Naperville resident Guy Maras is a history buff, who often likes to quote former presidents and relate issues they faced in their time to the circumstances of today.
Maras uses his arsenal of historic knowledge to guide the Union League Club of Chicago — an organization that was founded in 1879 which, from its inception, has pledged a “commitment to community and country.” But the impact it has made on the city as well as our state continues to affect all of us in ways we can appreciate.
Maras, 50, became the 124th president of the Union League Club of Chicago in June. He has been a member of the Union League Club of Chicago for 22 years and argues it is far more than a good-old boys network or a health club.
“We have about 2,000 resident and 2,000 non-resident members, and while we offer workout facilities here, the primary purpose of the club is as a civic organization,” said Maras, who also is the co-managing partner of the law offices of Hennessy & Roach Chicago. “We hold about 60 events a month. Our members primarily include business professionals, attorneys, accountants, entrepreneurs and other business people. We’re one of three union leagues in America that still survive from when the Union League of America was founded in 1862.”
His history includes earning a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Marquette University, and becoming the president of the school’s philosophy honor society. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from De Paul and later a law degree from John Marshall Law School.
Brooke Wiseman, second vice president of the Union League who is scheduled to succeed Maras in two years, says her colleague has taught her many things about how events from years ago still connect with today. About Maras, she says he is “a man with a vision.”
“I think Guy has a real commitment to civic leadership and is serving as club president at the perfect time,” Wiseman said. “He’s secured great speakers for us, like Illinois Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Guy continues to look at social and political issues as well as work with the various clubs we have that help our youth.”
Maras said that, despite only a one-year term as president of the club, there are three accomplishments he believes have been significant this year.
“We have a George Washington birthday celebration each winter, and this time, we were able to get Justice Scalia to come and speak,” he said. “We had 400 people here and sold the place out.
“In addition, we’ve had a significant capital improvement project worth $2.7 million, where we have renovated our lounge and bar area we call the ‘Rendezvous.’
“A third thing was finding a successor for our general manager who is retiring after 22 years. It was a significant task but we have someone now in place.”
The Union League Club’s initiatives include working to improve regional transportation, literacy programs and educational funding.
Maras said he is also proud of the three independent philanthropic organizations it operates, including the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs; the Luminarts Cultural Foundation, which provides scholarships and grants in art, music, writing, performance, civic and academics for youngsters; and the Chicago Engineers’ Foundation, which offers grants and college scholarships to engineering students.
Revenue for these programs, Maras said, comes from four sources, including member dues, revenue from the club’s food and beverage service, the athletic department, and 190 guests rooms members pay to use.
“After all these years, we still are still driven by our ‘commitment to community and country,’ and I feel we are changing lives on a daily basis,” he said. “We still continue to be a force for analysis of important public policy affecting Chicago and the rest of the state.”