Thomas D. Kuczmarski is a co-founder of Chicago Innovation, which celebrates, educates and connects Chicago innovators through year-round programming and its annual awards gala in October.
After years of feting local innovators, Kuczmarski found himself the recipient of an honor himself at the 2017 Innovation Awards, as well-wishers celebrated his recovery from an accident that broke his neck and spine, leaving his right leg paralyzed. After a tree at his Michigan home fell on his head and severely injured him in June, he spent two months in rehab.
Kuczmarski said he’d considered relinquishing hosting duties, ending a 15-ceremony run.
“I thought about it. And then, I said, ‘Nope. I’m going to do it one way or the other,'” he said.
“We are in awe of your strength, your perseverance, your willpower — everything that makes you a role model to all of us on the team,” said Luke Tanen, the ceremony’s co-host and Chicago Innovation’s executive director, presenting him with a surprise “Resilient Innovator” award.
Kuczmarski teaches product and service innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and is the author of six books on innovation and leadership. As president and founder of Kuczmarski Innovation, he works with businesses of all sizes.
Previously, he was a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton. He earned an MBA from Columbia University’s Columbia Business School and holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where he was named an International Fellow of the University. He received a B.A. in French from the College of the Holy Cross.
He lives in Chicago with his wife, Susan. They have three sons.