May 6, 1925|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||January 13, 2016
Palmetto Bay, Florida, U.S.
Lois Weisberg (May 6, 1925 – January 13, 2016) was the first Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of Chicago, from 1989 until January 2011. She was profiled by writer Malcolm Gladwell in a New Yorker essay, "Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg"; Gladwell, who called Weisberg a "connector" and included the essay about her in his book The Tipping Point, asked: "She’s a grandmother, she lives in a big house in Chicago, and you’ve never heard of her. Does she run the world?"
Weisberg was appointed by Mayor Harold Washington to head the city's Office of Event Planning in 1983. She helped establish the Gallery 37 program, which gathered Chicago youths to a vacant block in downtown Chicago to make art; she also created the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago Gospel Festival, multiple citywide neighborhood festivals and the Chicago Holiday Sharing It Program. She launched Chicago's Cows on Parade exhibit, the first in the US. Before her appointment to city government, she helped found the Chicago Cultural Center and Friends of the Park.
She was bestowed with many civic and arts awards, including the League of Women Voters Civic Contribution Award, Governing Magazine’s Public Official of the Year Award, the Harold Washington History Maker Award, an honorary Doctorate from Chicago's Spertus Institute and the Chicago Tribune “Chicagoan of the Year” award.
In 2014, she received an inaugural Five Star Award from the City of Chicago.
In a 2009 interview with Chicago Life, she reported not always enjoying the process of fundraising, "Even since I first started with the Shaw celebration in 1956, I’ve never really liked asking people for money. I don’t mind asking people for money for something I’m not involved with, and I bet a lot of people feel that way."
- Kogan, Rick (January 16, 2016). "Lois Weisberg dead at 90: Tireless champion of city's cultural life". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
- Weber, Bruce (January 22, 2016). "Lois Weisberg, Chicago’s Cultural Connector, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- Kogan, Rick. City's culture guru leaving amid rift with Daley, Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2011; accessed January 1, 2014.
- Chicago Tribune (September 12, 2014). "City of Chicago makes amends with Lois Weisberg". chicagotribune.com.
- Curry, Jessica. (December 9, 2009)."Stone Soup", Chicago Life; retrieved January 12, 2010.