Raymond F. Simon, whose final term concluded in August, first joined the Board as one of four outside directors. As president of the Helen V. Brach Foundation, former deputy mayor for the City of Chicago and a longtime attorney, he helped lay the groundwork for Polk Bros. Foundation’s focus — working with other founding Board members to decide the Foundation’s geographic focus, and which projects and social issues to prioritize. One of the great strengths of the Polk Bros stores was the close relationship that the original Polk siblings and their colleagues developed with Chicago neighborhoods and the people they served. Guided by a continued commitment to community, Simon and the rest of the Board members decided the Foundation would focus support on efforts that promised to have a tangible and immediate impact on the lives of people throughout the city of Chicago.
“Ray’s judgement and experience were incredibly important and invaluable to us,” said Sandra Guthman, Chair of Polk Bros. Foundation’s Board of Directors. “He has been a crucial and critical member of the Board, and a big part of the Foundation’s success, thoughtfulness and prudence. I am immensely grateful for his contributions over this time.”
Simon served on Polk Bros. Foundation’s Board of Directors for over thirty years, during which time the Foundation awarded over $567 million in grants to nearly 3,800 nonprofits.
“Never have I seen a better run organization from top to bottom. I’m proud to have been a part of Polk Bros. Foundation’s meaningful work, and to have had the friendship of my fellow Board members during this time,” said Simon. “The assets of the foundation have been well managed both within and without.”
During a special October meeting, the Board also elected Roberto Herencia as its newest member.
“Roberto’s expertise in community banking, his deep community knowledge, and his commitment to Chicago will be valuable assets to the Foundation and its Board,” said Ardmore Roderick Chief Strategy Officer Cherryl T. Thomas, who serves as secretary of Polk Bros. Foundation’s Board of Directors and led the search.
Herencia is chief executive officer of Byline Bancorp, the largest community bank by assets in the city of Chicago. He also serves as executive chairman of Byline Bancorp and Byline Bank, president and chief executive officer of BXM Holdings, Inc., and chairman of FirstBanCorp and FirstBank PR’s Board of Directors.
“Roberto cares deeply about our city and has sharp perspectives to share, given his community banking work, civic engagement and service on the boards of other social sector organizations,” said Polk Bros. Foundation CEO Gillian Darlow. “I’m grateful for his willingness to serve on our Board.”
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he came to the mainland U.S. on a scholarship to Georgetown University. He is currently a trustee of DePaul University and Northwestern Memorial Foundation in Chicago, sits on the Junior Achievement of Chicago Board of Directors, and is a member of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Finance Council. He previously served on the board of Operation Hope and on the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s board of directors, where he had been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011.
“We are very excited for Roberto to join our board and bring his significant financial expertise and long-time experience with and commitment to immigrant communities and their needs,” said Guthman. “We look forward to learning much from him.”
Herencia is deeply involved in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for DePaul University, Economic Club of Chicago, Byline Bancorp and Banner Corporation. He has received numerous awards for his civic contributions including the Distinguished Corporate Citizenship Award from The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the Evy Award from A Silver Lining Foundation and the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgetown University, he holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
“I am proud and honored to be elected to the Polk Bros. Foundation Board,” said Herencia. “Their focus on ensuring that Chicagoans have an opportunity to reach their full potential and live their best lives is critical to our great city’s legacy and the well-being of our diverse communities.”
In addition to Herencia, Guthman and Thomas, Polk Bros. Foundation Board of Directors members are: