Work: Case Studies

Magic happens when people come together around a shared purpose and use their passion and talents to make a difference. Also, things get done.

The Kennedy Forum Illinois


In early 2014 a small group of established Illinois business, political and community leaders, fed up with the status quo on mental health issues and inspired by a new initiative launched by Patrick Kennedy, began meeting regularly to map out a new campaign in IL. They wanted to launch a new movement with a high-profile Forum that would help unite the mental health community and bring new stakeholders to the table.  Ideaction Corps mission: bring the idea to life, build the organization to support it, raise the money to power it.


Ideaction Corps curated a team of Corps Members with the skills and experience to get the job done, but also the personal passion and commitment to this issue.  Our overall approach was informed by the unique characteristics of this project: an influential, connected, committed group of founders, a well-known national leader in Patrick Kennedy and a strong brand with the Kennedy name, lack of structure, budget, and organization, and a very big inspirational vision.

We approached this project with organization, intensity and discipline of a well-run political campaign. Goal one was and organizing an operating structure that could make effective decisions while growing a big tent. We built and managed a strong Steering Committee with Subcommittees around key tasks, a broad influential Organizing Committee and disciplined project management team that managed, work, people and budgets.

The project started with a budget of zero. In less than four months we raised $850,000. We did this utilizing an experienced fundraising team and an extremely disciplined and outcomes focused process. We established clear goals, well-researched prospects, and effective meeting preparation. We engaged Patrick Kennedy at strategic moments. We created opportunities to reach prospects and create momentum, including a sold out City Club of Chicago event, and a Salon Breakfast hosted by the Economic Club.

We also needed to put together a large-scale launch event – part conference forum, part fundraising dinner in a few short months. Ideaction managed the entire process of curriculum development, speaker recruitment, and event production, from venue selection and vendor negotiations to invitations and registration, to technology and media relations. In total 700+ people participated in a full day of discussions on November 14, including the Governor, the Mayor, the County President and many other public officials, more than 20 CEOS of major corporations, celebrities in sports and entertainment, leaders in the justice system, schools, business, healthcare and advocacy.

Marketing and communications were a critical component of the effort, helping to raise awareness and build momentum. We helped to identify and focus the message, aligning a broad group around a common mission. We built and launched a website in less than 3 weeks. We utilized our relationships with the media to begin the process of storytelling. We developed a suite of video bolster a social media effort.


We raised more than $850,000 for Kennedy Forum Illinois in just four months.

We built a powerhouse Organizing Committee of 48 political, civic, business and community leaders.

On November 13, 2014, the Kennedy Forum Illinois launched, convening more than 700 stakeholders for a full day.  The event included a morning panel at the City Club with more than 200 attendees, an afternoon forum for more than 400 participants featuring national expert speakers and celebrities, and an evening gala dinner, attended by more than 450 Illinois leaders including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Lieutenant Governor-Elect Evelyn Sanguinetti, federal state and local lawmakers along with more than 20 CEOs of major Illinois companies.

Kennedy Forum Illinois garnered nearly 57 million media impressions and secured coverage from the City’s most important media outlets including the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Tonight and four local news stations.

The Kennedy Forum Illinois is now firmly established, with a strong structure, budget to support the work and established leadership.

Since the launch event on November, KFI has completed a strategic plan and is now implementing measurable objectives. Ideaction Corps remains a partner in this important work.

“I think that this event was the most compelling and compassionate event that I have ever attended…I would like to be a part of this movement because it is so important that we build a strong foundation for support for so many people. ”

Simone Cook, Blue Cross Blue Shield

“Feigenholtz told the Daily Whale that she expects Rauner to attempt to limit the role of the state government. With that in mind, she pointed to the Kennedy Forum Illinois as an example of how government can partner with the private sector to drive progress. ”

Daily Whale “Q&A With Illinois House Assistant Majority Leader Sara Feigenholtz" November 10, 2014