Honoree Year: 2015
University of Notre Dame
Mendoza College of Business
Area of Impact:
Bob Burke was just out of college and working for Arthur Andersen in Chicago when he came up with a business plan to help poverty-stricken families on the city's south side through assisting them with tax refunds and financial literacy. He eventually evolved the plan into Ladder Up, an organization that began in 1994 and to date has served more than 225,000 families and returned over 475 million USD to working poor families through the Tax Assistance Program (TAP) and LIFT (Life Improving Financial Tools). Burke, who was named one of just six Chicagoans of the year in 2012, is a living example of the Mendoza mission to impact social good through the power of business.
In 2001, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill nominated and appointed Burke to the Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Advisory Board—a national 100-person board representing the interests and concerns of more than 120 million taxpayers across the United States.
In recognition of the impact Burke had on the local community, he was awarded the Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago magazine in 2012. The award honors Chicago residents who have made significant contributions for the betterment of their city and for society as a whole.
With his early focus on helping the citizens in need in his immediate vicinity, Burke conceived an innovative plan to first serve his community and then grow his business into the success that it is today. As an active member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), a global network of successful young business leaders across more than 130 countries, Burke continues to share his leadership influence among peers worldwide and learn from them in turn.