By The Editors By The Editors | October 14, 2021 | Lifestyle Feature
The next generation of power philanthropists is here not just to champion a cause—but revolutionize the world along the way.
Miami’s Kara Zeder Rosen is the board president of Kristi House, an organization that helps victims of child sexual abuse.
Part of Miami’s top-selling real estate team, Coral Gables resident Kara Zeder Rosen’s work as board president of Kristi House, a nonprofit dedicated to healing and eradicating child sexual abuse, follows the legacy established by her mother, Judy Zeder. Among her accomplishments within the organization is coalescing with community partners, bringing on highly qualified CEO leadership and delivering break-even budgets while expanding services. For her efforts, The Miami Foundation recognized her with its 2019 Emerging Philanthropist Award for her “significant time and talent,” as well as for inspiring others to give back.
What sparked your passion for giving back? Growing up, my mom was always extremely philanthropic—and still is. She was involved with multiple charities to do what she could in order to try to make a difference in the city she called home. The concept of giving back was instilled in all of us when we were young, and not just in terms of writing a check, but really being active and involved.
Why do you dedicate your time and efforts to Kristi House in particular? When I graduated from college and attended a [Kristi House luncheon] where I heard a survivor speak, my heart broke. I truly had no idea as to the extent of child sexual abuse in our community and what these children endure. As I learned more about the work, I felt compelled to get involved. Child sexual abuse is a cancer, but Kristi House offers the cure.
What are the main challenges for Kristi House moving forward? Funding will always be a challenge. We are committed to offering services at 100% no cost to the families we serve [and to] never turning away a child in need.
What do you hope for the organization once you leave your post as board president? I hope to leave it in better hands and on a continued path of growth, education, service and best practices for our community.
How do you instill the importance of giving back in others? By telling them to find their passion. Once you find out what that is, it’s really easy to point them in the right direction and connect them with an organization to which they can be of service.
Of this year’s Turkey Trot (Nov. 25), McClure says, “The money raised from the Trot goes directly to feed Th anksgiving meals to those in need in our community.” She is shown here with husband Jared and children Lulu, Selah, Elle and Noah. The newest member of the family, Filomena, was born in March.
Cara Coniglio McClure was raised in a philanthropic family. As she witnessed her father, restaurateur Frank Coniglio, and mother, former Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, give back to the community throughout her adolescence, the same charitable values were imprinted on McClure—values she hopes to pass on to her own daughters. Today, McClure and her husband, Jared, are active members of Town of Palm Beach United Way.
What sparked your passion for philanthropy? It was instilled in me by my parents from a young age. My parents were dedicated to the Hope Rural School in Belle Glade, Fla., and always hosted the children at our family restaurant, E.R. Bradley’s Saloon, for Christmas and Easter. Some of my earliest memories are helping set the tables, fill the plastic Easter eggs with treats and prepare for the kids activities. Watching the children arrive and the delight in the experience imprinted the importance of giving back.
Town of Palm Beach United Way is an organization close to your heart. What drew you to its cause? My mother. She has been volunteering with them for the last 40 years. I was brought up with a deep respect and devotion to the cause. I started about 20 years ago as a member of the allocation committee and was amazed by the efficiency, organization and dedication the group had for the less fortunate in our county. After that, I was hooked. When CEO Beth Walton asked if my husband, Jared, and I would spearhead a group for younger people, I was delighted to help start the Islanders and create an event for that generation. I wasn’t much of a ‘gala girl,’ so we tried to think outside of the Palm Beach society box and came up with the Turkey Trot concept.
You have five young children. How do you promote the idea of giving back from an early age? We talk about it often and try to do lemonade stands or homemade bracelet popups at our house whenever something happens in the world that is in need of prayers and funds. Those little activities are great ways for our daughters to understand that it is our job to help when someone is suffering and that every little bit is meaningful.
Join Meredith and Matt for the 2021 Jingle Bell Run Dec. 11 and JDRF’s One Walk Nov. 15.
Matt and Meredith Boyd both struggle with diseases that don’t always present on the outside. Meredith, diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age 15, and Matt, a Type 1 diabetic, share a mutual struggle but have chosen to use their struggle for good. Together they work with the Arthritis Foundation and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as spokespeople and volunteers, impacting lives in the Atlanta community and beyond.
How did you get involved with your respective organizations?
Meredith: I started volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation in college in 1996 and have been a loyal volunteer ever since. I finally found a community that truly understands the struggles I face. It’s my mission to encourage others who are newly diagnosed and to conquer this crippling disease by partnering with my friends at the Arthritis Foundation.
Matt: After 23 years as the deputy of police for Cobb County, Ga., I began sharing my story as a Type 1 diabetic to kids who were struggling just as I had. I started mentoring and I’ve been involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since.
What sparked your passion for giving back?
Matt: Giving can not only provide you with a sense of purpose, but it can also help you discover causes you are passionate about. Being a mentor to children with Type 1 diabetes has been life changing. Showing compassion is its own unique act of generosity and, in turn, helps you develop more meaningful connections with others.
Meredith: The idea of giving is placing someone else’s needs before one’s own. There is a common thread, the act of giving of one’s self, that is so valuable. That, indeed, is priceless.
How are things today?
Meredith: Today, I do have chronic pain in my back, hips, shoulders and elbows, but despite the painful days, I lead a demanding career as an award-winning makeup artist for television and work with iconic media personalities and celebrities nationwide. I’m in pain every day. Arthritis doesn’t take a day off—and neither do I.
Matt: I have built a photography business alongside my wife. We work every day to make people feel good about themselves—photography, makeup and charity work being our vehicles to do so. You are your superpower and there is only one you. We help clients step into their true selves by giving them confidence to face the challenges of life by discovering their inner spirit that is undeniably beautiful.
Philanthropic powerhouse Wendy Yu has made a massive impact despite her young age. The patron regular on the New York scene recently launched YUMEE, a Chinese luxury art makeup brand that supports cause-based organizations by raising awareness and donating a percentage of sales. Hot on the heels of her first beauty collaboration with Jason Wu, which supported the China Institute, we checked in with the maven.
What inspires you to be so philanthropically active? As a general philosophy in life, I do believe that the more we give the more we get back. I am very aware that I was born into privilege, but know that with this comes responsibility as well as immense and exciting opportunity to make a difference. I feel incredibly grateful and motivated to have access and resources that I can leverage for the benefit of others.
My parents have very much passed on their wisdom and values to me. We share a win-win philosophy and approach to life. In the case of business and philanthropy, this equates to adopting a wider role in the industry and society, where we should contribute toward the mutual success and gain of others.
What current philanthropic projects are you working on? My philanthropic focus is on empowering through creativity and enabling the shift from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China.’ I believe in creativity’s power to inspire, unite and accelerate positive change. I continue to support iconic institutions such as The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, however, I’m also deeply passionate about investing in and supporting the creative future of China. I serve as a UCCA [Center for Contemporary Art] committee member, and last year I founded The Yu Prize, a fashion award program dedicated to scouting and supporting the next generation of Chinese fashion talents and young designer brands.
What fresh perspectives and new energy do you think your generation brings to philanthropy? We know we have the power as an individual to make an impact and we aspire to do so. Our voices can be heard and our actions can be seen like never before thanks to social media platforms, and I think we feel the power and responsibility to do our part.
Scottsdale resident Liz Agboola has dedicated her life to the underserved.
Scottsdale resident Liz Agboola (@liz_agboola) has dedicated her life to serving those less fortunate. She’s CEO of three local organizations—Moses Behavioral Care, Senior Placement Services and FreshStart—and in her spare time is a devoted board member for several organizations, including Valleywise Health Foundation, where she’s on the board of directors. If that’s not enough, she founded Valleywise Health Foundation’s program Emerging Leaders, which pairs diverse young professionals with executives for meaningful mentorships.
What prompted you to get involved with charity work ? My family and I moved to the U.S. from Nigeria in the mid-’80s. Life was challenging, but the community made our transition so much easier. My parents always instilled in me and my siblings the belief that no matter what the future held, to always find a way to give back to the community that gave us so much.
What are some notable things have you accomplished over the years? Early in my career, I learned the importance of mentors and the critical role they play in the development of rising leaders. That’s why in February 2021, I proposed Emerging Leaders, an executive mentorship program through Valleywise Health Foundation that I co-chair with my mentor, Patti Gentry. With the help of community mentors, future leaders, philanthropists and change-makers will be formed through this program. As well, during the pandemic, my family and I ran two very successful community projects—a food and supply drive that delivered over 400 bags of food and hygiene supplies to underserved veterans, and a free transportation and registration assistance program helping residents 65 years and older get vaccinated. We were able to help over 450 Maricopa County residents.
What motivates you? I am blessed to have the privilege to work side by side with family, bringing the vision full circle. Seeing significant changes in the lives of those we serve motivates us to keep giving back to the community. Often, we see members come to us at the worst... stages of their lives. It’s remarkable to witness their evolution as they transition back to their communities.
What do you want your legacy to be? I want to be remembered as someone who worked to eradicate homelessness for the serious mental illness population and other vulnerable adults.
Cari and Michael Sacks have worked to provide opportunities for CPS graduates to continue their education.
From endowing scholarships for Chicago Public Schools graduates at both Northwestern University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to their individual work in support of a variety of civic and cultural organizations, Cari and Michael Sacks have proved themselves to be two of Chicago’s major players in the world of philanthropy via the Sacks Family Foundation. As Cari takes on the role of board chair at the Museum of Contemporary Art, we get the scoop from this pair on their passion for giving back.
Cari, why is the MCA such an important cause for you? Contemporary artists inform the zeitgeist of the time in which they are working. We must listen to artists making work today to understand where we are as a culture. Artists reflect who we are as a society, and they raise flags before the rest of the world knows what we should even be paying attention to. Another reason the MCA is important to me is for what it offers to the community. The MCA has understood for quite some time that we need to be more than just a ‘white cube’ where pictures are hanging. It is our mission to welcome and consider the needs of every individual that walks through our doors, whether they want a place to grab a coffee, to work on their laptop, to gain perspective from our exhibitions, or to just sit and contemplate life.
What excites you most about your new role as MCA board chair? Serving as the board chair of the MCA is exciting to me because of the opportunity to effect real change in areas that I am passionate about. I can examine on a high level where we are through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion, and identify actions toward becoming better as an institution. I am dedicated to looking at all aspects of the MCA through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion, and making real changes that impact our community while working toward getting the institution on solid financial footing.
Together you have endowed scholarships at both Northwestern and SAIC for CPS students. Why is CPS also such an important cause for you? We are both the product of a strong public school education. We believe deeply that education is the answer to much of what ails our current society. Education brings opportunity and opportunity supports equality. Supporting CPS students with scholarships right here at NU and SAIC connects them to Chicago’s great cultural and educational institutions. Where better to put our resources than into our Chicago children.
What drives you to give back? We are driven to give back based on the simple idea that if we don’t, who will?
The Nolet family spirit of giving dates back to 1691 when Joannes Nolet established Nolet Distillery in Schiedam, Holland. Three centuries later, Carl Nolet Jr., president and CEO of Nolet Spirits U.S.A., and his wife, Janet Nolet, are carrying on that rich heritage through Ketel One Vodka and NOLET’S Silver Gin, the success of which has allowed them to make their mark on Orange County, Calif.’s philanthropic community and beyond. As the 11th generation of the Nolet family, Carl and Janet are inspiring the next generation of Nolets through their support of Oceana, Providence Mission Hospital Mission Viejo, Orange County Sheriff’s Advisory Council, GLAAD, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Foundation and Miracles for Kids.
How has philanthropy shaped your family’s life? Our family has always believed in the importance of paying it forward. We believe as a family that the spirit of giving needs to be done in the unspoken word. It’s about the charity or cause and not about us. It’s about being humble, possessing a sensitive awareness to the needs around you and responding in kindness. Our aim is to involve and guide our children in the philanthropic work that we do. We desire to foster an actionable ‘see something, do something’ mentality. By modeling a spirit of giving, we hope to inspire them to leave the world a better place.
Which philanthropic endeavors have meant the most to your family? We are most proud to contribute to those organizations whose service and work directly affect our local community, whether it’s supporting children’s health issues, environmental causes or the arts. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we established the Nolet Family Relief Program to provide meals and additional support to unemployed food and beverage hospitality workers. These individuals have had our back with Ketel One Vodka and NOLET’S Silver Gin for so many years and have always welcomed us to their bars and restaurants with open arms. During such a tough time of need, we wanted to make sure we did the same for those whose jobs were impacted by COVID-19.
Who inspires you? We draw inspiration from our family’s heritage. We have always maintained the highest standards in crafting the world’s best spirits. A foundational truth behind the success of our family’s business is quality and care before everything. We believe these standards can be applied to our philanthropy work as well. My father, Carl Nolet Sr., like the generation before him, has carefully guided us to carry on the legacy and heritage of our family and brands. He ingrained in us the importance of giving back. Our ambition is to provide this same guidance and mentorship to the rising 12th generation of Nolet family leaders.
Paola Velez has helped raise $2 million this year through Bakers Against Racism.
Creating the world’s largest multimillion-dollar philanthropic bake sale is only part of Paola Velez’s wild ride during the past 24 months. The James Beard-nominated pastry chef, who was raised in New York City and the Dominican Republic, founded Bakers Against Racism (@bakersagainstracism) and was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s best new chefs. She’s also a semifinalist this year for The Art of Plating’s Rising Talent award. Now based in Washington, D.C., Velez has become a superstar for spots like Milk Bar, Iron Gate and Michelin-starred Maydan.
We love the phrase “the world’s largest bake sale.” Where did Bakers Against Racism originate? I’ve always used baking as a means to fundraise and help my local community. For example, when I was a line cook in New York City, I volunteered at a small soup kitchen in Brooklyn named Freedom Square. I used what little I had—my skills as a cook—to help serve others. So when I was furloughed in 2020, I decided to start a pop-up called Doña Dona to again raise funds and awareness for the restaurant industry’s undocumented workforce. I held the pop-up for five weeks, and it’s actually here where I learned the tools and gathered the resources that I would ultimately share through Bakers Against Racism.
Initially, my goal was to enlist a total of 80 pastry chefs in and around D.C. and the East Coast. My big dream was to share tips and tricks I learned from the Doña Dona pop-up. [I figured we’d] collectively raise $96,000. What an amazing amount that would be, right?
To date, we’ve had more than 2,400 people participate in more than 40 states and 15 countries and have collectively raised more than $2 million for Black lives and social justice causes. We’ve also spawned a number of BAR chapters in places like New York, Seattle, Richmond, Kansas City and London. Our bakers have hosted thousands of sales, from micro pop-ups out of their home to virtual sales on Instagram to citywide baking consortiums, where groups of bakers partnered to sell their goods in pastry boxes packed to the brim.
What are your long-term goals for this philanthropic organization? To connect others in the broader baking community—both amateurs and culinary professionals—and create a sense of community and responsibility. We aim to continuously fight for Black lives and the lives of historically oppressed individuals. We also hope to utilize BAR as a mechanism through which local bakers can learn about issues and organizations effecting change in their local communities. [From there, they can use] their skills and resources to raise awareness and funds to effect change on both a local and national level.
What has surprised you the most about BAR’s success? To be honest, I’m still surprised that folks have been so willing and eager to participate. We have an amazing group of small but mighty bakers who are committed to raising awareness and effecting change in their communities, and I’m always so proud of them. We continue to host bake sale activations under the broad BAR umbrella. In fact, I’m currently preparing for our next activation this fall and winter, and we always welcome new participants. It’s never too late to fight for justice.
Rita and Chuck Steel with their daughters, Madison and Marla
Avid supporters of the City Ballet of San Diego, Rita and Chuck Steel are making leaps and bounds in their community as they gear up to serve as honorary chairs of the organization’s Love en L’Air 29th anniversary fundraising gala Feb. 12, 2022, at Hotel del Coronado. Rita, vice president of the board of directors for the ballet, has played an integral role in raising funds throughout the years and has further made a philanthropic impact through her career at Robert Half. As the president of professional talent solutions for the West and Southwestern United States at Robert Half, Rita pioneered the company’s annual suit drive nearly 20 years ago in partnership with Dress for Success, through which more than 400,000 pieces of apparel have been gathered for disadvantaged workers. Here, Rita and Chuck share how they’re setting an example for their daughters and the San Diego community at large.
How has philanthropy shaped your family’s life? We know that giving back to the community, if you are able, will make a difference in others’ lives, particularly those who may be less fortunate. We feel gratitude to be able to contribute. Growing up in New Jersey and being exposed to the performing arts in NYC at a young age instilled in both of us the desire to keep the arts alive here in San Diego. Our children are both trained ballet dancers and we’ve had the opportunity to see the growth, dedication and discipline this sport requires. Last season, we stepped up our financial support so City Ballet of San Diego could produce all virtual performances, education programs and fundraising events in 2020.
Who inspires you? Our daughters, Madison, 21, and Marla, 19, have been our inspiration. As parents, it has been critical to both of us to instill in them the importance of giving back to the community in many different ways. We are all in this together and we know that every contribution makes a difference. Since our children were young, they have been tagging along to many philanthropic working sessions, helping with event coordination and setup, and performing for local audiences. We have traveled to Mexico as a family many times to teach, prepare meals and provide supplies for schools serving underprivileged children. As our girls progressed into high school and now to college, they have found their own passions and made their own contributions by leading and assisting organizations on and off their campuses. It is a joy to see them carrying the torch!
Hayes and Susana Drumwright recently launched the Vida Valiente Foundation to help first-generation Americans.
Vida Valiente is a new Napa family wine label, estate winery and philanthropic foundation from tech entrepreneur Hayes Drumwright (co-founder of Memento Mori) and his wife, Susana, as well as winemakers Sam and Nancy Kaplan. Susana is a first-generation American, and the foundation was conceived by her to help fellow first-generation students find the perseverance and special insights required when navigating the uncharted territory of young careers. “Community means authentically investing in our most valuable resource—our youth—by inspiring them to chase the impossible in an attainable way,” says Susana.
What prompted the creation of the Vida Valiente Foundation?
Susana: The foundation reflects the impact that strong and accessible leaders had in my life as a first-generation American. First-generation, low-income students have the deck stacked against them as they enter higher education. The average student-to-school counselor ratio is 464-to-1. It’s that lack of mentorships that results in 90% of first-generation, low-income students in the United States taking more than six years to graduate from college—33% drop out after three years.
These are exactly the kids we’re betting on. Our program commitment includes four years of college financial support for each program scholar, as well as exposure to accessible business leaders who will offer real-world professional guidance in their lives. Our leaders are carefully selected to be vulnerable and relatable—willing to celebrate their own achievements as much as their failures. These are leaders who can prove that, regardless of where one starts, where one ends up is completely within their power.
What are your short- and long-term goals for the new foundation?
Hayes: We hope to help 100 students in our first two years. Long term, we hope to have thousands of graduates who actively provide leadership and opportunity to our scholars. Overcoming the odds while in college is just the first step for our scholars. Helping send empathetic leaders into the world who pay it forward through our systematic model is our 10- to 20-year plan.
What has been the reaction so far to the foundation?
Susana: Adriel Lares, CFO of Stash and Vida Valiente Foundation board member, shared with us, ‘As a child of immigrant parents, I know firsthand what a positive impact it means to have any kind of support on my journey. The Vida Valiente Foundation’s purpose to provide leadership and dollars to as many deserving kids as possible is greatly needed.’
What’s another big takeaway?
Hayes: Our funding goal is to be as close to self-sustaining as possible. Our winery in Napa Valley, Vida Valiente Winery, will donate $100 per bottle sold to the foundation.
From left : Brandon, Tyler, Lauren, Ella and Michael Wong
For Lauren and Michael Wong, giving back is a family affair. The couple along with their children, Tyler, 21, Brandon, 18, and Ella, 14, were recently recognized for their contributions to the Orange County, Calif. chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) as its Children’s Champions at its annual Celebration of Children Gala in September. Michael serves as vice chairman of CASA’s board for directors, is a member of the board of advisers for UC Irvine’s Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and is a member and former chairman of the Southern California chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Meanwhile, Lauren spreads her giving spirit to a variety of organizations, including CASA, the Harvesters of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, National Charity League’s Newport Beach chapter, The Pegasus School and Sage Hill School. Here, we check in with the wonderful Wongs.
How has philanthropy shaped your family’s life? We both come from families that immigrated to the United States with limited resources. Our parents and grandparents made significant sacrifices to provide better opportunities for future generations. Now that we live in an environment where problems are often first class in nature, it was important that our children remember that there are a lot of people who have been dealt a difficult hand and are facing foundational issues. We try to teach and model the importance of being empathetic and serving others.
Which philanthropic endeavors have meant the most to your family? We have been involved with numerous compelling causes, but the one that is nearest and dearest to our hearts is CASA. The outstanding job they do in supporting children in the foster care system has motivated all of us to roll up our sleeves and get involved. Michael is the vice chairman of the board; I have co-chaired multiple Celebration of Children fundraising galas; and our children have been actively involved with leading backpack drives and raising funds through selling holiday ornaments and organizing events, such as Restaurant Week. Most kids in the foster care system do not have parents or any family members to love and support them and often face repeated abandonment. CASA recruits, trains and aids volunteer advocates who are generally the only consistent pillar of support for these vulnerable children. The countless stories of how CASAs have turned around lives that were headed in the wrong direction are truly amazing.
Who inspires you? Our kids are our biggest inspiration. We are proud that each of them has identified philanthropic causes that are important to them and have gotten involved. Tyler has spent summers working for Loyola Project for the Innocent and Earth Friendly Products; Brandon’s strong connection to the CASA mission motivated him to become the founder and president of the Kids 4 CASA club at Sage Hill School; and our daughter, Ella, took her passion for protecting the environment and in 2020 trained to become one of the youngest members of The Climate Reality Project’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps.
Standing high above the Las Vegas Strip, Dustin Drai poses for a photo at Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub.
While Dustin Drai’s name is synonymous with Las Vegas nightlife—he and his legendary father, Victor Drai, are the masterminds behind Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub at The Cromwell, among many other successful concepts—giving back to the community is a cause that’s equally close to his heart. As the vice president of marketing and entertainment for Drai’s Management Group, Drai launched Drai’s Cares in 2017 to ensure the good times extend to those in need as well.
How has philanthropy shaped your life? Giving back to the community is something that has always been important to me. I have been extremely blessed in my life, so paying it forward and helping others around me has always been a priority of mine. Finding a way to help those in need is one of the best feelings in life and something that has been instilled in me from a young age. My dad came from nothing and has worked hard to get where he is today, so I want to be able to help others reach success as well. Growing up in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, I’ve seen firsthand how many people need assistance. We created Drai’s Cares so our entire team could come together to do meaningful things within our community.
Which philanthropic endeavors have meant the most to you? Through Drai’s Cares, we have supported Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada, The Shade Tree, Friends of Las Vegas Metro Police Department Foundation and more. We have also launched an annual backpack donation for the students at Arturo Cambeiro Elementary School, which is something I look forward to every year.
Who inspires you? My family has always taught me to be caring toward those around me. They inspire me every day to help others in the community. Having the opportunity to work alongside our fantastic Drai’s team has also been a great inspiration for me. Our team always shows heartfelt passion for giving back to the community. I love knowing that our team is full of such wonderful and compassionate people.
Mother-daughter philanthropic powerhouses Natasha and Ava Croxall
During the height of the pandemic last year, L.A.-based Ava Croxall decided to take action, delivering food and other essentials to families in need. She co-founded the organization COVID Relief Care in association with One Voice with her mother, Natasha, no doubt inspired by the values her mom instilled in her at a very young age. Here, the mother-daughter duo share their story.
Ava, when did you first become involved with charity work? I’ve always been involved in charity because my mom always has been. At a young age she would bring me to community service projects with her. Over the years, we have done Christmas drives for low-income families, fed people experiencing homelessness, and I volunteer at a year-round camp for children living with extreme medical conditions.
How did you come up with the idea for COVID Relief Fund? I was inspired by One Voice’s Christmas Adopt-a-Family program. One day during quarantine, I asked my mom how those families were doing with the pandemic, and I think we both knew they weren’t doing well. We began packaging and delivering food, clothes and household items for some families we got a hold of through One Voice. As we grew, we partnered with other organizations to provide food and drivers. Every other Saturday, we delivered to about 65 families across L.A. For Christmas, we held a huge drive and received wish lists from all the families. We bought toys, books, clothes, food, microwaves, etc., with donations that we gathered. After that, we continued to send out items.
Natasha, how do you plan to continue this work, even after COVID? We are continuing to support low-income families with supplies and food. St. Anne’s and One Voice are providing us with profiles for new families in distress; Westside Food Bank is providing groceries; Metropolis is helping us with a space and packing food/grocery bags; and National League of Young Men West Side is driving and doing our deliveries. We will continue, hopefully not through a COVID emergency, but for well-deserving low-income families that need a little extra support.
You must be so proud of Ava. How does she inspire you? Ava inspires me daily. She is wise beyond her years. She is cool, fun, smart, compassionate and a leader. Ava inspires me to do more work for our community. If you have a daughter who is your partner with nonprofit philanthropy, how could you ever quit? She inspires me to go full throttle and do as much as we possibly can.
Garrett Snider’s Resilience Foundation was founded in 2016.
In 2016, Garrett Snider founded The Childhood Resilience Foundation, a Philadelphia nonprofit that supports children and their families experiencing traumatic situations through a network of partner organizations across the country. Now serving as a board member, Snider’s other charitable efforts include Reeds Organic Farm & Animal Sanctuary, a food-centered nonprofit that doubles as a workforce development program. Here, Snider shares what’s ahead in 2022.
What inspired you to give back starting so early in your life? I had no idea I was doing that. I ended up in my first volunteer job as a preteen. I loved being part of a team and took pride in having responsibilities. A few years ago, Monica Lewinsky (a founding Resilience Foundation board member) brought a speaker to a local middle school who told a packed auditorium that you’re never too young or too old to change your life. Hearing that reminded me of the special debt I owe to the community of adults who helped guide me to my purpose.
What is your proudest moment? In 2007, I was gripped by the heinous triple murder that occurred in a private home in Connecticut and claimed the lives of Dr. Bill Petit’s wife and two daughters. The news captivated the world and sent me into weeks of nights I couldn’t sleep in a dark room. I had no idea I was about to meet Dr. Petit and become a trustee of the nonprofit he created to do amazing work in honor of his girls. Bill is also a director of the Resilience Foundation. I can’t describe the impact of knowing him and his family. It’s a master class in handling sensitive issues while also addressing them effectively.
What’s next for the foundation in 2022? Not enough schools are adequately equipped to teach students AP-level courses. This puts kids in poor schools at a galling disadvantage while they sit for the same standardized tests as those who were better educated on the same material. We’re launching a new relationship between our organization and the National Math and Science Initiative to pilot a data-proven educational program to change that.
Power player Grace Cook poses for a sweet snap with pups Teddy, Rocky and Zeus.
Dallas native Grace Cook (@tlcookie) constantly strives to champion the incredible work being done throughout the city. What’s her trick? Working hand in hand with the community to empower, engage and inspire greatness—together. She currently serves on more than 10 boards in the Dallas area spanning from arts and culture to nature preservation to medical research. When she’s not running around town, this passionate patron can be found playing with her three pups and two cats, or wrangling her 30 chickens.
What sparked your love for giving back to the community? I first started attending events as my mom’s guest, where I was surrounded by some amazing philanthropic icons. My main idol has always been my grandmother Margaret McDermott. Early in my professional career, I started selling Cutco knives and discovered that my sales prowess translated easily into Dallas’ philanthropic world.
Who would you say has been your biggest influence? Hands down, my grandmother. She taught me to give until my pockets are bare, question what has been adopted as known, and to take advantage of every moment of the day. I wouldn’t be who I am without her.
What organizations are you passionate about helping? I just completed my yearlong service as a member of the Mayor’s Star Council. I currently serve on The McDermott Foundation, the auxiliary board and board of directors for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the alumni and board of trustees for The Lamplighter School, the board of directors for the Dallas Symphony, the steering committee of the Dallas Museum of Art’s Junior Associates, The McDermott Art Fund, the Thomsen Foundation, the Trinity River Audubon Center’s advisory board, the steering committee of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Cary Council, as well as an ex officio member of UT Southwestern’s public affairs committee. It’s enough to keep me busy!
What is something you constantly strive for? The best advice I ever received was from my grandmother. She constantly reminded me that one can never say thank you enough. In every aspect of my life, I try to emulate all of the wonderful qualities she possessed. My grandmother was the most giving person I have ever known and yet would spend hours a week writing thank-you notes to all of those who shared time with her. I do my best to let people know how much I appreciate them and the work they do to make Dallas a better place for us all. I recognize the strength that relationships forge in our pursuit of community support and improvement. Her ability to form genuine and authentic relationships with everyone around her has taught me how to build bonds, and that the very foundation of our community is our community.
What’s next? The Trinity River Audubon Center’s Scissor-tails & Cocktails party this coming spring. I am also excited to be chairing the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s annual Big Dance in summer, themed Boot Scootin Boogie. They’re bound to be spectacular hits!
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO COURTESY OF KARA ZEDER ROSEN; PHOTO BY SUSAN CURRIE; PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT BOYD PHOTOGRAPHY; PHOTO BY CHEN MAN; PHOTO COURTESY OF LIZ AGBOOLA; PHOTO BY MARCELLO RODARTE; PHOTO BY LISA RENEE PHOTOGRAPHY; PHOTO BY HECTOR VELEZ; PHOTO BY PETER AND VERONIKA; PHOTO COURTESY OF THE VIDA VALIENTE WINERY AND FOUNDATION; PHOTO BY JOHN WATKINS PHOTOGRAPHY; PHOTO BY WADE VANDERVORT; PHOTO BY ELIZABETH BERISTAIN; PHOTO BY SUSAN BEARD; PHOTO BY ROBERT GUERRA