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Black Tie and Tales
Black Tie Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015 7 years ago

Black Tie & Tales

Backstage at the Asolo Gala …; A sister and a dog named Ava; and Tidbits

+ Backstage at the Asolo Gala …
It was “Katie, bar the door” at the annual gala benefiting the Asolo Rep’s outreach and educational programs with 450 of the theater’s “family” (and it is a family) packed tightly into two-thirds of the Ritz-Carlton ballroom … First encounters … Saks Fifth Avenue’s Sally Schule was an early arrival and stashed her new General Manager Terri Najmolhoda in Jack Dusty. Then she volunteered to help co-chair Janet Walter’s husband, Steve, rearrange a not-up-to-her standards bow tie ... “100% Laura” … was Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards’ tribute to Events Manager Laura Stuart Wood. Co-chair Debbie Haspel poetically deemed it “a reflection of the perfection of the Asolo.” Wood, who has put in seven years so far at the Asolo, has unarguably set a new standard for fundraising events in Sarasota …

Asolo Repu2019s event manager extraordinaire Laura Stuart Wood. Photo by Cliff Roles.

How nice to meet you Marge and Bill Sandy brought her sister Judy Lieberman to the party. And attending with Debbie and Larry Haspel were his brother and sister-in-law, Ahron and Ruth Haspel, whose winter home is the Ritz Beach Club … Missing and missed … Gold table sponsors Tom and Ann Charters got stuck in New York City when weather cancelled their flight, and Margot and Warren Coville got stuck at home, doctor’s orders … The man in white … not too many can carry off this look. Meet Mark Barish of Adkins Florida Group, a friend of Eric Clark who is married to photographer Wendy ClarkThe color of the evening … was various shades of magenta, believe it or not, from Margaret Wise’s gown to Asolo board president Mary Lou Winnick’s evening skirt to Bruce Lesser’s brocade dinner jacket … How can this be? … Bruce and India Lesser are off on a cruise to celebrate their 45th anniversary … Looking ahead … Nice to see Teri Hansen and Chuck Barancik on one side of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation table across from their spouses Steve Wilberding and Margie BarancikSssshhhhhhh … the ever-so-fit Matt Faucher, who played Stewpot in “South Pacific” and was emcee for the gala, had a hard time quieting the Asolo crowd. Co-Chair Jennifer Rust came to his rescue, saying she had seen Cliff Roles do it with a long, loud “Sssshhhhhhhhh.” Later on, the same tactic worked for Executive Director Linda DiGabriele during a paddle raise … Long time, no seeKathy Cole, who divides her time between Colorado and Florida, stayed in town an extra day to attend the gala with her long-time friend, Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips and Cathy Cole. Photo by Molly Schechter.

A double date?  … On being asked whether he was escorting Flora or Flori (Major or Roberts), AJC Regional Director Brian Lipton answered “both!” … And the winner is … If there were an Oscar for fundraising videos, Asolo media associate Jacob Duvall would win. He produced two beauties — he featured the Broadway-bound 2016 production of “Josephine” and it is not difficult to make Josephine Baker look good. Dramatizing the benefits of what you are raising money for is another matter entirely. Duvall’s video was graphic, gorgeous and beautifully brief and to the point. If only they were all like that …

+ A sister and a dog named Ava
Deb Knowles Kabinoff formed “Team Ava” four years ago to honor the memory of her sister Ava and to benefit Southeastern Guide Dogs. In 2014, it was the largest and loudest team to participate in the organization’s walkathon, exceeding its financial goal and donating enough money to sponsor its third guide-dog puppy, Ava 3. She will walk with her puppy raiser in this year’s event 10 a.m. Saturday, March 21, at Payne Park.

You, too, can be part of the gang making the 1-kilometer trek around the track and enjoying breakfast courtesy of corporate sponsor Accrisoft Corp. Sign up by visiting

Deb Knowles Kabinoff with Cheryl Hurley, who received Guide Dog Ava 1. Courtesy photo.

+ Tidbits
All chiefs and no Indians … the Jewish Family & Children’s Service gala will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year and the founder of the event and original chairperson Marie Monsky (2006) had the idea to create an honorary committee composed of all the past chairs. Most of them made it to a kick-off meeting last month. They are Nikki Nilon and Molly Schechter (2007), Sally Yanowitz (2008), Sue Jacobson, Barbara Lupoff, Kathy Killion and Steve Miles (2009), Gerri Aaron (2010), Judy Cahn and Marie Monsky (2011), Margie Barancik and Clare Segall (2012), Peggy and Ken Abt (2013) and Scott and Jill Levine and Steve and Lisa Seidensticker (2014). The co-chairs for the 2015 gala set for Dec. 15 are Debbie Haspel and Susan MalitzMighty Oaks … A mere 12 years ago, Maureen Horn, with a little help from her friends, created Tea to Tequila as a women’s networking group on Longboat Key with the goal of enjoying her old friends and making new ones. These days she reports a host of events that are virtually sold out, many with 150 participants. Interested? Visit teatotequila.comCongrats … Education Foundation’s Feb. 27 Evening of Excellence event reports it grossed more than $275,000 for Sarasota County schools. The evening combines dinner with a lively auction that puts the top 25 student art works up for sale to the highest bidder. The program has raised more than $2.7 million for schools, students and teachers since 1996.

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