Leaders & Legacies: Daniel L. Goodwin, business, community and philanthropic leader

Leaders & Legacies: Stories of Local Impact is an ongoing series brought to you in partnership by the Daily Herald and the Legacy Society of DuPage Foundation. It highlights the inspiring stories of local individuals, families, and businesses that have made or are making a lasting impact for our community through their generosity and leadership.

The series continues with Daniel L. Goodwin.

In honor of DuPage County's 175th anniversary seven years ago, the DuPage County Historical Museum Foundation established the "Making a Historical Difference Award." With this award they sought to recognize a DuPage County citizen who provided leadership, business growth, economic impact, philanthropy, and voluntary civic service that has made "a lasting, positive impact on the quality of life for the residents of DuPage."

The bar was set high. DuPage had many potential candidates. They conducted extensive vetting from around the community, which included local business and civic leaders who had woven themselves into the fabric of the county. It did not take long for the selection committee to coalesce around Daniel L. Goodwin, chairman, CEO and founder of The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc., headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois.

"Dan is a model citizen, businessman, philanthropist, and leader within our county," said Michael Benard, executive director of Wheaton Park District and overseer of the DuPage County Historical Museum, when he presented the award to Goodwin in October 2014.

"Dan has generously contributed his time, countless talents and resources to improve our quality of life. All of us in DuPage County are the fortunate beneficiaries of his generosity," said DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.

Dan Goodwin founded New Directions Housing Corp. to address affordable housing in Illinois. The 501(c)3 nonprofit developed the Fox Pointe Apartments, an affordable housing complex in Aurora, Illinois, where more than 1,300 needy families made their home. Courtesy of Dan Goodwin

While Goodwin has been a leader of historic proportions in DuPage County, his impact has also been important on the state and national levels in areas as diverse as affordable housing, higher education, the real estate investment industry, and good government.

It is not an understatement to say that Goodwin's legacy is a direct result of a purpose-driven life focused on doing well by doing good. Still, recognition in his home county is very special to him.

Carol and Dan Goodwin with former President George W. Bush at a 2014 fundraiser in Oak Brook for Dan's nonprofit New Directions Housing Corp. Courtesy of Dan Goodwin

"This was one of the most meaningful awards I have ever received because it was given by my peers, friends, and neighbors of DuPage County, where I have lived for 40 years," Goodwin said. "This is an award from the heart of the people that know me best, and I was touched by this honor."

Goodwin is perhaps best known as one of the country's foremost real estate investment leaders. In the world of commercial real estate and commercial real estate investments, Goodwin has been a creative force and passionate advocate for innovation, integrity and wealth creation for more than 50 years.

Under his leadership, Inland has grown from humble beginnings into one of the nation's largest commercial real estate and finance groups. Today, Inland is a national enterprise with billions in commercial real estate transactions on behalf of itself and hundreds of thousands of investors since 1968.

Dan Goodwin, second from right, with his business partners, Robert D. Parks, Robert H. Baum, and G. Joseph Cosenza for the public listing of Inland Real Estate Corp. on the New York Stock Exchange on June 9, 2004. It was the first of several public listings for Inland. Courtesy of Dan Goodwin

Goodwin is the recipient of hundreds of local and national business, civic and philanthropic awards. A partial list includes The American Business Awards Executive of the Year, The Executive Club of Chicago's Corporate Citizenship Award, Illinois Association of Realtors Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Investment Program Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been inducted into the halls of fame of the National Association of Realtors, Illinois Association of Realtors, and Chicago Association of Realtors.

Still, his heart and passion for work and civic engagement are just as strongly rooted in his home county of DuPage, where he has contributed outstanding entrepreneurial and business leadership by employing hundreds in the county and stimulating the local economy and tax base by keeping Inland headquartered in Oak Brook.

He has personally contributed generously to local charities and civic organizations, with a particular emphasis on affordable housing, good government, and higher education - three causes that are near and dear to his heart.

After a state budget crisis in 2014 blocked the funds needed to repair the aging DuPage County Historical Museum roof, Dan Goodwin suggested a change in roofing materials to reduce the project's cost by 50%, and Inland's charitable arm donated the needed funds to complete the project. Courtesy of DuPage County Historical Museum

A man of action, Goodwin has also volunteered his time and talents as a board member and strategic adviser for 16 local organizations, including Catholic Charities, March of Dimes, The Better Boys Foundation, Oak Brook Jaycees, DuPage Airport Authority, Benedictine University, DuPage Pads, and the DuPage County Affordable Housing Task Force. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees of Northeastern Illinois University for more than 10 years.

"In business, you're always pursuing growth and higher profits. That is how success is measured," Goodwin said. "However, I've long believed that pursuing healthy profits can also be achieved by engendering social good. There is a responsibility to do good when one has done well. For me, that is a more rewarding definition of success."

Affordable housing is very important to Goodwin. As a teacher early in his career, he experienced firsthand the challenges many families experienced trying to find quality living space at an affordable price.

"I lived in rental housing most of my early life," he said. "My parents, their three sons, and my grandmother lived in a small apartment with an extra foldout bed."

With his bachelor's and master's degrees from Illinois universities, Goodwin went to work as a Chicago Public Schools science teacher on the city's West Side.

After teaching for five years, a fascination with economics led to real estate investing during off-school hours.

The real estate market in the Chicago area provided many entrepreneurial opportunities. Back in the late 1960s and '70s, real estate was not as technical and allowed beginners to show some immediate success.

Dan Goodwin and former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar at a statewide conference in Springfield, Illinois, of volunteers of nonprofit organizations. He also served on Edgar's 1991 transition team. Courtesy of Dan Goodwin

"Dan observed that real estate was likely to always be a basic human need. Most importantly, he was good at it," said former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar.

As his business empire grew, Goodwin never forgot the struggles of his own family and his students' families who had difficulty accessing affordable housing.

In 1991, Goodwin wrote and published a study on affordable housing in DuPage County. This study, and his involvement with a county task force, helped in the implementation of an affordable housing policy for the county. The policy has continued to serve as a national model. He served for about 10 years on the board of the Illinois Housing Development Authority Trust Fund, including serving as its vice chairman. Additionally, Goodwin also formed New Directions Housing Corporation, a nonprofit organization that has built or remodeled affordable housing units throughout Illinois. For these efforts, he has received numerous awards, including the prestigious National Association of Realtors Good Neighbor Award.

"My aim has always been to democratize real estate, to help all people gain access to the dignity of calling a place their home."

Goodwin's local engagement also extends to large public-private institutions. As a lifelong advocate for good, responsible government, Goodwin has often been willing to contribute his business skills in helping local community projects succeed.

In 2002, Goodwin was appointed to the DuPage Airport Authority by DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom. Soon after, he was unanimously picked to head the board.

Before Goodwin, the DuPage Airport had been running at a loss and carrying a debt load of $23 million, despite collecting millions in property taxes.

Under Dan Goodwin's chairmanship from 2003-2013, the DuPage Airport Authority turned a decade of operating losses into annual profits for the first time, with all airport debt repaid. The West Chicago airport was generating income annually for the county, becoming a model for regional airports around the nation. In 2016, the flight center was renamed The Daniel L. Goodwin Flight Center. Daily Herald file photo, 2012

Under Goodwin's chairmanship, the airport was able to turn a decade of operating losses into annual operating profits for the first time, and all airport debt was permanently repaid. For the first time, the government-owned airport was generating income annually for the surrounding area. In recognition of his accomplishment, the DuPage Flight Center was named The Daniel L. Goodwin Flight Center in 2016.

"It's all in the quality of the team you build," Goodwin said. "I look for people with genuine passion because I've found that success is often closely related to the enthusiasm of the participants. It's a principle that's never failed me."

In 2017, the Better Government Association of Chicago awarded Goodwin its Watchdog Award, which seeks to honor an exemplary individual who has made a lasting contribution to good government, business, philanthropic and civic life. The BGA has since named the award after Goodwin. "Goodwin promotes ethics and good government because it's the right thing to do," said DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin.

Inland's reputation for honesty and fairness serves as such an example. Goodwin has received many industry lifetime achievement awards for his lasting impact on the commercial real estate industry, including the Illinois Association of Realtors in Springfield and the Investment Program Association in Washington, D.C. From 2011 to 2018, he served as the founding chairman of the Public Non-listed Real Estate Investment Trust Council for the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts in Washington, D.C.

"As industry leaders, it is incumbent upon Inland to not only provide a good product or service," Goodwin explains. "We also have to empower our employees to do the right thing by our customers, and to stand up for what is right and ethical. The true testament to the integrity of a business is found in what it does to solve client problems so that the problem doesn't occur again."

Inland has won the coveted Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics an unprecedented three times. It is one of the highest honors any business can receive from the BBB. "This is a prestigious award to receive once, let alone three times," commented Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. In 2019, Goodwin was the recipient of the BBB's Torchbearer Award.

Carol and Dan Goodwin at the 2015 dedication of Benedictine University's Daniel L. Goodwin College of Business building. Courtesy of Dan Goodwin

Despite having left the classroom in the 1970s, Goodwin has not strayed far from his roots as a teacher. "Dan's classroom is everywhere," said Charles Gregory, president of Benedictine University in Lisle. "He never stops educating those around him."

Gregory has an immense appreciation for Goodwin's integrity, expertise, and business acumen. In fact, Benedictine has benefited from his stewardship as vice chairman of the university for more than 30 years. In 2016, Benedictine's School of Business was named in Goodwin's honor.

Goodwin explained that he shares the university's values-based philosophies in life and business.

"I am a firm believer in capitalism with regulations so that people aren't exploited," he said. "If business is values-centered, it can make a difference. That's what we do at Inland, and that's what Benedictine University teaches."

Carol and Dan Goodwin were named 2015 Philanthropists of the Year by the West Suburban Philanthropic Network for their expertise, time, and service to many charitable institutions in DuPage County. Courtesy of Dan Goodwin

Teacher. Leader. Businessman. Citizen of DuPage.

Dan Goodwin has built a multibillion-dollar business headquartered in Oak Brook that dominates its industry. But he has also dedicated his life to being a source for good, making a lasting, indelible mark on DuPage County.

• The Leaders & Legacies series is brought to you by the Legacy Society of DuPage Foundation. Suggestions for future stories can be sent to Alice Wood, director of gift planning, at Interested in learning more about how you can make an impact or create a legacy for your community and favorite causes? Visit or call (630) 665-5556.

A special thanks to the following individuals who contributed to this story: Mike Benard, executive director of the Wheaton Park District; Bob Berlin, DuPage County State's Attorney; Steve Bernas, president and chief executive officer of the BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois; Dan Cronin, DuPage County Board chairman; Jim Edgar, former governor of Illinois; Charles Gregory, president, Benedictine University; and Bob Schillerstrom, past DuPage County Board Chairman.

Daniel L. Goodwin — Select honors and awards

• Catholic Charities — Affordable Housing Leader of the Year Award

• Chicago Metropolitan Coalition on Aging — Leading Provider of Affordable Housing for Chicago’s Senior Citizens

• DuPage Area Association of Business and Industry — First Place, Excellence in Business Award

• Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities — Employer of the Year

• Hall of Fame for Chicago Association of Realtors; Illinois Association of Realtors; and National Association of Realtors

• Little Friends Handicapped Infant Rescue Program — Outstanding Benefactor Award

• March of Dimes — Life Achievement Award

• Northeastern Illinois University — Lifetime Meritorious Service Award

• Oak Brook Area Association of Commerce and Industry — Corporate Leader of the Year

• Oak Brook Jaycees — Outstanding Business Leader of the Year Award

• PADS Inc. — Leading Provider of Transitional Housing Award for the Homeless People of DuPage County

• YWCA, DuPage District — Corporate Recognition Award for Commitment to the Advancement of Women in the Workplace

• Northeastern Illinois University — Honorary doctorate

• Better Business Bureau — Winner of the 2009, 2014 and 2017 Ethics in Business Award

• National Association of Women Business Owners — Visionary Partner Award

• Little City — Man of the Year

• Better Boys Foundation — Two-time chairman of NFL Players Association Awards benefiting inner-city youth

• Austin Career Education Center — Leading Supporter of Literacy Award

• Illinois Housing Development Authority — Trust Fund Award for Outstanding Contribution to Affordable Housing

• Benedictine University — Outstanding Trustee of the Decade Award

• DuPage County Airport Authority — Outstanding Leadership Award

• DuPage County Affordable Housing Task Force — Highest Achievement Award for Affordable Housing Efforts

• The Business Ledger — Outstanding DuPage Business Leader Award

• DuPage Home Ownership Center — Robert Christ Award for Outstanding Service to Affordable Housing

• Boy Scouts of America — Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award

• Women’s Council of Realtors — Elevate Award in recognition of advancement opportunities for women throughout the Inland companies

• Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce — Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award, honoring Inland for the large number of women executives in senior management positions

• DuPage County Historical Museum — Making a Historical Difference Award

• West Suburban Philanthropic Network — 2015 Philanthropist of the Year

• Village of Oak Brook — Resolution of Appreciation

• Investment Program Association — Lifetime Achievement Award

• National Association of Realtors — 2015 Good Neighbor Award winner

• American Business Awards — Gold Stevie Award for Executive of the Year-Real Estate

• Better Government Association Watchdog Award for 2016; the award later named in honor of Daniel L. Goodwin

• Illinois Association of Realtors — 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

• The Executives’ Club of Chicago — 2018 Corporate Citizen of the Year Award

• Better Business Bureau — 2019 Torchbearer Award for Ethics

• NAREIT Founding chair of the Public Non-Listed REIT Council

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