A passion for sports, and alma mater
Annual Fund co-chairs Bob Hayward and Christine Brennan strive to keep Northwestern on top
A common passion for sports led Bob Hayward (C94, L97) and Christine Brennan (J80, GJ81) in decidedly different directions.
Hayward, a corporate lawyer and diehard Northwestern football supporter, made himself a fixture at Wildcats games—including one played on his wedding day. Brennan, on the other hand, opted for the objective sanctum of the press box and is now one of the nation’s most respected sports columnists and TV and radio commentators.
But the star reporter and super fan have found common ground in support of their alma mater, as both have devoted their time to serve as co-chairs for the Northwestern Annual Fund.
“Anything I can do for Northwestern, I will—it’s that simple,” said Brennan, who is a University trustee. “NU allowed me to turn my passion for journalism into the adventure of a lifetime. I don’t even use the words ‘job’ or ‘work’ to describe what I do. How do you begin to say thanks for something like that?”
Click here to support the Annual Fund.
Added Hayward: “Northwestern has a world-class reputation—that’s what attracted me to attend the School of Communication and the School of Law in the early 1990s, and that’s what led me to support our student athletes. It’s also what motivates me every day to help build upon our past successes and maintain Northwestern as a consistent leader in the global marketplace.”
The global marketplace is a realm he knows quite well. Hayward is a partner in the corporate transactional group of Kirkland and Ellis LLP, one of the world’s leading law firms. He made the prestigious Best Lawyers in America list and was recognized as one of the leading public company corporate lawyers in the U.S. under the age of 40 by Law 360.
A love of Northwestern football was also “hard-wired in his DNA.” Raised in a family with multiple Northwestern graduates, Hayward has attended games since he was two years old and has since passed that passion on to his three young sons. He is now president of the Northwestern Gridiron Network, a giving society that supports Coach Pat Fitzgerald and the football program.
Brennan, whose USA Today column makes her the most widely-read female sports columnist in the country, laid the foundation for her future at Medill and as managing editor of The Daily Northwestern. The professional training and lifelong friendships she formed made it “only natural” for her to give back to the school.
Her support of Northwestern also reflects her belief in gender equity. Even before becoming nationally recognized for her coverage of the Olympic Games, Brennan was a trailblazer. She was the first woman to be hired as a full-time sportswriter at The Miami Herald and then moved to The Washington Post where she became the first woman to cover the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
It should come as no surprise that Brennan chose to support Wildcats women’s athletics. In addition to speaking to teams, she helped create a speed-networking and mentoring event for female student athletes. She also helped initiate a similar program for both male and female students at Medill.
“Basically, it’s journalism and sports for me,” Brennan said of her philanthropy. “There’s a shock, eh?”
In addition to football, Hayward has made his presence felt at Northwestern through support of the School of Communication, Northwestern Law, and other areas.
“Having so many personal touch points to Northwestern makes it difficult to support all my affinities,” he said. “That’s why the Annual Fund is such a powerful tool. I firmly believe that every dollar I contribute makes a difference, which motivates me to encourage others to contribute as well.”
Added Brennan: “In these challenging economic times, it’s essential that we give today’s students the same opportunities—if not better—that we had as students. Only by giving back can we ensure NU remains one of the nation’s top universities.”
Click here to support your passion.
Home page image: Ray Whitehouse, The Daily Northwestern.