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2016 Honoree: Keating Crown


The District 39 Educational Foundation was proud to bestow its ninth Distinguished Citizen Award to Keating Crown.  We recognized Keating Crown as a passionate leader committed to rebuilding and revitalizing communities.

Keating is an alumnus of District 39 schools and New Trier’s class of 1996.  He studied sociology at Duke University, and was captain of the men’s lacrosse team.  After graduating from Duke in 2000 he moved to New York City to work for Aon Financial Services in the World Trade Center.  On the morning of 9/11, Keating was working on the 100th floor of the south tower when the first plane hit. Mr. Crown was one of the brave and lucky who escaped from the World Trade Towers that fateful day, and he has been dedicated to rebuilding himself and his communities ever since.

As the only survivor asked to serve on the 9/11 Memorial board, Keating was instrumental in helping rebuild the World Trade site into a sacred place that recognizes not only the incredible loss but also the courage and strength of those who survived.  The stunning memorial and museum have not only returned Battery Park to a place of beauty in New York City, but also serve as a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of all those involved in the 9/11 tragedy.

In 2002 Keating switched careers and eventually found his way home to Chicago where he attended Northwestern University and received a MBA/JD degree.  In 2012 he joined Sterling Bay Companies with a focus on real estate development and has been instrumental in the revitalization of the West loop neighborhood.

Keating’s experience in real estate development and philanthropic work came together in his role as the joint fundraising chair for The 606 — Chicago’s Bloomingdale trail, a 2.7 mile elevated rails to trails project that has been compared to New York City’s High Line.  The park opened in 2015 and currently connects Bucktown, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and Logan Square through park land and bike trails.  The rebuilding of these deteriorating and decommissioned train lines has created new park land and beautiful public green spaces in some of Chicago’s most densely populated neighborhoods.  Keating has volunteered his energy, passion and incredible network to help the city of Chicago create a place for children to play and residents to walk and gather while providing a safe passage for bicycle commuters as they navigate the city.

Keating Crown is a gifted leader who has a talent for spearheading complicated projects focused on improving the communities around him.  Through his professional life, philanthropic endeavors and survival during a national tragedy Keating Crown has demonstrated the beauty in rebuilding and the strength of communities.  We are proud to honor him as an alumnus of the Wilmette District 39 schools and as an example of citizenship.

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