As usual, questions about her presidential ambitions were on the mind of some attendees.
The former Secretary of State, senator and first lady has received lots of honors and recognition over the years. And as a former and possibly future presidential candidate, she is used to speaking to crowds of supporters. But this was different. More personal.
The supporters Saturday night were friends from her days growing up in Chicago and Park Ridge. And in her speech after receiving the highest honor in the state, she reflected on that.
"I am very appreciative of what this city and state gave first to my parents," she said.
Despite growing talk of a second run for president, Clinton made no reference to her hopes for the future and was unavailable to reporters after the ceremony, which also recognized leaders in business, the arts and religion, as well as sports.
Chicago native and Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski received his award earlier in the day, but was recognized at Saturday night's ceremony at the Field Museum. He credits his Chicago roots with much of his success.
"I think a lot of my Polish culture and Chicago culture is that spirit, that dignity of work, work is not a bad four- letter word," he said.
Outside the ceremony a couple of hecklers sponsored by the Bruce Rauner for Governor campaign lampooned the awards, attempting to link Governor Pat Quinn to his predecessor Rod Blagojevich, who is serving time in a Colorado prison, but inside the governor made little reference to politics focusing on those being honored.
"I think it's important that we honor special men and women who have that ethic of service, who understand as Abraham Lincoln did, that giving to others is the highest calling of a human being," Quinn said.
While Hillary Clinton has kept her political intentions to herself, there is a growing movement from supporters to encourage her to run for president. At a women's breakfast in South Carolina Saturday morning Virginia Senator Tim Kaine offered his endorsement, saying she is the right person for the job.