Diana Rauner honored for contributions at annual Rotary luncheon
Gov. Bruce Rauner doesn't stand alone as a leader in Illinois -- or in his own home, for that matter.
Rauner's wife, Diana, was recently named "Chicago Woman of the Year" at the Rotary Club of Chicago’s annual luncheon.
Rauner, the president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, spoke to the gathering about preventing child abuse and neglect, describing how it disproportionately impacts children in lower-income families. She emphasized how things like affection and love can bring about big change.
The prevention fund group also encourages parents, including young teens from different walks of life, to offer a well-balanced, healthy and nurturing relationship to their children, Rauner said. It aims to bring about unity between teachers and parents and teachers and children.
“We recognize that while the attachment relationship between infants and parents is something that we all know … that is what we’re all hardwired to do," Rauner said. "We’re all hardwired for social interaction -- in fact, eye contact.”
Rauner described eye contact as the “gateway” to understanding what an infant who cannot yet speak could be thinking, considering everything a baby learns comes from its environment.
“These are all inputs … billions and billions of input that happen in every moment," she said. "They’re like a fast-processing computer.”
Rauner said the information she provided about children is important not simply because it’s her passion, but also because it’s something that impacts the nation, since what an adult becomes can begin in the earliest stages of one's life.
She said promoting child development and the attachment relationship are major parts of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, from working with parents and legislators to teachers and parents.
“All change happens in the context of relationships," Rauner said. "People grow and develop when they feel safe, trusted and loved. If we want to see individuals advance and progress and develop at what they do, we need to provide them with safe, trusted and loving environments. This is where leadership comes in.”
Leadership aspects such as love are the foundation of what she and other organizations take pride in when it comes to day-to-day operations, she said.
“It’s allowed me the privilege of working with an extraordinary group of people at the Ounce,” Rauner said.
Describing approximately 300 staff members as “national experts” at what they do in providing various opportunities around the United States, Rauner also recognized her husband as someone who helps her stand strong and stay on track when “some days are harder than others.”
“He says, ‘Think of how lucky we are. We get to spend 99 percent of our time focusing about other people’s problems’" Rauner said. "That is a great privilege. It is a great honor to have that opportunity.”
Rauner also credited her supporters and thanked them for standing by other people and “engaging” with those who might not be like them.
At the day's conclusion, Rauner was presented Paul Harris Fellow honor for her service to the city and her purpose “to build a better Chicago” as well as her “significant contributions” to the city.
See her full speech here.
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