Altria Group and Aon Corporation CEOs to be Honored by Chicago United as 2009 Bridge Award Recipients

Altria Group CEO Michael E. Szymanczyk and Aon Corporation CEO Gregory Case recognized for exemplary leadership in corporate diversity and inclusion

Sep 23, 2009, 08:00 ET from Chicago United

CHICAGO, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago United, a membership organization that promotes corporate diversity and inclusion, today announced the recipients of the 2009 National and Chicago Bridge Awards. Michael E. Szymanczyk, chairman and chief executive officer of Altria Group, Inc., will receive the National Bridge Award for exemplary practices of a Fortune 500 corporation and Gregory Case, president and chief executive officer of Aon Corporation, will receive the Chicago Bridge Award for supporting the development of a vibrant and richly diverse business community in the Chicago region.

The awards will be presented at Chicago United's 6th Annual Changing Color of Leadership Conference and Bridge Awards Dinner on November 10 at the Hilton Chicago. A committee of corporate and non-profit executives, entrepreneurs and academics selected Szymanczyk and Case as the Bridge Award recipients based on an examination of publicly-available data along with select qualitative attributes of the company, such as supplier and workforce diversity.

The National Bridge Award represents the first national award that honors a CEO who is an advocate for multiracial diversity in corporate governance and executive level management. This award brings visibility to those who have managed change, and inspires others to follow.

"I have the privilege of leading a company with a rich history of supporting diversity and inclusion at all levels, including our board of directors," said Szymanczyk. "We believe that engaging our entire organization to bring diverse perspectives together in real conversations about business issues produces the best thinking and the best results. The prestigious National Bridge Award recognition is a testament to Altria's commitment to diversity and inclusion and I am honored to receive the award on behalf of our companies, our board and our employees."

Case said he is proud that Aon's diversity initiatives are recognized not only in the risk management and human capital industries, but also in the broader business community.

"I am humbled and honored to accept the Bridge Award on behalf of my 37,000 global Aon colleagues who are committed to providing an inclusive environment to our firm," said Case. "By embracing the needs of our clients and the talent imperatives of the communities we serve, and by cascading our diversity strategy throughout our global organization, Aon continues to focus on hiring the best, building the best, and being the best."

Both Altria and Aon serve as exemplary models for companies who want to better implement corporate diversity and inclusion best practices that work, said Gloria Castillo, president of Chicago United.

"With the continued leadership of companies like Altria and Aon starting at the very top with their diverse boards of directors, the business community has role models to successfully implement sustainable diversity and inclusion initiatives," Castillo said. "Chicago United is happy to honor those who demonstrate such leadership even as business priorities undergo change in response to the challenging economy."

Past National Bridge Award recipients include Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer of Pepsico Inc.; Ronald A. Williams, chairman and chief executive officer of Aetna Inc.; and H. Lee Scott, Jr., retired president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Past Chicago Bridge Award recipients include John W. Rowe, chairman and chief executive officer, Exelon Corporation; James Skinner, vice chairman and chief executive officer, McDonald's Corporation; and Robert W. Lane, chairman and chief executive officer, Deere & Company.

About Chicago United

Chicago United is the catalyst driving business leaders to maximize economic impact for all races. Created in 1968, Chicago United was the first group to bring together racially diverse CEOs with a common goal of creating a stronger social and economic climate for everyone in Chicago. To achieve sustainable impact, members focus on multiracial leadership development in corporate governance and executive level management; developing a pipeline of future multiracial executive leaders; and cultivating multiracial business partnerships. Through a fierce brand of constructive conversation, Chicago United fosters inclusion and provides an opportunity for senior executives from all racial and ethnic groups to learn from one another, confront and break down racial barriers and achieve shared objectives. For more information please visit

About Altria Group, Inc.

Altria (NYSE: MO) directly or indirectly owns 100% of each of Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, John Middleton Co., Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (SMWE) and Philip Morris Capital Corporation. In addition, Altria holds a continuing economic and voting interest in SABMiller plc. The brand portfolios of Altria's tobacco operating companies include such well-known names as Marlboro, Copenhagen, Skoal and Black & Mild. SMWE produces and markets premium wines sold under 20 different labels including Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Erath, as well as exclusively distributes and markets Antinori products in the United States. Trademarks and service marks related to Altria or its operating companies referenced in this release are the property of, or licensed by, Altria or its subsidiaries. For more information please visit

About Aon Corporation

Aon Corporation (NYSE: AOC) is the leading global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human capital consulting. Through its more than 37,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon readily delivers distinctive client value via innovative and effective risk management and workforce productivity solutions. Aon's industry-leading global resources and technical expertise are delivered locally through more than 500 offices in more than 120 countries. Named the world's best broker by Euromoney magazine's 2008 and 2009 Insurance Survey, Aon also ranked highest on Business Insurance's listing of the world's largest insurance brokers based on commercial retail, wholesale, reinsurance and personal lines brokerage revenues in 2008. A.M. Best deemed Aon the number one insurance broker based on brokerage revenues in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and Aon was voted best insurance intermediary, best reinsurance intermediary and best employee benefits consulting firm in 2007 and 2008 by the readers of Business Insurance. For more information on Aon, log onto

SOURCE Chicago United