Major Chicago fundraisers, friends turn out for their candidates

Exiting John Buck Co.

Jack Buck, son of John Buck Co. founder John Buck, will be leaving the real estate development firm to found an affiliated company to be called, for now at least, The Free Marketeers.

For three years, the John Buck Co. will have right of first refusal on any development deals Jack Buck sources. And the firm is paying the younger Buck a retainer in exchange for that right.

"He has helped bring in $400 million worth of development in the last 15 months, but most of his initiatives don't really meet our objectives," the elder Buck said. "They're really not related to our core business."

He cited his son's proposal to build a version of a Yotel — a hotel of chic but tiny rooms — as one such idea that was smart but didn't fit within the company's plans.

John Buck, 68, said he and firm principal Blake Johnson, who returned to the company in 2009, would handle new business development — along with Jack. The elder Buck said he was not prepared to discuss succession plans for the firm.

Jack Buck will remain a shareholder and will move his team into new offices by the end of the year. He declined to comment for this story.

Polk Bros. CEO named

Gillian Darlow, a principal at the Civic Consulting Alliance, has been named CEO of the nonprofit Polk Bros. Foundation, effective Jan. 7.

Darlow, 45, replaces Sandra Guthman, who will continue as the foundation's board chairman through November 2018. Executive Director Nikki Will Stein is retiring at the end of the year.

Polk Bros. was founded in 1988 and has since given more than $300 million to Chicago nonprofits, according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Melissa Harris can be reached at or 312-222-4582. Twitter @chiconfidential or