State Sen. Dan Kotowski, the Late Judy Baar Topinka Receive Courage in Public Service Award

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – On April 14, Lutheran Day organizers will honor State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-28th) and the late Judy Baar Topinka, Illinois Comptroller, who died on Dec. 10, 2014, with this year’s Paul Simon Courage in Public Service Award.

Sen. Kotowski is a champion for good, transparent government, and strong partnerships between government and nonprofit organizations. As a direct-talking and collaborative public official, Topinka, among other achievements, developed communications and appeals systems to allow nonprofit providers owed money by the state to press for the best possible payment solution.

The presentation of the Paul Simon Courage in Public Service Award will take place during the annual Lutheran Day activities at the State Capitol Rotunda at 4 p.m. by a coalition of Lutheran-affiliated social service, healthcare, and advocacy groups. The award was created in 2004 by several Lutheran organizations, along with Patti Simon, widow of the late U.S. senator, to recognize Illinois public officials who demonstrate a commitment to just, compassionate, and responsible public policy.

As Vice President of the Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network (UCAN) and later as Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Sen. Kotowski spent much of his early career championing for the well-being and safety of children and adults in Illinois. He brings this same commitment to his role as an elected official. As Chairman of the Budgeting for Results Commission, Sen. Kotowski leads a diverse group of legislators, nonprofit managers, and financial experts who use data-driven, results-based budgeting to help ensure public funds are spent wisely to best meet the needs and advance the priorities of Illinoisans.

Topinka was widely admired and respected for her straight-talking persona and ability to work with colleagues on both sides of the legislative aisle. Beginning with her time in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1981, then as State Senator, State Treasurer for three terms and as Illinois Comptroller, Topinka was an advocacy leader. Throughout her career as a public servant, she worked to enhance the partnership between government and nonprofit organizations for the benefit of the citizens of Illinois. On the first annual Lutheran Day in 2004, Topinka was present to help inaugurate the Paul Simon Courage in Public Service Award.

“When legislators and state officials govern with the interests of people as their first priority, our communities and the state as a whole can flourish,” said Mark Stutrud, Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. “Illinois residents are fortunate to have Sen. Kotowski as their champion in the state Capitol. In Judy Baar Topinka, the people of Illinois lost a good friend and leader, whose legacy will be felt for years to come. Together, they personify the ideals of the Paul Simon Courage in Public Service Award.”

Lutheran agencies involved in Lutheran Day include: Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI); Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS); Advocate Health Care; Bethesda Lutheran communities; Concordia Place; Bethel New Life; Holy Family Ministries and Lutheran Advocacy-Illinois. For more information, visit

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About Lutheran Day:
Lutheran Day was created in 2004 when two Lutheran human service provider organizations — Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) and Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) — recognized that they had common concerns relating to their partnerships with state government, specifically with inadequate state funding for human services and the larger issue of inadequate and unsustainable state revenue to cover the cost of all state programs. As a result of those meetings, the two organizations resolved to reach out to other Lutheran human service provider organizations in Illinois to combine and organize their voices and constituencies to support the strengthening of the public-private human services safety net in Illinois.