Line ’em up! Two recent events hailed individuals who exemplify fine qualities, both personal and professional. The Young Leadership Council presented its 28th annual Role Model Awards Gala at the Hyatt Regency Empire Ballroom with an attendance cast of approximately 600. Hundreds will also be expected at the Sept. 26 Belles & Beaus Ball, the 14th, in the Mardi Gras World Ballroom. To launch that levity, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, the ball brigade staged a patron party for “Rock Your World” at The Shops at Canal Place, the event’s host. Jack Sutton Jewelers was the top-category donor, the Diamond Donor. Both events, the council’s and the society’s, focused on the many facets of fun and fundraising.
Prior to settling in socially in the Empire Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Young Leadership Council honorees and VIPs assembled in 8 Block Kitchen & Bar for initial rounds of schmoozing and sipping. Congratulations, too, because the event offered an opportunity to network with the laureates before their on-stage moments. The attire was summer-formal, with dozens of women in long gowns.
Then the ballroom beckoned, as did the silent auction that featured dinners at more than 35 of the Crescent City’s finest restaurants, including Commander’s Palace, Emeril’s restaurants, and Dickie Brennan’s Palace Café (where, at lunch on Wednesday, Lauren Brennan Brower explained the daily summer deal: a two-course meal, the Temperature Lunch, priced on the temperature of the preceding day. Ninety degrees translated to $9.) As for family news, Lauren and husband George Brower’s son, George “Geordie” Brower III, swapped wedding vows very recently in Atlanta with Sally Zintak.
A stunning setting, the Empire Ballroom was uplighted in rich amethyst and sapphire with a brace of giant video screens flanking the stage. The black-clothed tables were centered with arrangements by Mardi Gras Productions of white hydrangeas and deep purple roses in mercury glass vases. Guests also slipped to a corner of the room to create giddy, goofy and glad memories in Flipbooks, the on-site digital imagining by Funtastic Fotos. A yellow watermelon salad with crème fraiche and horseradish launched the three-course meal.
Principals, and there were myriad, started with master of ceremonies Mark Romig, Archbishop Gregory Aymond for the invocation, Role Model Gala Chairwoman McKensie Kirchner, Young Leadership Council President Matthew A. Treuting, past President Richard C. Pavlick, and YLC Executive Director Curry W. Smith, who said he now feels like a true New Orleanian. He’d purchased a home two days before the gala. Words of praise from him tapped the Role Models, the YLC staff, the gala committee and the selection committee, which included three previous Role Models: Ellen M. Lee, Connie Uddo and Michael Hecht.
The much-anticipated moment arrived when the 2014 Role Models were recognized. Annually, the YLC chooses 25 individuals who have distinguished themselves in the community and serve as extraordinary examples to young professionals of the region.
Assembled in toto on the stage, each RM was then recognized individually with a short biographical sketch. The names to know were Iftikhar Ahmad, executive director of the New Orleans Aviation Board; Justin Augustine, CEO of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority; Therese Badon, vice president of development of the United Negro College Fund Inc.; Arnold Baker, CEO of Baker Ready Mix & Building Materials; Bryan Batt, actor, designer, author; David Blossman, president of the Abita Brewing Company; Matt Candler, of the charter school movement and founder of 4.0 Schools; Michelle D. Craig, partner at Adams and Reese LLP; Jeffrey Goldring, a director of the Sazerac Company; Stephanie Haynes, chairwoman of the Greater New Orleans Drug Demand Reduction Coalition; and Sister Marjorie Hebert, MSC, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. She also chairs the board of Lindy’s Place, named after Congresswoman/Ambassador Lindy Boggs, which raised funds on a recent Saturday afternoon at the Garden District home of Renee and Stewart Peck.
And, as further YLC honorees, James M. LeBlanc, president/CEO of Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans; Charles E. Leche, a partner at Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles law firm; Lan Chi Luu, Ph.D., principal investigator for the Tulane University/LSUHSC Clinical and Translational Research, Education and Commercialization Project; Ed Marshall, senior vice president and marketing director for First NBC Bank; R.M. “Iray” Nabatoff, founder and volunteer executive director of the Community Center of St. Bernard; and Lavonzell Nicholson, founder of PlayNOLA, a sports and social club.
More Models included Darryl Reginelli, who began Reginell’s Pizzeria in 1996; Melissa Sawyer, Youth Empowerment Project founder and executive director; Dana Shepard, executive committee, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans; Michael O. Smith, general manager of Hotel Operations at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans (the host hotel), Boston and Washington, D.C.; Monica R. Sylvain, Ph.D., founding director of the Posse Foundation in New Orleans (with its focus on education and scholarships); Keith Twitchell, president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans; Thomas P. Westervelt, executive vice president and senior private banker at IberiaBank; and Ana Zorilla, CEO of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Applause for them was effusive.
Among those noted were Bill Goldring — the Goldring Family Foundation was the top donor; fairly recent newlyweds Calais and Dr. Patrick Waring, another generous donor; and Paulette Stewart and Frank (who was beaming about his golf game that day). Also, Helen and Tim Young, Joe and Colette Stelly Friend, Jay and Andree Batt, Betsie Gambel, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, Councilwoman Susan Guidry with husband Hervin, Christine and Otto Briede, Ashton Ryan Jr., Daryl Byrd, John Landrum, Ruthie Frierson, Debra Morton, Connie and Mark Uddo, Dian and Tom Winingder, Carol and Harold Asher, Robert Steeg, Jane Goldring, Cammie and Charles Mayer, Dian and Alan Franco, and, from the YLC staff, the above Curry Smith, Caitlin Gottstine, Larissa Muetzel, and Juliana Anderson Wilkins.
Scores more made the scene then bounded to the dance floor, where Louisiana Spice revved up the sounds. But that’s not all! The official Role Model Gala After Party beckoned for drinks, appetizers and dancing at Little Gem Saloon Ramp Room, where siblings Nicolas (general manager) and Maria Bazan extend welcoming hands.
American Cancer Society’s Partying Patrons
Hosted by Jennifer Hale, the pre-bash gathering unfolded on the third floor of Canal Place with red, white and blue balloons, the colors of the American Cancer Society, adding initial — and decorative — buoyancy. General hobnobbing ensued before the program, which included a message from the hosts; thanks galore to the sponsors, committee and store sponsors; and the announcement of the 2014 Belle and Beau honorees. Almost all attended.
Take a bow, Liz Cabrera, Dr. Michele Cooper, Janet DellaC roce, Patricia Denechaud, Jill D. Fitzpatrick, Holley Haag, Katie DeVries Kelly, Coral Maher, Evie Poitevent and Nerissa Wood. And, Boysie Bollinger, Will Bryant, Michael Fontham, Erik Frank, Louis Grossman, Tom Hancock, Robert LeBlanc, Ryan Messina, Dr. William Robinson and Gary Solomon Jr.
They and the ACS supporters, such as Silver Donor Richard “Dick” Colton Jr., mingled about, enjoying the delicious dishes served by Langenstein’s and the proffered wines with the Little Black Dress label as a favorite. They also talked up the “Rock Your World” revelry slated for Sept. 26.
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