- Endowment Ado
When guests arrived at the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Canal Place, they were florally welcomed by lovely arrangements of spring posies. Ambiance was set for the brunch, the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana’s annual event. Board member Cathy K. Bart (who also gave the welcome) and JEF President-Elect Andrea S. “Andi” Lestelle co-chaired the event, which was underwritten in part by the Whitney Bank, Francis L. Fraenkel, the Jean and Saul A. Mintz Family Supporting Foundation and Postlethwaite & Netterville. Rabbi Gabe Greenberg was slated for the invocation.
All enjoyed a fine brunch menu of spinach egg strata, smoked salmon, cheese blintzes and fresh fruit. Conversation was lively, a good portion of it centering on the work of JEF. It administers more than “550 funds and seven supporting foundations for individual donors and community organizations.”
Awards are highlights of the Annual Event and captured everyone’s attention. The Tzedakah Award, JEF’s highest honor, was presented to Betty Meyers by past honoree Dr. Edward “Eddie” Soll; the Young Family Award for Professional Excellence was presented to James M. Spiro by JEF Executive Director Saundra “Sandy” Levy; and the Helen A. Mervis Jewish Community Professional Award found a radiant recipient in Wendy Goldberg. Andi Lestelle made that presentation.
Billed in the program as a “conversation,” JEF executive committee member Alan Franco interviewed former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers about the forthcoming presidential election, his work as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the Middle East. Attendees listened with rapt attention.
Among the notables were Atlanta resident Jonas Meyers, son of honoree Betty; JEF Vice President Larry Lehmann with Dashka; Terry Lestelle and Karen Soll with their above-mentioned respective spouses, Andi and Eddie; board member Bob Brickman with Caroline; and executive committee members Allan Bissinger, John Haspel and Mimi Schlesinger with Nancy, Amy and Claude.
Also, Jeff Charrier and Greg Hodlewsky of the Whitney Bank, the top event sponsor; past JEF President Joyce Pulitzer (with Sidney), who will be recognized in November by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) as Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year; more past prezzes in Carol Wise (with daughter Ginny Wise) and Joe Pasternack (with wife Sarah); and 2015 Young Award honoree Mark Stein with Amy.
n ACCESS Celebrates 45 Years
Concurrent with the JEF gathering was that of ACCESS Pregnancy and Referral Center, which held its annual Jazz Brunch and Auction at the Audubon Tea Room. Founded in 1971, ACCESS helps nearly 1,000 women each year and distributes more than 7,000 diapers monthly to needy families.
Catholic Charities President & CEO Sister Marjorie Hebert and ACCESS Board President Lisa Baynham teamed to present the 2016 Outstanding Pro-Life Parish of the Year award to Divine Mercy Parish/St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School. Accepting were the Rev. David Dufour and Natasia Kissinger, who was joined by husband Ricky; their daughters, Alexis and Kylie; and Natasia’s mother, Melanie Turner. On hand, too, were representatives Patty Bonura, Nancy Dupuy, Joan Cuccia, and Margaret and Tom Murphy.
Lisa Baynham, on behalf of the ACCESS board and staff, also presented a bouquet of flowers to past even chairwoman and board member Jean Rice in recognition of her dedication and work. More Baynham representation came from Lisa’s daughter, Chrissy Gregg Baynham, who designed the brunch invitation.
A served, formal meal crowned the midday activity and guests enjoyed the tasty spinach salad, chicken piccata, and praline cheesecake. Centering the tables were pretty flowers in vases with matching tulle ribbon created by Shannon Simmons Wild and Karen McGoey, who were joined by husbands Rodney and King.
Further headliners were Jazz Brunch Chairwoman Pat Quinlan with daughter Dr. Michelle Pisciotta, auction Co-Chairwomen Sheila Spring and Jean Mitchell (who together secured 145 items to entice the eager crowd), board Vice President Gayle Gaubert with Dr. Jimmy, Michelle and Doug Black, Gail and Roy Daigle, Liz and Deacon Chris Bertucci with daughter Maria Villafranco, Linda and Rod Abele, Judy and Bob Martin, John and Pam Richard, Janet Patterson, Judy and Dr. Bob Quinilty, Tangie Stephens, Kathleen Harrison, Leslie Miller, and Anne and Jack Dardis.
More circulating around the Tea Room came from Lois Cambre and daughter Hope, Elisabeth Dillman, Diane Gannuch, Mary Ellis Hasseltine and George, Linda and Harold Heno, Ashley Keller, Janet and Jerry Pesce, Sharon and Mark Rodi, Madge and Ron Schexnaydre, Lynn Schonberg with husband Stephen and mother Gloria Woods and Casey Cadella, director of Archbishop Rummel High School Student Ambassadors, who worked the five auction tables. Thank you, Tyler Songy, Wyatt Vanlangendonck, Kyle Costanza, Quin Cadella, Craig Lindsey and Luke Hightower.
Of course, for a Jazz Brunch, there has to be jazz. Led by director Christian Bautista, members of the Rummel Jazz Band performed a slew of sprightly numbers. More thanks went to musicians Christopher Broome, Christian Hyde, Michael McLaughlin, Spencer Mullen, Jacob St. Pierre and Noah Vicknair.
n TUWA Tributes
On the eve of the above brunches, the Tulane University Women’s Association held its annual Spring Luncheon at The Irish House on St. Charles Avenue. Always a draw, the event showcases a worthy member as the recipient of the Longenecker Award. It was established by the late Tulane President Herbert Longenecker to honor his wife, Jane Segar Longenecker, and to honor women for their contributions to the university. Honorees, who are selected by the entire TUWA membership, have included over the years Doris Gordon, Ruth Jenkins, Barbara Knill, Mary Ellen Nice, Elsie Martinez, Patty Andrews, Margie Scheuermann, Margaret Kelly, Paulette Freudenberger, Janet Hansche, Maria Daly, Ruth Olivera, Jewelynn Nice and Doris Baron. Most were in attendance.
This year’s recipient of the Mignon Faget-designed unique gold pin was the much-applauded Pam Rogers. The above Doris Baron presented it to Pam. Another recognition was the Honorary Lifetime Membership, which TUWA Treasurer Tupper Allen presented to Loretta Clark.
Before enjoying the lunch of mixed green beet arugula salad, a main course choice, and caramel toffee pudding, TUWA President Matesa Gago-Luu welcomed everyone and gave the invocation. Cheerful yellow tablecloths and white daisies added vernal touches.
Among the TUWA troops were luncheon Chairwomen Molly Keenan and Staci Sundmaker, incoming President Jennifer Clarke, Secretary Susan Kelley, Patty Andrews, Marjorie Nolan-Wheatley and scores more. Tapped to entertain were Luke Halpern, Meghan Lydon and David Reis.
n Around and About
On a recent Tuesday at the Louise S. McGehee School, The Baker Ellis Spirit Award was presented to alumna and Life Trustee Adelaide Wisdom Benjamin (class of 1950) and to McGehee parents, grandparents and trustees Fran and George Villere. The school’s highest honor to give, the award was created in 2005. It is named for its first recipients, Gary Gillis Baker (class of 1952) and T.C.W. Ellis III.
Not far from the Garden District school is Lee Circle and the almost-built Greater New Orleans Foundation Center for Philanthropy. Supporters of the Imagine Greater Campaign have been touring the building recently. Among those led on a tour by Erin McQuade-Wright of the foundation were Bobby McIntyre and his son, William.