John McIlwain

Senior Director of External Affairs

Mr. McIlwain served as the Vice President of Advancement for Aspire, a 60 year old not-for-profit organization working with children and adults with developmental disabilities.  At Aspire, John led a team of seven, including an Associate Director for Advancement, Special Events Coordinator, Database Coordinator, and an Executive Director of a Social Enterprise, mission-driven business.  Under John’s leadership, fundraising experienced double digit growth year-over-year (approx. ten to fourteen percent a year) for seven straight years.  In addition to managing the development team, John was responsible for overseeing Aspire CoffeeWorks, a social enterprise coffee business launched to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities while establishing an independent revenue stream to support Aspire’s philanthropic mission.  Revenues under John’s leadership grew ten-fold during his tenure.

Prior to joining Aspire, John was a commercial real estate broker working for firms such as Urban Innovations, Jones Lang LaSalle and Cushman & Wakefield.  While working in commercial real estate, John’s teams transacted over $200 million dollars of business.  It was during this time that John began to truly understand the intersection between mission and marketplace.

Prior to joining Cushman & Wakefield in 2000, John served as the Senior Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Berwyn.  During his tenure in Berwyn, John spearheaded a community-wide movement that advocated for community change through comprehensive Human Rights legislation.  When the Human Rights legislation as finally passed, the local newspaper suggested its passage was one of the most historic pieces of legislation ever passed by the Berwyn City Council.

John lives in Oak Park with his wife Kary and their dogs Danny Boy and Sadie Girl.