Monday, January 14, 2013

RCLA Town Hall Platinum Dinner

The Ringling College Library Association's Town Hall Platinum Dinner is always a top spot in the Sarasota social scene and this year was no exception.  Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund (more about that later) was this year's speaker.

Long, long ago, the dinner was called the Patron Dinner and it was always held the night before the first Town Hall speaker.  My how things have changed!  I was the last Patron Dinner chair when we used to hold it at Michael's On East.  As the Town Hall series grew, the event moved to the Ritz Carlton to accommodate the crowd and became the Platinum Dinner.  Now instead of being a preview of the first speaker, it has come to have its own speaker who only Platinum ticket subscribers have the pleasure of hearing.  Last year I co-chaired the event with my friend Wendy Deming and uber-editor, Tina Brown, was our speaker.

I was not really aware of Jacqueline Novogratz before I found out she was speaking at the Platinum Dinner, were you?  She does have quite the interesting story.  She started her career at Chase Manhattan Bank as an international credit analyst.  After three years she left to see how she could make a difference in the world and became a consultant for World Bank.  Her journey is fascinating and you can learn much more about it on the Internet, which is what I did!

The Acumen Fund, which Jacqueline founded, is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty.  It has made a significant difference in the world.  Over $83 million have been invested, impacting over 100 million lives.

What was probably the most fascinating aspect of the evening was hearing her tell the story of her blue sweater - a sweater that she wore as a child and gave away to charity.  Many years later she found a boy in Rwanda wearing her sweater.  She knew it was hers because her name was inside it! The complete story is told in her memoir, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World. 

My one disappointment, no Q&A.  Not sure if they ran out of time or she didn't want to entertain questions, but that always is such an interesting part of the evening and I missed that they didn't do it.  The thing that most impressed me, was that Jacqueline spoke without a note.  I always admire that.

Stephanie Grosskreutz is the 2013 Town Hall chair and Olivia Thomas was the Platinum Dinner chair.  Roxie Jerde, representing the evening's sponsor, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, said the four charitable foundations, based in Sarasota County, with representatives there that evening, had combined assets of over $700 million

Kudos to The Ritz for getting their valet parking situation a bit under control.  When I turned to go into the drive, it was backed up all the way to the road.  I groaned and thought I would be sitting there forever, but guess what?  It only took eight minutes to get from the road to the valet - some kind of record!

The dinner was also quite delish!  I really enjoyed the salad and the sea bass was good, too.  They have a new chef, Zouhair Bellout, who James Harries was kind enough to introduce to me, and it shows.

Each table had drawings of the new RCAD library, soon to be constructed.  Nice opportunity to see where the money is going!

Stephanie Grosskreutz and Jacqueline Novogratz

Kristine Nickel and Merry Williams

Olivia Thomas and Lisa Walsh

Kathleen List with Jay and Holly Logan

Matt Callahan, Debra Jacobs, and Bill Buttaggi

Mike and Roxie Jerde

Pauline Joerger and Teri Hansen

George and Sarah Pappas

Kim Wheeler and Renee Hamad

Carolyn Johnson, Barbara Siemer, and Alice Rau

Stacey Corley and Lois Stulberg

Marsha Panuce and Betty Schoenbaum

Don Featherman, Karen Eastmoore, with Dee and Charlie Stottlemyer

Kathy Standard and Ginny McCloskey

Phyllis Anderson - what would RCLA do without her?

Scott Anderson and Veronica Brady

Sumner and Irene Bagby

Jenni and Paul Hudson with Elizabeth Wery

Steve Wilberding and Alice Rau

Graci McGillicuddy and Chris Lindsay

Jon Thaxton and Margarete van Antwerpen

Don and Susan Featherman

Al and Cerita Purmort

Dr. Harold Johnson and Dr. Krista Toomre

Fran Lambert and Jocelyn Stevens

Pat Thompson and Julie Delaney

Barbara Brizdle and Mickey Fine

Dot Scheurenbrand and Shirley Lascelle

Ann and Larry Garberding

Dr. Sarah and Dan Hoffe

Mary Lee Ritchey and Edie Winston

Susan Pore and Susan Radcliffe

Kathe Nasby, Rohin Singh, and James Harries - My three favorites at the Ritz!

The orchid centerpiece, with the drawing of the new library in front of it.

The program

The salad

The dessert

The party favor

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