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Black Tie International:
Big Brothers Big Sisters LA 60th Anniversary Celebration
Photos by: Vince Bucci
BBBSLA President & CEO Tiffany Siart, Jackie Collin’s daughters Tiffany Sachs and Rory Green and presenter Kathy Griffin.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci

BBBSLA President & CEO Tiffany Siart, Jackie Collin’s daughters Tiffany Sachs
and Rory Green and
presenter Kathy Griffin

 

BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF GREATER LOS ANGELES

 HONORS SUZANNE DE PASSE,

WILLIAM R. DAVIS WITH POSTHUMOUS AWARD TO JACKIE COLLINS

AT

2015 BIG BASH 60TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

Evening Raised nearly $600,000 to Benefit

BBBSLA Mentoring Programs
 

 George Schlatter presented the Sherry Lansing Award to Suzanne de Passe.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci

 George Schlatter presented the Sherry Lansing Award to Suzanne de Passe

 Sherry Lansing (left) and Sarah Purcell (right) presented the Trailblazer Award to William Davis (center).  Photo by:  Vince Bucci

 Sherry Lansing (left) and Sarah Purcell (right) presented the Trailblazer Award to
 William Davis (center)

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci

Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber

Emcee Wilson Cruz.  Photo by:  Vince Bucci

Emcee Wilson Cruz

 

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 26, 2015) –Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles (BBBSLA) honored outstanding members of the Los Angeles community at its annual Big Bash gala, October 23, 2015, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills. The evening celebrated the organization’s 60th anniversary.  Awards recognize individuals who are inspiring and positive role models to our youth.  Suzanne de Passe,  Co-Chair of de Passe Jones Entertainment,  was  honored with the 2015 Sherry Lansing Award and William R. Davis received the 2015 Trailblazer Award.  The 2015 Pioneer Award was presented posthumously to author Jackie Collins. Previous awardees William H. Ahmanson, Megan Colligan, Ann Daly, Roy P. Disney, Mark Goldston, Nancy Josephson, Sue Kroll, Sherry Lansing, John Lasseter, Jennifer Salke, Anne Sweeney and Ronald Tutor served as Honorary Gala Chairs.

Big Sister Sabrina, a senior at Gabrelino High School in San Gabriel  welcomed the more than 450 guests, describing her role as part of the BBBS High School Mentoring Program which offers high school students an opportunity to meet with local elementary students, becoming Big Brothers or Big Sisters to the younger children.

Actor and host Wilson Cruz took a few moments to celebrate the history of BBBSLA, touching on its current legacy.  “Today, Big Brothers Big Sister of Los Angeles is one of the largest mentoring organizations in Los Angeles County,” said Cruz, “set to impact over 1600 children and youth this year alone.”

BBBSLA President Tiffany Siart focused on the remarkable success rate that the organization imparts on young people facing adversity in their homes, schools and communities.  “Our average high school graduation rate is 95%,” said Siart, “compared to many of the schools our ‘Littles’ graduate from with rates as low as 50%.  More exciting, this fall 94% of our graduates entered a higher education program.” 

Emmy Award-winning producer George Schlatter presented the 2015 Sherry Lansing Award to Suzanne de Passe, Co-Chair of de Passe Jones Entertainment.  Beginning her career at the iconic Motown as creative assistant to company founder Berry Gordy, de Passe subsequently rose to President of Motown Productions, the company’s television and film division.  During her years at Motown, she was responsible for discovering future superstars The Jackson Five, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Rick James, songwriter/producer Michael Masser and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  As a producer and writer, she garnered an Emmy and Peabody in 1983 for Motown 25:  Yesterday, Today, Forever.  Her award-winning productions include Lonesome Dove, The Jacksons: An American Dream, Small Sacrifices and Buffalo Girls.  In total, she has received two Emmys, six NAACP Image Awards, three Peabody Awards and a Golden Globe.  De Passe was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing Lady Sings the Blues and is an inductee into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.  Serving on a number of Boards, including the Television Academy Foundation, the American Film Institute and the Los Angeles Opera,  among others, de Passe has shared her considerable knowledge and experience with students in her role as the Time Warner Endowed Chair at the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University and at Emerson College in Boston.  She currently mentors and provides support to newcomers to the industry and continues to mentor many of those new to the entertainment business.

Sherry Landsing and Sarah Purcell , co-founders of the Future Fund Scholarship and BBBS Trustees, presented the 2015 Trailblazer Award to William R. Davis.  Davis left a stellar career in the U.S. Navy where he spent six years as a nuclear submarine officer to tackle the world of big business, first with McKinsey & Company, a major management consulting firm where he consulted for Fortune 500 companies, primarily in the areas of strategy and organization.  Five years after joining McKinsey, he partnered with Rick Greenthal to form Sentex Systems, Inc., a fully vertically integrated manufacturer of access control equipment and became a market leader in the industry.  After fifteen years of continuous profitable growth, the two sold Sentex to the Chamberlain Group in 1997.  Davis first became involved with BBBSLA in 1994 as a donor to the Future Fund.  He went on to join the Board of Directors in 2008 and became Chair of the Finance Committee a well as becoming involved with the Strategic Planning Committee.  He continues to remain a committed and active financial supporter of the Agency and the Big Brothers Big Sisters Scholarship Fund.

A highlight of Davis’ acceptance speech was his announcement of the formation of a new scholarship fund to replace the current Future Fund and build upon its success.  “The new scholarship fund will be gender-blind,” said David, “providing scholarships to Little Brothers as well as Little Sisters and will be called the Big Brothers Big Sisters Scholarship Fund.  Now all our ‘littles’ will have a chance to receive financial aid to pursue higher education.”

Comedienne Kathy Griffin presented the 2015 Pioneer Award posthumously to iconic author Jackie Collins.  “It is my pleasure to honor my personal big sister and good pal, the great Jackie Collins,” said Griffin.  “She so strongly believed in mentoring young people.  After selling half a billion books around the world, she was the ideal ambassador to message to younger people that something as simple as picking up a pen and putting it to paper can become a career, regardless of your background.”  Daughters Tiffany Sachs and Rory Green accepted on behalf of their late mother. 

With over half a billion copies of her books sold in more than forty countries and with thirty-one New York Times bestsellers to her credit, Collins remains one of the world’s top-selling novelists.  Chronicling the scandalous lives of the rich, famous and infamous, she quickly established herself as an author who dared to step where no other female writer had gone before.  Beginning with her first novel, The World is Full of Married Men, she followed it year after year with one successful title after another including Chances, the first installment of a sprawling saga introducing the strong, sexy and powerful Lucky Santangelo and the seminal ‘80s blockbuster, Hollywood Wives.  For her services to literature and charity, she was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the Queen of England in 2013.  Jackie was a long-time supporter of Aids Project LA, HIV & AIDS research and equality for the LGBT community.  Jackie Collins died of breast cancer on September 19, 2015, six years after being given a stage four diagnosis, which she chose to keep private until the final weeks of her life.  A believer in the power of positive thinking, she completed five books during those last six years and continued to travel the world on yearly book tours.  A creative force, a trailblazer for women and an inspiration for all who knew her, Jackie Collins said in her last interview before her death, “I want people to see me as an example of strength…doing things my way.”

Guests were especially moved with the personal stories of 3 generations of mentoring…long-time Big Brother,  Marine Major Stephen Locovara, his Little Brother Sabin Lomac (BBBSLA Board Member and Co-Owner, Cousins Maine Lobster) who went on to become a Big Brother to his Little Brother, Lawrence.  All poignantly related  life-changing histories with their Big Brothers and the organization.

Big Brother Mitch Cardwell, VP of Digital Content and Design for the CBS Marketing Group was joined by his Little Brother Erick, to speak about the success of The Workplace Mentoring Program, providing one-on-one mentoring onsite at some of the city’s most influential corporations including Union Bank, PwC, NFL Network, Sony Pictures Entertainment and CBS.

In January, 2016, during Naitonal Mentoring Month, BBBSLA trustee and Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff announced the launch of the LAPD Protect & Serve Mentor Recruitment Initiative, created to increase positive engagement between youth of color and law enforcement agenciesin communities across Los Angeles County.

 

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles

In Los Angeles County, one in five children is living below the federal poverty line and one in three children is living in a single-parent household. These children are faced with overwhelming challenges that often derail their futures. BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF GREATER LOS ANGELES changes children’s lives (our Littles) for the better, forever, through professionally supported one-on-one mentoring relationships. Mentorship by caring adults (our Bigs) has proven effective in significantly increasing academic performance and self-esteem while decreasing risky behaviors. Founded by Walt Disney and Meredith Willson in 1955, they are a leading non-profit in the Los Angeles community. To learn more, visit www.BBBSLA.org, follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bbbsla, Facebook at www.facebook.com/bbbsla and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/bbbsla.

 

 

Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/Blacktiemagazine.com

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