Barrington’s Cultural Commission Hosts Fourth Annual Town-Warming Event Featuring Condoleezza Rice

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Amid the pandemic winter of 2021, the Village of Barrington’s Cultural Commission re-created a Depression-era Barrington tradition called the “Town-Warming.” On Saturday, January 23, 2021, more than 200 people gathered virtually via Zoom to immerse themselves in a day-long speaker series that was keynoted by the 66th Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who participated in virtual chat with his good friend and Town-Warming sponsor Greg Brown, Chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions. Presenting sponsor of the event was Northern Trust. Mr. Brown also spoke with former U.S. Commerce Secretary William M. Daley about “Post-Event Politics in America.”

Titled “What Now? Looking Ahead to the Post-Pandemic World,” this 4th annual Town-Warming featured a number of speakers and panelists of local and national significance who spoke on important topics of the day.

The event kicked off with a welcome from Village of Barrington President Karen Darch, who has been the visionary behind the Town-Warming. She was followed by Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque, senior pastor of the Community Church of Barrington, who prepared the audience for the day with a courageous vision of coming together as a community and being open to a wide variety of thoughts and perspectives.

The first session featured a discussion of the post-election politics with Brown and Daley, where the pair discussed the tumultuous events of the past several months – and the past several years – and how the country might move forward after this period.

Next up was a panel discussion about the vision for the future of the post-pandemic world in the realms of transportation, education, retail, and office work. Participants were Dr. Avis Proctor, president of Harper College; Joyce St. Clair, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Northern Trust; Ron Lunt, Office Division Partner for Hamilton Partners; and Jessica Hector-Hsu, Director, Planning and Market Development, Regional Transportation Authority.

The panelists each gave insightful remarks about some of the trends they believe will begin to evolve post-pandemic, including what commuting might look like, what a hybrid version of the work-home arrangement might bring, how office space and commercial development might change, and how education will certainly evolve after the pandemic wanes.
Following a break for lunch, guests were provided with a historical perspective on the role that Barrington’s White House played during the previous pandemic, in 1917-18 by Barrington’s pre-eminent historian, Barbara Benson.

The highlight of the day was the keynote presentation, a virtual chat between Motorola Chairman and CEO Greg Brown and the 66th U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. The pair discussed a wide-ranging slate of topics, including the current political climate, where she said, “We must re-dedicate ourselves to a common American purpose.” She also related stories from her time as Secretary of State, discussed relations with China and Russia, and even Dr. Rice’s interest in music, ice skating, golf, and football.

Barrington Village President Karen Darch said of the event, “Our fourth annual Town-Warming was certainly different this year in that we could not be in person, but it was extraordinary just the same. What wonderful discussions and perspectives we heard from our panelists and from Mr. Daley and Dr. Rice. This event was conceived by our Barrington forebears in the 1930s and 1940s as a way to bring our community together during the dark, cold days of winter in order to hear interesting perspectives from a wide variety of thought-provoking speakers. I am so thrilled that we have been able to bring this tradition back in the modern day. I would like to thank all our speakers, as well as the Barrington Cultural Commission and our presenting sponsor, Northern Trust, and our keynote speaker sponsors, Greg and Anna Brown.”

About the Village of Barrington 

Located just 40 miles from downtown Chicago, the Village of Barrington offers unique access to both the big city hustle & bustle plus the scenic beauty of a charming village setting surrounded by a wide variety of destinations for indoor & outdoor recreation including The Catlow Theater, restaurants, cafes, shops, parks, forest preserves, horse and hiking trails. Learn more at

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