On the Scene
Mellody Hobson at After School Matters gala./photo by Juan Martinez Photography 0

Toasting After School Matters, purple martinis and all

September 20th, 2016

Chicago isn’t Hollywood, as billionaire Peter Thiel reminded us recently. But it can get glitzy as it did Monday at Navy Pier for the annual After School Matters gala. The event raised $4.5 million (and counting).

At every turn was one big Chicago name.

Mellody Hobson, the president of Ariel Investments, sat at a table with Marty Nesbitt. She’s chairman of After School Matters and he’s the Chicago businessman helping plan the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum.

Michael Sacks of GCM Grosvenor asset management company chatted with Ron Levin, a private wealth executive at Goldman Sachs. Levin co-founded Invest for Kids nonprofit that will feature Sacks next month.

At another table were friends who run in high-profile circles: Desiree Rogers and Linda Johnson Rice, executives with Johnson Publishing businesses; Neal Zucker, the CEO of window-washing firm Corporate Cleaning Services; Marko Iglendza, founder of Terminal Getaway airport spas; nonprofit consultant Shawn Donnelley; and style mavens Mario and Traci Tricoci.

Nearby were SkinnyPop founder Pam Netzky and her wife, Ashley Hemphill.

Field Museum President Richard Lariviere exchanged cards with Chicago Community Trust CEO Terry Mazany.

And when Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the stage, he thanked Richard M. Daley for “creating something that’s famous around the world.” He was referring to After School Matters, an organization that came up in conversation, he said, with the London mayor who was in town last week. Daley nodded at the hat-tip. His late wife, Maggie Daley, co-founded the program 25 years ago. The former mayor was seated by Richard Levy, CEO of Victory Park Capital (owner of Giordano’s pizza).

During a leisurely cocktail hour with purple martinis, guests talked about the new African American history museum in Washington, D.C., sending children off to college (Leslie Bluhm and Cari Sacks) and the political buzz on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

There was an especially funny exchange between John McCarter, who sits on the board of the Smithsonian Institution, and Walter Massey, chancellor of the School of the Art Institute.

McCarter said he had to cancel plans to visit a princess in England to talk about building a Smithsonian outpost there. She had to cancel, he said, because “She got what Hillary had.”

Without skipping a beat, Massey said, “You mean she had a problem with her emails?”

Big laughs (cough, cough) followed.

For all the big names, it was a Prince tribute performance performed by teens that drew the standing O–after the crowd sang along to “Purple Rain.”

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