Hecky Powell graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Services Administration. He put his degree to work with a successful career in public service, working as the Director of an Evanston nonprofit adult education agency and then as Director of a community action agency. After that, Hecky switched things up. Midway through his career he had the idea to open up a restaurant, Hecky’s Barbecue, which at the time he thought would be primarily operated by his parents. Thirty years later, Hecky has become a successful restaurant owner who enjoys the challenges and rewards of running a thriving small business.
In addition to his professional pursuits, Hecky also runs a foundation he set up in the name of his father, the Forrest E. Powell Foundation. Hecky’s father was an important role model in his life, and with his foundation Hecky promotes the values of family, business, and community. The foundation grants scholarships in support of vocational education and musical careers. It also gives an annual Work Ethic Award to one Evanston individual whose life exemplifies the guiding principles of the foundation.
Hecky is a recipient of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award, the Northeastern Illinois University Community Service Award, and the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association Award.
When initially diagnosed with liver disease at a different hospital, his doctors told Hecky that he had less than a year to live. “I am fortunate that my primary physician recommended that I see Dr. Laura Kulik at Northwestern Memorial Hospital,” Hecky says. “She promoted me as a viable candidate for liver transplant to the transplant team.” Hecky’s transplant gave him back his life, and through his efforts at NMTAC, he hopes to help other transplant patients get their lives back as well.