Introducing the UnGala

Alexandra MichelEvents, Support

Unprecedented Events Call for Unprecedented Events – Introducing the WITS UnGala

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WITS will not be hosting our annual Blackboard Affair gala.

Instead, we will host The UnGala: a deconstructed gala highlighting the main elements of a traditional event through a series of Alice in Wonderland themed small gatherings and virtual events, culminating in an evening of celebration across the City.

These events will honor Jennifer Alter Warden, COO and EVP at Baird & Warner with the Alter & Stone Outstanding Volunteer Award. Jennifer’s contributions to the Chicago philanthropic community are innumerable.  She is a member of the WITS Board of Directors, President of the International Women’s Forum, and in 2002, created the Baird & Warner Good Will Network, the company’s charitable initiative.

WITS is also excited to recognize the service of PPM America / Jackson with this year’s Corporate Honoree Award. WITS has partnered with PPM America / Jackson for the Mid-Day Mentoring program since 2017, serving students from both Jenner Academy and Ogden Elementary. Averaging 30 volunteers annually, PPM America Jackson employees have volunteered more than 1,200 hours and has been one of our fastest growing programs. We are also excited to have a member of the PPM America / Jackson team, Craig Close, join the WITS Board of Directors this year.

Alice in Wonderland illustration by John Tenniel

The UnGala events will take place throughout the Fall and Winter months. To kick off the season of celebration, the WITS Associates Board will host Down the Rabbit Hole Cocktail Hours. These pop-up events will include raffles and Alice in Wonderland-themed experiences. These events will take place virtually, and include: virtual cooking class and bartending classes.

Later this Fall, WITS will host the Caterpillar’s Education Webinars. These webinars will feature various panels on topics including: education during COVID-19 and the current landscape of volunteering in a virtual world. The webinar series will be free for all and will feature a Q&A section between the panelists and attendees. We hope you will join us to learn more and have open discussions surrounding these relevant topics.

Alice in Wonderland illustration by John Tenniel

The main event of the UnGala is the Mad Hatter Tea Party on Thursday, December 10th. That evening, WITS will host a live-streamed event featuring award acceptances, videos, and a State of WITS address by WITS CEO, Tena Kunik. For the evening of the Tea Party, a donation is required for a link to access the virtual event. While there is no minimum donation required to attend, this is a fundraising event. Every dollar makes a difference to WITS and helps us provide programming to thousands of Chicago Public Schools students.

The WITS community is strong. We have a history, and we most certainly have a future. In between, we have one another and our commitment to literacy. Reading will always be a space for us to build empathy, learn about others and ourselves, and perhaps provide a little escape when we need it.

We hope you will join us down the rabbit hole this Fall.

If you have any questions, or are interested in joining, please reach out to Alex Michel –



The UnGala