(This article originally published in our August 2017 issue of our quarterly newsletter, The Arch.)
Janet Rotner served on the Landmarks Illinois Board of Directors for six years before sun-setting this June. Janet said she has “the highest respect for the Landmarks Illinois staff and ‘family,’” and will remain active by joining the Emeritus Board and continuing committee work. Janet and her husband Philip Rotner also recently made a generous planned gift in support of Landmarks Illinois’ mission and programs. We asked Janet and Philip to reflect upon their deep commitment to the organization.
Landmarks Illinois: What drew you to Landmarks Illinois in the first place, and what has kept you with us for the past six years?
Janet Rotner: I’ve always been very interested in art and architecture. I love the idea of holding communities together by reusing buildings that are part of our heritage, rather than allowing them to be destroyed and replaced with generic structures that don’t reflect a community’s roots.
LI: During your service on the board, you’ve volunteered on several committees including the Legendary Landmarks Celebration Host Committee. How has this event evolved and what are you most proud of?
JR: Just six years ago we had 300 attendees at the event, and now we attract nearly 800 guests. That means more people are introduced to LI and the work we do in Chicago and statewide. We can thank Shelley Gorson, past LI board chair, for helping reinvent the annual fundraiser back in 2006 to our current, successful model of honoring Legendary Landmarks.
LI: You recently made a generous planned gift to Landmarks Illinois. What made you want to invest in its future?
JR: Philip and I have great confidence in the organization’s president, Bonnie McDonald, the staff and the Board of Directors. Prospective board members are carefully screened and chosen to represent an area of expertise to further the organization’s mission and goals. LI gets results! Its Preservation Heritage Fund and Donnelley Preservation Fund Grant Programs as well as The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards have supported and mobilized communities to save their historic buildings. We are revitalizing communities and instilling a sense of pride in their neighborhoods.
LI: Philip, what inspires you about Landmarks Illinois?
Philip Rotner: Of course, I couldn’t be more supportive of Janet’s commitment and contribution to LI. But more than that, I’ve been inspired by the number of LI success stories, none more so than the Farnsworth House, where Janet and I had the opportunity to visit for a small group dinner. It’s so important to remember and honor that part of our history that is visible in the structures around us every day. It says something important about who we are.