Maria Bechily: 2015 HIPGiver

Maria Bechily, Nuestro Futuro Co-Chair Written By: Erin Ginder-Shaw
Maria Bechily wants to know, will you join her? As founder of one of the first public relations agencies to tap into Chicago’s growing Latino market and leader of a variety of community-based organizations, Bechily understands the value of asking people to give. “Latinos are incredibly generous,” she says. “We give to our families, we give to neighbors, we give to friends. We send hundreds of millions of dollars to our home countries to build hospitals, roads, and parks.” The next step, and a quest that is very important to her, is inspiring Latinos to also give in their own communities. Maria Bechily’s career has been seasoned and vast. In addition to creating María Bechily Public Relations, from which she is now retired, she has also served on the Commission on Chicago Landmarks; the National Advisory Council on Women’s Educational Programs, and the White House Advisory Committee on Personnel. She won two Emmys for hosting shows on WSNS-TV, which is now part of the Univision network. She is also a lifetime trustee of the Goodman Theatre, and successfully promoted the expansion of its youth programs and the International Latino Festival. As founding Co-Chair of Nuestro Futuro, an initiative of the The Chicago Community Trust, she is also no stranger to fundraising, and she believes wholeheartedly in the power of collective philanthropy. A fundamental aspect of Bechily’s success is her stance on doing. “I care, how do I care?” she asks, “By being involved. Sometimes people complain to me about why doesn’t this or that event happen. I always say, why don’t you get involved? Do something about it.” It is this tenacity and drive to help people that has propelled her — that and her parents. Bechily was born in Cuba where she lived with her family until age 12. Her house growing up was a safe space for people to gather and discuss the issues impacting their community. “The topic of social justice and working with those in great need was always part of my upbringing,” she says. The power of giving and collective philanthropy is deeply rooted in Bechily’s actions and personal philosophy, and the first step to positive impact lies in the dynamic influence of the individual. “Not to take away from the needs of our home countries,” she says. “It takes outreach and education to help people understand that we need to take a look at what’s going on in our own communities to inspire involvement.” She believes that the more people who take seriously their time, talent, and treasure, the better givers we all will be. “That’s how you build communities and ensure quality of life,” Bechily said. “Talk about it, provide opportunities, and ask.” In a nutshell, DO.
The 31 HIPGivers recognized in 2015 are collectively altering the landscape for our country. They are pushing the envelope by asking for more – more consideration, more awareness, more compassion, more action, more giving.