Annual Benefit 2021

May 20, 2021

Thursday, May 20th, 2021 | 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CDT

Tune into the livestream broadcast of our annual signature fundraising event,  as we come together to hear from inspirational speakers and raise the funds to fully sponsor our next Habitat Chicago home!



Israel Idonije

Israel Idonije is a builder. He has been building towards the next phase of his life since he was a child. He built an 11-year NFL career, against all odds, by developing himself to the status of an elite athlete. 

Israel has earned many honors and awards for his work both on and off the field including leading the NFL in blocked punts/field goals in 2005, 2006, and 2007; member of the Chicago Bears NFC Championship team which played in the 2006 Super Bowl; the NFL's JB Award for Global Dedication, 2008; the Ed Block Courage Award, 2009; Bears "Walter Payton Man of the Year" nominee, 2009 and 2010, and one of three finalists for the League award in 2010; USA Today's All-Joe Team, 2010 and 2012. Israel was recognized as a Points of Light Awardee by Presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush at the White House, 2013; presented the Order of Manitoba by Prince Charles, May 2014; awarded Honorary Doctor of Law by University of Manitoba, June 2014; acknowledged as Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest Finalist 2016; Football Manitoba Hall of Fame, 2018; and accepted Canada's Meritorious Service Decoration, March 2019. 

Israel is the founder of iF Charities, whose programs have contributed to the lives of over 10,000 youth in Chicago, Winnipeg, and West Africa. As an entrepreneur, Israel has started several successful business ventures. His company blessed stands as the industry leader in Communion supplies, and ATHLiTACOMICS develops custom comic content and properties. In 2019, he opened RSTR, a boutique gym in the South Loop, which focuses on health and fitness transformations with 30-minute workouts. He also co-founded Crypto Key Stack and launched FBRK (fabric) Impact House, a 40,000 square-foot, first-of-its-kind philanthropic hub in the heart of Chicago's Loop. 

It is important to Israel that all of his ventures have a positive impact on the world, lifting and building up others. He believes everyone is blessed with the gifts and abilities to become successful in their own unique way. 



Raised in the West Pullman neighborhood of Chicago, Nate Marshall is an award-winning author, editor, poet, playwright, performer, educator, speaker, and rapper. Marshall received the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation in 2020, following the release of his latest book, FINNA.

Marshall is an experienced and versatile educator, working with learners of all ages in both academic and community settings. He co-wrote Chicago Public School's first literary arts curriculum and develops lesson plans using creative writing to help participants discuss social justice, mental health, community development, and other topics pertinent to social science.


Samir Mayekar fills a newly created role designed to further develop and support Chicago’s neighborhoods. Samir has significant experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Samir previously served in the Obama administration in the White House and at a federal infrastructure finance agency.

As co-founder and CEO of NanoGraf Corporation, a global manufacturer of advanced materials, Samir built a green energy company that continues to grow in Bronzeville. Samir has deep neighborhood roots in Chicago, having served as board chair for a community-engaged youth theater in Albany Park and a GRAMMY-winning music ensemble serving the Back of the Yards.

He holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management, where he received the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He also serves on Northwestern’s board of          trustees. Samir is fluent in Spanish and married to Dr. Emily Mayekar, an orthopedic surgeon working at Illinois' largest        trauma center serving Chicago's South Side.  



Homebuyer, Joyce M.

Joyce is a graduate of Habitat Chicago's Homebuyer University and a current homebuyer in the Affordable Homeownership Program.


Homeowner, Tonya M.

Tonya is a resilient woman, diligent mother, and has been a Habitat Chicago homeowner since 2018.



Pfeffer, AIA, LEED AP, is Vice President of Architecture at Related Midwest and currently sits on Habitat Chicago's Board of Directors. He has been recognized as one of Crain's "40 Under 40" in 2016 and received the AIA National Young Architect Award in 2014..


Pearce is a Structural Engineer and Business Development Associate at GRāEF who has designed several acclaimed structures across the country. She currently sits on ACE Mentor Chicago Board as well as Habitat Chicago's Board of Directors as Vice President.


Parks oversees the Habitat Chicago mission of building strength, stability and self-reliance in Chicago neighborhoods.

Prior to joining Habitat Chicago in 2011, Parks served in several roles at Habitat for Humanity International including: Director of Program Delivery for Thrivent Builds, Associate Regional Director in Texas, and Associate Regional Director in Pennsylvania.