Sheila Jones, coordinator of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s African American Network, was one of four individuals honored by Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza at a Women’s History Month Celebration on March 16 at the James R. Thompson Center.

At the ceremony, Mendoza awarded four outstanding female community leaders with certificates of recognition for their achievements. Along with Jones, the honorees consisted of Jo Ann Rooney, president of Loyola University of Chicago; Shari E. Runner, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, and Patricia Maza-Pittsford, dean of the Chicago Consular Corp and consulate general of El Salvador. Mendoza recognized the recipients for their dedication and commitment, noting that this work had earned them “both respect and success, and has created tangible, meaningful contributions for your community.”

Jones, who helped to establish the CSOA’s African American Network with encouragement from Music Director Riccardo Muti in the 2016-17 season, accepted the certificate from Mendoza, saying “If it’s possible, I’m not interested, but if it’s impossible, you’ve got my attention. As women, we do what has to be done, no matter what the odds.”

The mission of the CSOA’s African American Network is to engage Chicago’s culturally rich African American community through the sharing and exchanging of unforgettable musical experiences while building relationships for future generations. The AAN seeks to serve and encourage individuals and families, educators and students, musicians and composers, and churches and businesses to discover and experience the timeless beauty of music.

To learn more about becoming involved, contact Jones at or call (312) 294-3045. The AAN’s next event is “A Celebration of Women in Music — Composing the Black Chicago Renaissance,” a lecture and recital April 12 by pianist, music teacher and music scholar Samantha Ege. For more details, click here.

TOP: Sheila Jones (from left), a representative for Shari E. Runner, Patricia Maza-Pittsford and Jo Ann Rooney receive certificates of recognition from Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza (center). | Photo: Daina Fischer/CSO