John A. Canning Jr. ’66
B.A., Denison University
J.D., Duke University
Citation awarded on Saturday, June 4, 2016
John (“Tony”) Canning graduated from Denison University in 1966 and Duke Law School in 1969. After his graduation from Duke, he joined the law department at The First National Bank of Chicago, and in 1980, he was promoted from assistant general counsel to president and chief executive officer of First Chicago Venture Capital, a sister subsidiary to the bank. In 1992, John and 13 associates left the firm and founded Madison Dearborn Partners (“MDP”), where he served as chief executive officer, a position he held until 2007, at which time he became chairman. MDP specializes in management buyout and special equity investing, and has raised more than $21 billion from investors to conduct its business of making private equity investments. Over its 23 year history MDP has invested more than $17 billion, achieving a compounded annual return of 20 percent.
John currently serves on the Board of Directors of Corning Incorporated, Exelon Corporation, Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, and Sage Products, LLC, and is a Life Trustee of Northwestern University. His extensive community service includes his time as co-chairman of the Big Shoulders Fund, director and chairman of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, director and former chairman of The Economic Club of Chicago, trustee and chairman of the Museum of Science and Industry, former chairman of The Chicago Community Trust, trustee and former chairman of The Field Museum, and former director and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
As co-chairman of the Big Shoulders Fund, John has helped raise more than $100 million for Chicago’s inner-city parochial schools, which serve 24,000 students, 80 percent of whom are minorities, 62 percent are from families who are living at or below the poverty level. In addition to this, each year, the Cannings also provide 100 scholarships to inner-city students. They are the principal sponsors of WINGS (Women In Need Growing Stronger), which provides more than 40,000 nights of shelter and other comprehensive services to abused women and their children.