caption freeform

2024 Highland Park Awards: Winners & Ceremony Information

2024 City of Highland Park Awards Recipients Announced
Award recipients to be honored at awards ceremony on April 11

April 4, 2024 – The City of Highland Park is pleased to announce the 2024 Highland Park Awards recipients. Presented annually, the awards recognize those who have made positive, sustained, and impactful contributions to the community in their respective category. The Arts Award, Environmental Award, Humanitarian Award, and the Character Counts Pillar Awards will be presented by the City, North Shore School District 112, Highland Park High School, and the Park District of Highland Park at a ceremony on April 11, 2024 at 6:30 PM at the Highland Park High School auditorium. For the first time, the winners of the City’s annual photography contest will also be recognized at this event.

Recipients of the 2024 Highland Park Awards are:  

Arts Award Recipient: Bitter Jester Foundation for the Arts

Highland Park-based non-profit organization Bitter Jester Foundation for the Arts (BJFA) is recognized for more than two decades of service that has enhanced and elevated the cultural arts in Highland Park. BJFA’s mission is to promote the benefits of the arts to the public and foster economic growth through original music and theatrical performances that unite diverse artists, audiences, and local businesses. Now in its 18th season, BJFA’s flagship Bitter Jester Music Festival provides unparalleled opportunities for young performers to challenge themselves musically, receive guidance from professionals and educators, and perform at incredible venues like Ravinia Festival and Navy Pier. For more information about BJFA, visit

Environmental Award Recipient: Donnie Dann

Donnie Dann is honored for his longtime, tireless work in multiple capacities to prevent bird collisions with building glass and help preserve birdlife in Highland Park and throughout the region. As Highland Park Lakefront Commission Chairman, Dann advocated for the adoption of bird-friendly design requirements for private and public developments in the City, later lending expertise in this area to the City of Chicago in the planning of their bird-friendly building ordinance and to State Representative Bob Morgan’s statewide bird-friendly design initiative, which later became state law in 2021.

Humanitarian Award Recipient: Betsy Brint

Betsy Brint is recognized for decades of volunteer and philanthropic service to the Highland Park community, and in particular for her more than a decade of leadership on the Board of the Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF). During Brint’s tenure on the HPCF board, she served as part of a small team charged with creating a strategic plan for HPCF’s future, including a streamlined, centralized grant-making process. Brint was instrumental in HPCF’s facilitation, management, and disbursement of millions of dollars in donations during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of the Highland Park shooting. Brint has also honorably served numerous Highland Park organizations and founded with her husband, David Brint, the Foundation for Retinal Research in 1997, complementing her role as a national board member of the National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired. 

Character Counts Pillar Award Recipients:

Alexander Aburto
Doug Anderson
Carlos Angelina
Jagger Barnes
Imaan Bokhari
Jace Brown
Leah Brajer
Benen Cahill
Roark Cooper
Isabel Davis
Linnea Davis
Jen Deutch
Neena Edison
Deborah Finn
Grayson K. Figenholtz
Dan Gross
Nami Goldenberg
Roxanne Hejnowski
Scarlett Helfand
Madison Hintermeister
Renee Kahn
Kaiya Kumlien
Ryder Lamberti
Alexandra Lopez
Stephanie Luger
Elias Pinto Mejia
Yael Mirelman
Evelyn Muelver
Anna Neblo
Allison Nemirow
Danielle Pearl
Naidelin Perez
Tristan Perkes
Emerson Raynor
Lili Richter
Logan Rotter
Rabbi Michael Schwab
Valentina Sequeira
Chari Shifrin
Jorie Sigesmund
Cole Stein
Charlotte Udani
Riley Waxman
Karen Weiss
Maureen Lewis

The Character Counts Pillar Awards recognize community members who exemplify the six pillars of character in their daily lives: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

Capture the Heart of Highland Park Photography Contest:

Dr. JB Rose, Arts & Architecture Winner
Bruce Black, Daily Life Winner
Laurel Feldman, Environmental Winner
Jorie Sigesmund, Community Favorite Award
David Kopka, Arts & Architecture Honorable Mention
Jeff Kolthammer, Daily Life Honorable Mention
Dr. JB Rose, Environmental Honorable Mention
Marla Schachtel, Arts & Architecture Winner
Eric Freibrun, Daily Life Winner
Lynn West, Environmental Winner
Julie Jacobson, Community Favorite Award
Monroe Pfeffer, Arts & Architecture Honorable Mention
Anna Wenger, Daily Life Honorable Mention
Robert Limoges, Environmental Honorable Mention

Through its annual photography contest, the City seeks to illustrate the character of the community and capture the vibrancy of Highland Park. Winners and honorable mentions in the Arts, Daily Life, and Environmental categories are selected by the Cultural Arts Advisory Group. The Community Favorite is chosen by the community at large through an online survey.