Entrepreneur Larry Levy, the innovative restaurateur who is credited with transforming the sports concessions business around the world, has been named 2017 General Chairman of the Jewish United Fund Annual Campaign.
Levy is renowned for putting people first and creating a culture of caring among his employees.
His vision, determination and insight will serve him well as he chairs the 2017 JUF Annual Campaign. One of the largest annual fundraising events in the country, the JUF Annual Campaign raised $84.3 million in 2016, supporting a wide variety of humanitarian and community-building efforts that benefit 500,000 Chicagoans of all faiths and millions of Jews in Israel and around the world.
"Larry's energy and creativity will be a driving force in this year's Campaign. He is a perceptive leader and his charismatic personality engages people from all walks of life," said Dr. Steven B. Nasatir, JUF President. "Our community is fortunate to be the recipient of his expertise and exceptional leadership."
"I am incredibly proud of our Chicago Jewish community's generosity, and humbled by the passion and commitment its leaders have demonstrated in caring for the vulnerable," Levy said. "I am truly honored to continue in the great tradition of the leaders who have come before me in this role."
The co-founder and owner of Levy Restaurants until he sold it in 2007, Levy opened his first restaurant in 1976, the venerable D.B. Kaplan's Delicatessen in Water Tower Place, with creative culinary guidance from his late mother, Edith ("Eadie"). Beginning with the old Comiskey Park and later, Wrigley Field, he upgraded and revitalized the concessions business at Ravinia Festival, McCormick Place and the Lincoln Park Zoo, and at more than 100 sports stadiums, arenas and other venues around the world, as well as longstanding restaurants at Florida's Walt Disney World.
He is now the Managing Partner of Levy Family Partners, investing in local tech startups and developing large commercial real estate ventures such as the new River Point office tower. Over the years, Levy has been an owner/developer of numerous major Chicago projects, including One Magnificent Mile and other office and industrial properties around the country. In addition, Levy owns Esperanza, a luxury resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Levy is passionate about taking something good and making it better, intuitively understanding people and what they want, and taking time to mentor promising young professionals. His Jewish values have been a guiding force in his life.
"Anyone who knows me knows that family is everything to me," Levy said. "But my sense of family goes beyond my wife and kids. I have always considered my coworkers and employees to be family, too. I also have a greater, worldwide Jewish family, and the quality of their lives matters to me."
He serves as a Vice Chairman of the JUF Board of Directors, and is a member of the JUF's Executive, Litigation Review, and Overall Planning & Allocations committees. Previously, he chaired JUF's Advance & Major Gifts dinner; the most successful Vanguard Dinner to date; and the Israel at 60 Gala. Levy has been a longtime member of the JUF Campaign Cabinet and active with JUF's Trades, Industries & Professions division.
In addition to JUF, Levy is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago; a Life Trustee of Northwestern University; a member of the Northwestern Kellogg Graduate School of Management Board of Advisors; Lincoln Park Zoo Board of Trustees; and Northwestern Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Levy earned his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University, and his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, where he and his wife, Carol, endowed The Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice.
"We are standing on the shoulders of the entrepreneurial giants that built this community," Levy said. "I view this as an opportunity to pay that good fortune forward."
The Jewish United Fund is the one organization that impacts every aspect of local and global Jewish life, providing human services for Jews and others in need, creating Jewish experiences and strengthening Jewish community connections. JUF brings the community together from across the spectrum of Jewish life to take part in collective action and ensure the Jewish future.