It was a chilly evening in Los Angeles, but there was nothing but warmth between our presenters, honorees, attendees, IHADLA Dreamers and staff. Melissa Peterman was once again a sparkling MC bringing her sharp wit and big heart to the room.
Thank you so much to everyone who helped us raise more than $620,000 in charitable contributions for our 30th Anniversary Celebration 2017 Dreamer Dinner with your ticket purchases, table sponsorships, auction donations, and congratulatory messages.
Our next Dreamer Dinner will be March 18, 2018. We hope to see you then!
IHADLA March 5th Dreamer Dinner Video
IHADLA 30th Anniversary Video
Special thanks to our sponsors (in alphabetical order):
American Film Institute (AFI)
Bain & Company
Blazing Saddles Indoor Cycling
Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano
Darryl & Vanessa Frank/Frank Family Wines
Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller LLP
Peter & Jennifer Heilbron
Keshmiri Art & Antiques
Larchmont Beauty Center
Los Angeles Rams
Michelman & Robinson
O’Melveny & Myers
David & Liz Ondaatje
Roclord Portrait Photography
Sid & Lorraine Sheinberg
Step and Repeat LA
Styled by Cora
The Barry & Wendy Meyer Foundation
The Bascom Group
The Dolby Theater
The Gotham Group
Rob Thomas – Spondoolie Productions
United Talent Agency
UR Holdings/SRG Roofing
Warner Bros. Television Group
Tom & Ellie Wertheimer
Young’s Market Company
Mentoring: Jannell Lewis, Program Manager and Mentor Couple: Josh Halloway and Sarah Geismer
My name is Janell Lewis and I am the Program Manager for IHADLA. Part of my role includes overseeing our mentor program. Our IHADLA mentors are committed and caring adults who build trusting relationships with our Dreamers, expose them to new life adventures, and encourage their educational achievement. It’s easy to become a mentor! All we ask is that mentors make a one year commitment and during that year carry out the following:
– have two face to face visits for the first three months, and one thereafter
– weekly communication via phone or email
– monthly communication with one of our program coordinators
– attend one in-service training each year
Our requirements help demonstrate your commitment as a mentor and allows you to quickly build rapport with your mentee. If this sounds like a good fit for you, then please feel free to reach out to me or submit an application on our website. Now, without further ado, I’m pleased to introduce you to two of our marvelous mentors that I had the pleasure of connecting to their mentees. Josh and Sarah, would you please join on the stage.
Comedian, Melissa Peterman – Dreamer Dinner MC Opening Remarks
I’m thrilled to be back hosting for the fourth time tonight – which was truly up in the air as late in the game it was discovered that I might have ties to Russia. I reminded them that I’ve had no hiccups in hosting before, but for safety, they still informed me of exact protocol as host should one of the honorees go rogue and decide to announce LA LA LAND as best picture.
We want to thank everyone here tonight for helping to honor and support our at-risk youth at I Have a Dream Foundation Los Angeles. They have put a lot of love into our programs to provide education, mentorship, cultural enrichment, college and career preparation, as well as scholarships for higher education. IHADLA chooses an entire grade of students (known as “Dreamers”) and supports them from early elementary school all the way through college – with financial support, after-school tutoring, college preparation, field trips, and mental and social encouragement. Since 1987, IHADLA has worked directly with more than 1,000 students and have just graduated their 14th Cohort as they’ve sponsored their 19th program at Sunrise elementary school in Boyle Heights.
They create a ripple effect by working with whole families, communities and schools which has benefitted over 7,000 others. IHADLA is also currently sponsoring students at schools in Watts and Inglewood. “I Have A Dream” teaches students and their families that you need to learn to earn. And now, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the Chief Executive Officer of I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles, Debra Fine.
Debra Fine, CEO, I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles
Melissa, thank you SO much for being such an amazing Emcee and a part of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation family! After honoring us as Emcee for four years, we’re going to owe you residuals!
For tonight’s event, we send heartfelt thanks to our incredible Dreamer Dinner Committee, Please stand – Kelly Goode, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Neil Sacker, Richard Wolf; our co-chairs, Laurie Zaks, Nancy Cotton, and event producer Andrew Carlberg!!
Thanks to our Board of Directors : Please stand!
And to our Dream Team Staff…There are 18 employees of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles. 18 men & women, all of whom are in college or graduates – several with Master’s Degrees, and one who will finish her PHD in May. They have all chosen to give back as their career.
To Wilma, Janell, and all our other amazing Project Coordinators, Thank you, Dream Team. Please stand. I hope you know how valuable you all are to our Dreamers, the Foundation, and to our communities.
I’m humbled and honored that I get to work at the “I Have A Dream” Foundation. We’re all immigrants, whether it’s one generation or three generations ago. They all came here looking for a better life, a better way to make a living, a future for their families. For US. All of US.
My Grandfather came to the U.S when he was 17. A shopkeeper let him sleep in back of the store and paid him 50 Cents/Week plus food. He went on to graduate college at 79 and endowed a scholarship fund in Berwyn Illinois.
Someone put out a hand to him. A hand….An Opportunity….That’s all we’re asking, that’s all our Dreamers are asking. For an opportunity. For the grace that every one of us has the ability to give. It is not a responsibility to give it is a privilege and an honor to give.
As Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.’
They would now like to share their stories with you. (shows 30th anniversary video).
Honoree, Susan Rovner Accepting Her Dream Keeper Award
Thank you Ava for that beautiful introduction. I also want to give a special thanks to my dear friend Nancy Cotton who introduced me to this wonderful organization. Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in heels. That is a famous saying that I think of often as I reflect on the journey of my career. I am not going to lie – it hasn’t always been easy. There are more times than I care to admit that I faced sexism – Where I was offered significantly less money than my male counterparts, where I was told I should be happy with the amount of money because it was “pretty good for a girl”, Where a promotion was given to a less qualified male, Where I was told “we don’t promote people who wear skirts” and”we won’t promote you because you are a mother who prioritizes her family.” There were days when I wanted to stop fighting, where I was so tired and I honestly didn’t think I could face another battle. Days when I just wanted to stay in bed, pull up my covers and sleep the problems away. But I would get out of bed, get dressed and say “today is another day” because I love my job – I love television – I love creative talent – this was my dream and no one battle was going to make me lose my war. And then Hillary won the primary. She was officially running to become the next President of the United States. And everyone was certain she was going to win. My outlook completely changed. I thought all the fights and battles were worth it. Finally the ultimate glass ceiling was going to break and everything I ever dreamed for myself and other women was finally going to be possible. The United States would have their first female President. The world would no longer judge me on my gender, but on my abilities. Finally everything was going to be worth it. Well we all know I didn’t get my happy ending. Far from it. The school yard bully won. The sexist, homophobic, racist man won. And once again, it was really hard to get out of bed. I wondered why had I had fought so hard, I wondered if it was worth anything, I wondered if we could ever break the glass ceiling, if hitting it was simply inevitable.
Until I saw my 15 year old daughter’s Instagram post the next morning that beautifully reflected on what happened with a vow that her generation would fight back. I knew giving up was not an option. I knew that there was a new generation of leaders and activists that needed mentors and that maybe this was to be the next chapter of my life – mentoring the next generation to continue the fight.
I reflected on what I had accomplished during my 19 years at Warner Bros. TV and I knew that one election could not and would not take that away. When I started at Warner Bros. TV, I was the only woman in the Development department and well, let’s just say that ha definitely changed. In fact, all the heads of our creative departments are now women. We weren’t producing very many diverse shows – now we produce many, including Queen Sugar, Claws, Scalped, and Black Lightning to name a few. On Queen Sugar, thanks to the incredible Ava DuVernay- our entire production team is inclusive and we have hired only women directors, many directing their first episode of television (fyi – every single episode came in on time, on budget and beautifully shot). We are demanding and hiring more and more diverse voices, diverse executives and not because it is the right thing (which it is) but because they are the best for the job and have earned their place at the table. And no bully, no election, could change that, that now more than ever I couldn’t stop fighting but the fight was no longer for me, the fight was for the next generation.
Which leads me to the I HAVE A DREAM FOUNDATION – Los Angeles and to my amazing visit to the Inglewood Charter High School. There I meet Karla, Wilma, Janell, Kylia, Chaznae, and Erik. I was blown away by the optimism, passion, intelligence and determination of these program leaders. And when I say leaders, I mean true leaders. I saw their hard work, hope and of course their DREAMS. I heard about their incredible success and their impressive statistics. I then met some of the incredible DREAMERS who were studying for their SATs on a beautiful Saturday morning. I am sure they would have preferred to be anywhere besides a classroom but there they were studying so hard and doing math I could not make heads or tails of. I was so impressed. I saw in these students our next leaders and it gave me so much joy.
Many things in life are hard, but when you have people that believe in you and stand behind you and lift you up, it sure is a lot easier. And that is exactly what I HAVE A DREAM is about. I see in front of me the leaders of tomorrow and despite the outcome of the election and the current state of the world, I now feel more hope, love and promise than ever before. I look at my three beautiful children, Harry, Alyse and Adam, who are here today, and I know that their presence has already made the world a better place and I know that in the future they will continue to make the world a better place. I know the same is true for each of you, for each leader and Dreamer in this amazing program. Your presence makes this world better and I know that if you continue to work hard and DREAM, your future is going to be without bounds. You can and will be instruments of change, dreamers who not only dream but who do.
The day of the Inauguration, it rained harder than I have ever seen in Los Angeles. Same in Washington DC, Atlanta and many cities around the United States. But the morning of the Woman’s March, the very next day, the sun came shining out all over those same cities. And no one can tell me that wasn’t god performing a miracle that day and his or her way of saying we were in the right and to keep fighting because the light will shine upon us – so while the world right now feels dark and stormy, remember a rainbow always follows the storm and all of you who make up so many beautiful colors will be that rainbow, a rainbow of hope, of change and of DREAMS.
Thank you to The “I Have a Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles. Today we honor you and all the incredible work you have done. Thank you.
Marsai Martin Star of Blackish Presenting Dream Keeper Award to Jamila Hunter
It is my great honor to present a 2017 Dream Keeper Award to someone I so greatly admire, Jamila Hunter. Not only does she have great taste as an executive at ABC – she did develop Blackish after all – but she has a kind and caring nature that extends to all of those lucky to call themselves her cast, crew or coworker. In addition to Blackish, she’s been instrumental in the success of current hits Fresh Off The Boat, The Real O’Neals and Last Man Standing, among many others. Jamila’s passion for helping and encouraging others extends beyond the I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles. She’s an Advisory Board Member for Ghetto Film School (GFS), an award-winning non-profit founded in 2000 to educate, develop and celebrate the next generation of great American storytellers. Based in the South Bronx NYC and MacArthur Park LA, GFS builds a pipeline of diverse, creative talent by exposing high-school students to 1,000+ hours of hands-on training and instruction from leading filmmakers and industry professionals free of charge. At her alma mater, Spelman College, she Established the “Tell Our Stories” scholarship, which supports African American women who plan to pursue a career in the arts. Jamila is active with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a Member of the Steering Committee for Disney’s first Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) focused on African American cultural insights and experiences, as well as Mentor in the Colour Entertainment Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to maximizing the potential of diverse executives, and aspiring executive, who work in the entertainment industry. Needless to say Jamila Hunter is an inspiration, a leader and an example to all of us Los Angeles youth looking to make the world a better place, while using our distinct voices to do so. It’s my great honor to present this Dreamer Keeper Award to my friend, Jamila Hunter.
Henry Ward, Program Coordinator for IHADLA Program Number One and Aldo Gutierrez Dreamer from Program One
Good Evening my name is Henry Ward, I am Director of Intercultural Affairs at Loyola Marymount University and it my great pleasure to be with you this evening. 30 years ago I was selected to become a part of a new educational scholarship program called the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles. I had actually seen the 60 minute interview with Eugene Lang and I was all too excited to be a part of this new venture. Two schools had been identified, 52 street school and Holmes Aves. We had 5 projects 5 sponsors and 5 project coordinators. Our role as program coordinators sounded simple enough; to provide the academic and social enrichment which would facilitate the dreamers’ transition into college. What I didn’t know at the time was how much this program would impact the Dreamers, their families and the community. What I didn’t know at the time was how much this experience would impact the program coordinators and the sponsors. I think it should have been named the “I Have a Dream” Foundation Family because that’s what it was, a family. Shanley was 3 so she grew up around the Dreamers. When she was 6 she declared to me and my wife that she was going to marry Aldo Gutierrez who was about 14; I think she liked him because they were about the same size. Aldo like many of the Dreamers was a part of our family. We worked on his homework, Linda and I went to Verbum Dei high school to watch him play basketball, we went to the San Diego wild animal Park, he was a tough guy on the streets but he was scared to death of those baby goats in the petting zoo. We flew to New York City and he was actually interviewed on the today show regarding his experiences as an LA Dreamer. I can’t tell you how much I love this young man, We are Facebook friends and I read his every post, I see pics of his children and his wife and how much pride he takes in being a good husband and a great father. When I talk about the success of this program I point to Dreamers like Aldo, Teshana, Torrey, Shauntia, Shanice, James, Andre, and Nakeya who work every day to support their families and be productive citizens. I am honored to have this opportunity to introduce to you a Dreamer from the original cohort and the Dreamer who almost became my son-in-law Mr. Aldo Gutierrez.
Sarah Paulson Presenting IHADLA Dream Keeper Award to Marcia Clark
Aaron Burns, Dreamer from Program 18, Watts
My name is Aaron Burns. I am a Dreamer from Program 18 in Watts, College Class of 2022. I have been with the I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles since 3rd grade. I’m currently a 7th grade Dreamers attending Animo James B. Taylor Charter Middle School. I Have a Dream has guided me through my education and put me on the escalator to success. I Have a Dream encourages me to go the extra mile in my educational journey. IHADLA also keeps me working and focusing on my academics as well as helping me build connections with not just the program coordinators, but everyone I encounter. They have taken me on field trips to Universities, camping and to multiple Dreamer Dinners where I get to have new experiences. In addition, I Have a Dream helps me with my emotional distress and helps push me through the difficult times in my life. Everyone says that I have a good sense of humor which is most necessary when you are the only boy with 4 younger sisters. Thanks to I Have a Dream, I have an opportunity to get away from having to talk about nail polish and glitter. I’m in the Boys Group led by Mr. Campos, where I learn about boyhood/manhood and making smart decisions. My career goal is to attend Yale University and receive a Doctorate degree to become a CIA agent. Lastly, I really want to give back and no better way to do that than to become the new CEO of I Have A Dream Foundation – Los Angeles, what do you think Ms. Debra? Thank you!
Board of Directors Caught on Camera at Our Dreamer Dinner
A Few of Our Wonderful Attendees
Dreamers and Staff from Past and Present Celebrating our 30th Anniversary
A Few of the Many Dreamer Dinner Related Social Posts.
Thank you to everyone who posted!
— Jonathan Lipnicki (@JLIPNICKI) March 6, 2017
— Wilmer Valderrama (@WValderrama) March 6, 2017
— Eric B. Anthony© (@EricBAnthony) March 6, 2017
— khawk08 (@khawk08) March 6, 2017
— David Weingarten (@thedwein) March 6, 2017
Yes, the whole evening was quite phenomenal! I'm so looking forward to getting involved with your worthy foundation.
— Eric B. Anthony© (@EricBAnthony) March 7, 2017
I'm lucky to be there! It's always an inspiring night that makes it possible to continue supporting these amazing kids.
— Melissa Peterman (@Followtheblonde) March 7, 2017
— Diana "Dīlee" Maher♡ DILEE, INC. (@DileeInc) March 16, 2017
— Diana "Dīlee" Maher♡ DILEE, INC. (@DileeInc) March 16, 2017
Press Coverage of the IHADLA 30th Anniversary Dreamer Dinner
3/5 KTLA Sunday 9pm news video (shown again at 10pm)
3/6 The Hollywood Reporter
Quotes from presenter, Ava DuVernay, honoree Susan Rovner and presenter Sarah Paulson
3/6 KIIS Radio and Syndicated
Interview with Debra Fine and Henry Ward
3/10 Beverly Hills Courier
Page 4 To See and Be Seen
3/10 The Wrap
Marcia Clark was interviewed during the IHADLA Dreamer Dinner
3/16 The Hollywood Reporter
‘Around Town’ section
CNN used a photo of Jonathan Lipnicki on our Step and Repeat for a story about Jonathan’s generous outreach to kids who get bullied
3/19 KOST Radio
The Sunday Journal interview with Debra Fine on KOST 103.5