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Challis Lowe

Corporate executive Challis Lowe was born on July 21, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois to Clotilde Waller and Abner Waller. She graduated from Parker High School in 1962, and received her B.A. degree in communications from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1966. She later earned her M.B.A. degree in finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management University in 1978.

Lowe began her career at the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. In 1972, she was named the first African American female vice president of the Continental Bank, at the time, the fifth largest bank in the U.S. She was senior vice president of Illinois Leasing Corporation, a subsidiary focused on domestic lease and debt financing transactions, when Continental Bank sold this business unit to Sanwa Bank, Ltd. of Japan in 1984. Lowe remained in Chicago as senior vice president of administrative services for the newly formed Sanwa Business Credit Corporation. In 1993, she became the executive vice president of human resources for the Walter E. Heller International Corporation. In 1997, Lowe moved into a similar role at the Beneficial Corporation, then the nation’s second largest consumer finance company. When Beneficial merged with Household International, Inc. in 1998, Lowe served as a consultant. In 2000, she moved to Florida, where she worked as the executive vice president of human resources, corporate communications and public affairs for Ryder System, Inc. Four years later, Lowe was hired as executive vice president of human resources of Dollar General where she remained until the acquisition of Dollar General by KKR & Co. L.P., a private equity company. In 2009, Lowe was recruited to serve as the senior vice president of organization development and human resources for Ascension Health, Inc., a position she held until her retirement in 2013.

In 1997, Lowe joined the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation board as a financial specialist to chair its newly formed Investment Committee; and in 2000, she became a trustee of the Kenwood Growth and Income Fund in Chicago. Upon relocating to Florida, she served on the Florida Memorial College Board of Directors in 2001, and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Board of Trustees in 2003, which she later chaired. In 2005, Lowe was elected as a board member and treasurer of the Executive Leadership Council. Lowe joined the Fisk University Board of Trustees in 2013, and was named to the board of directors of the Seaway Bank and Trust Company in 2014. In 2016, Lowe was named to the board of Catholic Health Initiatives where she chaired the Retirement Committee and served on its Audit Committee.

Challis Lowe was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 30, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.138

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/30/2018

4/11/2019

Last Name

Lowe

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Park Manor Elementary School

Charles S. Deneen Elementary School

Francis W. Parker High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Southern Illinois University

Northwestern University

First Name

Challis

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LOW07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa, China, and Paris

Favorite Quote

Just Do It

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/21/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Corporate executive Challis Lowe (1945 - ) held various executive administrative positions at Walter E. Heller International Corporation, the Beneficial Corporation, Ryder System, Inc., the Dollar General Corporation, and Ascension Health, Inc.

Employment

Continental Illinois Leasing Corporation and Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago

Sanwa Business Credit Corporation

Walter E. Heller International Corporation

Beneficial Corporation

Ryder System, Inc.

Dollar General Corporation

Ascension Health, Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Ronne Hartfield

Arts administrator Ronne Hartfield was born on March 17, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois to Thelma Shepherd and John Drayton Rone.After graduating from Wendell Phillips High School in 1952, Hartfield (then Rone) went to the University of Chicago. She earned a B.A. in history in 1955. Her first job, doing public relations for the Chicago Children's Choir, gave her a "sense of mission." That sense, as well as her natural energy and enthusiasm, carried over to the rest of her career in which she sought positions through which she could positively affect the arts and society.

In 1969, Hartfield became the project director at Urban Gateways, the largest private arts education organization in the United States. After a successful start there, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago hired her in 1974 as professor of comparative literature and Dean of Students. There, she developed national and international exchange study programs and fellowships, supervised student services and designed and executed assessment studies. She taught at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, Chicago as well. Seven years later, Urban Gateways lured Hartfield back as the Executive Director. Under her leadership, the organization was designated by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as the national model for artist training and community arts education. She returned to the University of Chicago for graduate studies, earning an M.A. in theology and literature in 1982. In 1991, she began serving the Art Institute as the Executive Director for Museum Education. In this role, she provided interpretive materials and programs for all visitors to the museum. Because of this work, Hartfield is internationally recognized as an expert in arts and multicultural education.

Hartfield continues to consult with the Art Institute on a variety of projects. She serves as a trustee for the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the Rhode Island School of Design. She served as a trustee for Chicago's Columbia College and New York's International Sculpture Center for five years and has worked as a consultant for the NEA and the Rockefeller Foundation. She and her husband, Robert Hartfield, have four children.

Selected Publications:

Hartfield, Ronne. "The Chicago Years: Gathering Light in the Gray City." Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green. University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

Hartfield, Ronne. Encountering Art/Different Facets of the Esthetic Experience. Miho Museum/Kyoto. New York: Overlook Press, 2001.

Accession Number

A2002.080

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/3/2002

Last Name

Hartfield

Maker Category
Schools

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

John B. Drake Elementary School

University of Chicago

University of Chicago Divinity School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Days, Evenings

First Name

Ronne

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HAR04

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

We Was Mostly About Survival.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/17/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Ribs)

Short Description

Arts administrator Ronne Hartfield (1936 - ) was project director at Urban Gateways, the largest private arts education organization in the United States. She was a professor and dean of students at The School of the Art Institute, Chicago, where she became the executive director for museum education. Due to this work, Hartfield is internationally recognized as an expert in arts and multicultural education.

Employment

Chicago Children's Choir

Urban Gateways

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Northwestern University

University of Illinois, Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ronne Hartfield's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ronne Hartfield lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her name

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ronne Hartfield describes her mother's move from Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ronne Hartfield describes her mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ronne Hartfield talks about the relationship between her family and her grandfather's white family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ronne Hartfield describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ronne Hartfield talks about how her parents met in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her father's jobs

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ronne Hartfield talks about the importance of sharing family history

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ronne Hartfield describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ronne Hartfield describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ronne Hartfield describes her experience at John B. Drake Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ronne Hartfield describes her experience at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ronne Hartfield describes her mentors at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ronne Hartfield describes her social life at the Wasbash YWCA in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ronne Hartfield talks about graduating from Wendell Phillips High School in 1952

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ronne Hartfield describes enrolling at the University of Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ronne Hartfield describes her experience at the University of Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her life after graduating from the University of Chicago in 1955

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her husband, Robert Hartfield

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her friends and professors at the University of Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ronne Hartfield describes earning a fellowship to enroll in graduate school at the University of Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ronne Hartfield describes her graduate studies at the University of Chicago in Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ronne Hartfield describes her career at Urban Gateways and as Dean at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ronne Hartfield describes her career as Executive Director of Urban Gateways in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ronne Hartfield recounts the history of Urban Gateways in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ronne Hartfield recounts the history of Urban Gateways in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ronne Hartfield describes the condition of Urban Gateways after she left

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ronne Hartfield describes her accomplishments as Executive Director of Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ronne Hartfield talks about raising community involvement at the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ronne Hartfield describes some of the community programs she developed at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ronne Hartfield describes assisting the Art Institute of Chicago with the purchase of a daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ronne Hartfield talks about organizing an exhibition of spiritual art at the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ronne Hartfield describes organizing conferences on sacred art for Harvard University's Center for the Study of World Religion

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ronne Hartfield describes receiving a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship to write her book in Bellagio, Italy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ronne Hartfield talks about her poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ronne Hartfield talks about writing her book 'Another Way Home' in Italy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ronne Hartfield describes her experience with the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ronne Hartfield describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ronne Hartfield describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ronne Hartfield describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ronne Hartfield talks about the need for valorizing African American history

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ronne Hartfield reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ronne Hartfield narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Ronne Hartfield talks about the relationship between her family and her grandfather's white family
Ronne Hartfield recounts the history of Urban Gateways in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
Transcript
And does the white side of the family [of Hartfield's mother, Thelma Shepherd Rone] acknowledge a relationship?$$They did.$$Okay.$$They did at that time. The newer--their children and grandchildren don't--I should say their grandchildren. My grandfather [Arthur Shepherd], when he--after my grandmother [Cornelia Lehmann] died, he married a white woman and had three children with her and two of them were sons, boys, and they used to come visit us when we were kids. They totally acknowledged us. And her father, of course, totally acknowledged his children. Gave him his name and educated them and so forth. But we have beautiful pictures of my uncle, particularly as a child, very elegant, with a book in his hand and so forth. But when we were doing the genealogy and wanted his white granddaughter, who is exactly the age of my sister, to meet with us, she didn't want to to do it. So, that's changed.$$Yeah, was that unusual for those, I mean, for those days for--$$To acknowledge them?$$Uh-huh.$$Unusual, yes, not rare. Not rare. I've talked to a number of my friends who came from similar families. It was unusual--what was particularly unusual about him was that he was not married. He didn't have a second family, a white family. Those three little colored children were the only children he had and that my black grandmother was the only wife equivalent that he had. And then after she died, he married a white woman and it was always very disturbing to his mother that he wasn't married and had proper children and so forth. And my mother and her brothers made fun of them all the time about how she talked, "Got to have legitimate heirs" because they were not legitimate. But he was very powerful, so no one bothered them. And interestingly, to this day, that aura around the Shepherd family is still there because my mother's brother, one of them, stayed down there. They got left a plantation by their father, by a rouse, which I won't go into, is interesting. He had one of--he had the oldest son declared white. Had all the records changed so he could leave him one of the plantations. He had seven plantations and he left the smallest one to him, to his son. And they tried to get it back but they couldn't do it. They had enough property, anyway. Anyway, that little plantation then was for all three of the colored children and they sold out to one brother and he became very affluent because, when electricity came out there, he was a contractor and he built all these houses. They never had electricity and air conditioning and all that, you know, gas stoves and everything, electric stove. So he became very affluent and he stayed there until he died. And his children were raised there. And one of his children is a Vice Chancellor at Carbondale, SIU [Southern Illinois University]. But anyway, we go back down there with them and all the people still talk about the incredible freedom that my Uncle Ben had because of his father. His father's long since dead but that kind of power in those little communities, you know, it stays around.$$Yes, it's fascinating a lot of stories about, you know, the race in the United States is quite--it's hard to figure out how things are going to turn out sometimes, I guess.$$Race in the United States is one of the most interesting threads in its history. I have one, my mother had a great-grandfather, I mean had a grandfather, he's my great-grandfather, her mother, this colored woman, my grandmother, Cornelia, was Cornelia Lehmann, her father was Jewish and Jewish merchant who lived there. So she was part Jewish, or half Jewish. Her father, unlike my grandfather, had a Jewish family and he continued to have this long-term relationship with this colored woman, who's my great-grandmother, Emmaline, and he had three girls and one boy with her. He had the boy sent away to New Orleans [Louisiana] to be raised as white. The girls stayed down there and he totally acknowledged it was his children, with his name, and he owned that store I'm talking about with his brother. So they had everything there they ever wanted and needed but it was a disgrace in the community, you see, because he had another family. So there are intricacies upon intricacies in race in this country.$$I think it's interesting that they--they kept the name, Lehmann?$$Yes.$$They carried his name.$$I have tons of black cousins in Chicago right now named Lehmann.$$That's interesting.$$It is and they find it funny when they go to apply for jobs because people are always surprised 'cause they have this resume from Catherine Lehmann or Theresa Lehmann and then they see them and they're, black.$$How do you spell Lehmann?$$L-E-H-M-A-N-N.$$Okay.$I'll say something about Urban Gateways [in Chicago, Illinois]. Urban Gateways was started in 1961 so you need to think about it as a '60s' [1960s] kind of program when a lot of interest on the part of the government was emerging for inter-city schools. Simultaneously, a lot of interest was emerging in the arts, particularly community arts. And so there was this kind of conjunction of interest and strengthening black arts in the community and--and strengthening the lives of inter-city kids. And so Urban Gateways got a lot of model cities' money. Okay, Jessie [Woods] and some friends of hers, they were always racially integrated, had this deep concern and they started these camps and they started getting tickets from impresarios at the Auditorium and Orchestra Hall and so forth. When they--after all their halls weren't being filled and so they started saying, "Well, give us your extra tickets, we'll fill it up with students." And so they did. And that's how it started with these giving away tickets to poverty schools. And it grew, and grew and grew to include these camps which were inter-racial, urban/suburban camps, because they were sponsored by institutions in the suburbs, primarily churches, but sometimes community centers. I wasn't working for them in those days and I wasn't working at all. I'd just accept teaching a course here and there. I had little kids. I was writing poetry all the time. Poetry is a wonderful occupation for a young mother because you could write it while you wait for your kids to come out of dancing school or you can write it while you're waiting for your diapers to dry or you can, you know, it was a great, great creative time for me. So I wasn't working for Urban Gateways, but I knew them. I knew about them. I knew some of their volunteers. Jessie Woods' children were in Harvard - St. George School [Chicago, Illinois] when my husband [Robert Hartfield] was teaching there. So I knew her very slightly. And many of their volunteers lived in Hyde Park [Chicago, Illinois], where we did. Well, they got this infusion of Model Cities' [Model Cities Program] money and they started thinking the children needed some preparation for what they were going to seek because these kids had little or no experience with ballet or classical music or the Harlem Dance Theatre or Alvin Ailey and they weren't ready--the teachers weren't--didn't know how to get them ready. So they started sending in these teams of artists to get them ready for what they would see and they would prepare these little sheets for the teacher and the kids. And then they'd start, "Hum, we could get the parents involved in this." So they started preparing the parents and that's--then grew to become a very large thing, larger than the performances itself, the preparation end of things. And then, of course, they were training teachers, they were training parents and they were getting the kids ready, which means they were doing what I call "pre-curriculum". And the government, the National Endowment for the Arts, got interested in them, and gave them a big push up as a model. The city [Chicago, Illinois] got interested. They got money from the mayor's office and so forth. So they were doing quite well there in that second ten years or so--middle ten years. And then the government money started to dry up and the schools didn't have money to buy these things and so Urban Gateways was giving them away and raising money to give them away. And it was getting harder and harder to raise money from corporations and foundations, to give kids that kind of programming. The "back to basics" movement was starting. People wanted to give money for reading and writing programs and math. So things got a little tough there.