CHICAGO — The Chicago-based Women in Public Finance organization will recognize professionals in the field — including one of its founding members, Standard & Poor’s senior managing director Sarah Eubanks, who is receiving a lifetime achievement award — at a reception here Thursday.

The group last year established the Founders’ Awards, honoring women in three categories — lifetime achievement, “She’s our Hero,” and “Rising Star.” Dana Bunting of Goldman Sachs & Co. will receive the hero award and DeShana Forney of the Illinois Housing Development Authority will receive the rising star award.

The lifetime achievement award recognizes the accomplishments of a woman who has worked in municipals for at least a decade, demonstrating skill, drive integrity and vision. The hero category recognizes a woman who successfully juggles career, self-development, family, and civic activities while the rising star award honors a professional who has worked less than a decade in the business and demonstrates skill and intelligence that are likely to have a long-term impact on the field.

“These awards highlight the accomplishments of three very distinguished women who are truly dedicated to their profession, and who serve as role models to other women in public finance. I think the awards are significant because they help remind us how far women have come in our field,” said Women in Public Finance president Melanie Shaker, an analyst at Fitch Ratings. The three were selected from dozens nominated and the winners were selected by a committee that included several of the organization’s founding members, current board members, and last year’s recipients.

Eubanks joined Standard & Poor’s to open its regional Chicago office in 1994. She relocated to New York City last year to work on special projects and to launch an executive development program and was promoted to a senior managing director and chief of staff.

Eubanks grew up New York but moved to Michigan to attend graduate school, starting her career as a community, housing and economic development planner for a Flint, Mich. regional planning organization. She went on to serve as the executive director of the Michigan Municipal Bond Authority in 1987.

Forney is new to public finance, having been named in January 2007 executive director of IHDA. She previously served as director of public safety for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and served as a liaison between the governor’s office and state House. Bunting, a vice president in Goldman’s New York office, joined the firm in 1992 after serving as head of the housing bond ratings group at Standard & Poor’s. She is a cancer survivor.

The idea for the awards came from WPF founders — Eubanks, consultant Nancy Remar, financial adviser Lois Scott and public finance banker Courtney Shea. The four founded the group a decade ago and it’s since grown from just a handful of local finance professionals to the more than 400 that came from across the country to attend its 2007 conference last fall. The organization also now provides scholarships, mentoring services and makes charitable donations. A Northeast chapter has also been established.

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