The March of Dimes 28th annual Spotlight on Success will begin with a patron party at 6:30 p.m., followed by a gala at 8 p.m., June 13, at Generations Hall, 310 Andrew Higgins Drive.

The event will honor young professionals from the New Orleans area and will raise awareness of education, vaccines and research aimed to improve the health of babies everywhere.

Proceeds from the open-to-the-public event benefit the March of Dimes campaign to reduce the rate of premature births, birth defects and other serious threats to the health of babies. In New Orleans, one in seven births are premature.

Tickets to the patron party are $125 and include appetizers donated by Ruth’s Chris, a premium open bar, patrons-only auction items and entrance to the gala.

Tickets to the gala only are $75 in advance and $85 at the door. The gala will feature cuisine from Cafe Du Monde, Zea’s, Jerk’s Island Grill, Acme Oyster House, Bravo!, The Chicory, Creole Cuisine Concepts, Liberty’s Kitchen, Pigeon Caterers, Vega Tapas, Juan’s Flying Burrito, Pie Pizza & Pastas, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, and Bon Ton Café, an open bar and music by the Bucktown All-Stars.

A silent auction will feature vacations, jewelry, artwork, dining certificates, sporting event tickets and more. Emcee for the evening will be Camille Whitworth of WDSU-TV Channel 6.

Honorees for 2014 are Candace Bienvenu, Cassie Bienvenu, Rebekah Broussard, Abby Cantrell, Gassan Chaiban, Dr. Lin Dang, Matthew Erskin, Catherine Gauthier, Sarah Gretchen, Brian Harris, Robin Johnson, Dr. Heather Kahn, Libby Kemp, Eve Lindstedt, Megan McKown, Eric Melancon, Jennifer Mire, Jourdana Passaro, Ernesto Posadas, Cassie Preston, Aaron Ramsey, Wendy Riley, Nicole Rios, Marie Rougelot, Hannah Salter, Amanda Vonderhaar, Melissa Young and Ben Zamora.

Tickets may be purchased at www.marchofdimesnola .com or by calling (504) 264-9288.

Alliance Francaise celebrates 30th anniversary

As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, the Alliance Française of New Orleans will present a weekend focused on Jules Verne, a founding member of the original Alliance Française in Paris. The celebration opens with a free event Friday at the Alliance, and continues with a conference on Saturday at the Old U.S. Mint.

“Verne’s Extraordinary Journey’s” will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 30, at the Alliance Française, 1519 Jackson Ave. It is free to the public and will feature five talks by Verne scholars.

Discussions will include: “From Novelist to Salesman, or How Jules Verne Became a Popular Archetype” by Jean-Michel Margot; “Melancholic Mirages: Jules Verne’s Vision of a Saharan Sea” by Dr. Peter Schulman; “Off on a Comic …” by William B. Jones Jr.; “Translating a Book of Books: Intertextual Adventures with Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant” by Alex Kirstukas; “The Self-Propelled Island: A New Way to See the World” by Prof. Marie-Thérèse Noiset.

A conference will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the Old U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade Ave. Discussions will include modern science fiction and how machines have opened the gates to a new form of literature. Admission is $5.

Verne’s fiction and legacy will be discussed by Marie-Hélène Huet, professor emeritus at Princeton University, and music includes a Steampunk concert by The Confabulation of Gentry, a Dixieland/Ragtime band with a difference. Singers will mix with trumpet, trombone, tuba, xylophone, piano and banjo producing danceable sounds that evoke old world New Orleans. For information, visit

The event is presented in partnership with the North American Jules Verne Society ( and the Louisiana State Museum.

The Alliance Française of New Orleans is a nonprofit organization offering French lessons and a variety of cultural and social events, including lectures, film screenings, cooking classes, an annual photo contest and exhibit and discussion groups. The AFNO also offers an in-house and online library with a selection of French films, books, magazines and podcasts. For information, call (504) 568-0770.

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at