Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago

Founded in 2010, the Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago is awarded by the Music Institute to individuals who possess the qualities that six generations of the city's forebears have successfully used to advance the civic and cultural presence of Chicago: a commitment to improving the quality of life for all citizens; a commitment to using the "power" of public and private partnership to expand access to diverse cultural offerings for all citizens; a commitment to advancing a strong spirit of philanthropy to build a sense of ownership and pride in our city, and; a commitment to preparing succeeding generations of citizens to continue Chicago's rich legacy of civic and cultural pride.


2022 Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago

Nancy and Scott Santi


Nancy and Scott Santi have been friends of the Music Institute for nearly two decades and wonderfully embody the characteristics of the Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago. The couple has made significant contributions to the cultural and civic vitality of our city, pouring their heart and soul into making the Chicago area a desirable place to live, work, and play.  


Scott is Chairman and CEO of Illinois Tool Works (ITW), one of the Music Institute’s largest sponsors and a corporate supporter for more than 25 years. He has served on several corporate boards including W.W. Grainger and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, while his non-profit service includes board seats with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Commercial Club of Chicago, Northwestern University, Rush University Medical Center, and Big Shoulders Fund. Specifically in the arts, Scott has served or currently serves on the boards of the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Ravinia Festival.


Nancy, an educator by background, equally uses her philanthropic prowess for good. She serves as a Trustee at Harris Theater for Music and Dance and a member of the Board at PAWS Chicago and is a member of the Women’s Board at Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Art Institute of Chicago, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.


Together, the couple co-chaired the Art Institute of Chicago’s Masterpiece 2019 Gala as well as the Lyric Opera’s “Chicago Voices” Gala in 2017. With a deeply rooted passion for accessible and quality education, both Nancy and Scott and ITW have been instrumental in the success of the ITW David Speer Academy, the Noble Network of Charter School’s first STEM campus. Nancy and Scott along with the team at ITW have been involved with the school since its founding eight years ago and have championed the administration’s recent efforts to introduce arts into the curriculum.


Nancy and Scott are also currently chairing the 20th Anniversary Fund for the LEARN Charter School Network, an organization they began supporting 14 years ago and have helped to nurture through active mentorship, philanthropy, and volunteer work. The Music Institute is proud to maintain a lasting relationship with LEARN schools through its ArtsLink program.

Past Cultural Visonary Award Recipients

2021  Linda and Bill Gantz

2020  Helen Zell

2019  Caryn and King Harris

2018  Frederick H. Waddell

2017  Susan and Richard (in memory) Kiphart

2016  Lois M. and Harrison I. Steans

2015  Mary B. Galvin

2014  Alexandra and John Nichols

2013  Jim and Kay Mabie

2012  Marilynn B. Alsdorf

2011  Sandra and Jack Guthman

2010  John H. Bryan, Joan W. Harris and Cindy Pritzker