Condoleezza Rice keynote speaker for Barrington event open to all via Zoom

Barrington's Town-Warming event will have its most prominent keynote speaker to date, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a Zoom event with more affordable ticket prices than usual.

The theme of the Jan. 23 event will be "What Now? Looking Ahead to the Post-Pandemic World." Another keynote speaker will be William M. Daley, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

The event typically sells out quickly and is held at Barrington's White House, where capacity is limited to about 200 people including the upstairs ballroom and a livestream on the first floor, village spokeswoman Patty Dowd Schmitz said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's event will be on Zoom.

"There's a nice element to the fact that we can open it up virtually to an unlimited amount of people who'd like to see it," Dowd Schmitz said.

Tickets normally are $150 per person, but they will be $75 per household this year because multiple people can watch on one screen, she said.

The event is presented by Barrington's cultural commission and is made possible by Motorola CEO Greg Brown and his wife, Anna, who sponsor the keynote speakers, and Northern Trust, the presenting sponsor.

The Browns are Barrington Hills residents. Greg Brown was a panel speaker in 2018, then became actively involved in securing and sponsoring keynote speakers by leveraging his personal relationships, Dowd Schmitz said.

"That has really benefitted the village," she said.

Brown will have a virtual "fireside chat" with Rice, who served as U.S. Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009 under President George W. Bush and now is director of the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California.

Brown will discuss post-election politics with Daley, who led the U.S. Department of Commerce under President Bill Clinton. Daley also served for a year as chief of staff to President Barack Obama and unsuccessfully ran for mayor in Chicago in 2019.

A four-person panel will discuss "Future Trends After the Pandemic" and will include Jessica Hector-Hsu of the Regional Transportation Authority, Ron Lunt of Hamilton Partners, Harper College President Avis Proctor and Joyce St. Clair of The Northern Trust Co.

Also, historian Barbara Benson will give a perspective on the role of Barrington's White House during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

This will be the fourth annual edition of the Town-Warming in its relaunched format. Originally held in the late 1930s and 1940s, it was revived thanks to the efforts of Village President Karen Darch.

"We are so pleased to be able to offer the Town-Warming once again in 2021, albeit virtually," Darch said.

Previous keynote speakers were Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, in 2020; Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian, in 2019; and Hank Paulson, former secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and his wife, Wendy, in 2018.

The event usually nets $7,500 to $10,000 for the village's cultural commission, which in normal years takes on the expense of renting the space and offers a reception with catering.

The hope is this year's proceeds will match or exceed a typical year, Dowd Schmitz said. The commission has an annual budget of about $53,000 and uses its funds to provide cultural events throughout the village.

Barrington's Town-Warming is 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan 23. For information visit

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