Cigar City Gala
Co-chairmen Mary Lib and George Howell partied like it was 1513, any minute expecting Ponce de León to discover the Cigar City Gala at the Tampa Bay History Center. He would have found a 16th century Spanish court, and conquistadors and American Indian enactors greeting 350 black-tie and guayabera-garbed guests Oct. 19, including honoree Judge E.J. Salcines. Columbia Restaurant chefs explored La Florida gastronomically, from tapas to chorizo balls to paella Valenciana and dulce tres leches and marzipan desserts. Historical photos and maps on giant LED screens extolled 500 years of Florida life; recent photos depicted the nearly 5-year-old museum's history. After 9, a lively crowd of $75-a-ticket supporters arrived for a late-night buffet and the Shawn Brown band, doing their part to help the gala net $60,000.
USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy
I certainly didn't expect to spend time with Dee Dee Myers in the ladies' room. Nor did philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani, founder of University of South Florida Women in Leadership & Philanthropy. Chatting in such an unlikely spot with the first female White House press secretary proved yet another instance of our gender's resourcefulness as she prepped to address USF's eighth annual, daylong global leadership symposium Oct. 24 at A La Carte Event Pavilion.
Raise your hand. Own your value. Overcome the confidence gap, advised Myers, author of What Would Happen If Women Ruled the World? Laughter resounded from the 600 guests when she quoted International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde's view of the economic crisis: "If Lehman Brothers had been a bit more Lehman Sisters . . ."
WLP's first Lifetime Achievement Award delighted Louise Lykes Ferguson, valedictorian of the inaugural class of H.B. Plant High, who compared it to "a Nobel Prize in education." Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy received the Community Leadership Award. Deanndra Burrowes asked for donations for faculty research, mentorships and scholarships like she received. WLP chairwoman Kathleen Moore will pool members' annual $1,000 commitments, plus $100,000 raised that day. Save the date: Swimmer Diana Nyad is set to speak on Oct. 17, 2014.
NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner
"We shall not be moved does not mean stand still," said NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner speaker Nate Miles, vice president of strategic initiatives for Lilly USA, who came from Seattle for the Oct. 24 benefit. "Disparities continue, so move forward like never before."
Seconding his emotions among the crowd of 475 were dinner chairman Joe Robinson, Hillsborough chairwoman Carolyn Collins and many elected officials. Emcees Veronica Blakely and WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Rod Carter announced six Unsung Heroes, two Spiritual Leaders and three Living Bridges awards, including Maxine Douglas, the first African-American employee of the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners. A video of the chapter's participation in the 50th anniversary March on Washington was another emotional highlight.
Starting Right, Now luncheon
Angry, abandoned, abused, future unknown — the hardships described by three youth before getting help from Starting Right, Now were unfathomable for most of the 440 guests donating $125,000 at the annual Lend a Hand luncheon Oct. 17 at Higgins Hall. Director Vicki Sokolik has found housing, jobs, mentors and scholarships for more than 100 "kids with serious potential who have been dealt a bad hand." Since 2005, more than 60 have gone to college, and the first teen attends law school.