Dr. Smith Receives Posthumous Order of Lincoln, State of Illinois's Highest Honor


Joanne C. Smith, MD, former president & CEO, was celebrated this weekend, exactly two months following her death. On Nov. 6, Dr. Smith received the Order of Lincoln — the state’s highest honor that recognizes Illinoisans for outstanding achievements and dedication to public service.

At the ceremony, Dr. Smith's husband, Rory Repicky, accepted the award on her behalf.

  • Click here to watch the ceremony, starting with Dr. Smith's induction.

“When you extended the invitation to me, I decided the best way to accept this award would be to share, literally, what Joanne had planned to say to you this evening,” he said.

He then went on to share Dr. Smith’s speech, which included the following passage: “Our patients are the bravest, most inspiring, most creative people I've ever met. They show courage most of us will thankfully never have to call upon. They surmount challenges we can't even imagine. I accept this great honor on their behalf because they reflect the character, virtue, courage and life-changing work of our great president, Abraham Lincoln.”

John Rogers, director, Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics at Northwestern University, also was honored. He paid special tribute to Dr. Smith in his remarks. 

“I knew Joanne pretty well in her role as president of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab,” he said. “It would have been a tremendous honor for me to have been able to share this stage and share this moment with her, in person, today; but I'm confident she's here with us in spirit. And so I'd like to say: congratulations Joanne, Lincoln Laureate for 2021.”

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