamont
  • 1989: Cyrus Colter
  • 1988: Brena and Lee Freeman
  • 1987: The Honorable Dawn Clark Netsch and Walter Netsch
  • 1986: Mary Ward Wolkonsky
  • 1985: J. Michael Lennon
  • 1984: John Hope Franklin, Stuart Steuver, The Honorable Jim Edgar, The Honorable Paul Simon, The Honorable Sidney Yates, Louise Año Nuevo Kerr