We Had a Great Night: Our D.C. Gala

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 @ 4:56PM

Three ingredients for a great party: good company, compelling conversation, and great food. On Saturday October 17, our JSA family brought them all.

The Junior State of America’s annual fall gala took place at Joe’s Stone Crab in Washington, DC this year. The lively veranda and dining room became a warm retreat against the capitol’s chilly fall weather. As old friends ran into one another and new connections were made, it became clear how the evening would unfold—and what JSA events are known for: shared passion around a compelling mission, and the easy laughter that comes from shared memories.

Hosted by Jim Lintott (’82), Mike McCurry (’72), and Rachel Kaganoff Stern (’82), the event brought alumni, students, teachers and supporters from all generations to celebrate JSA’s long history and bright future for the programs that serve over 11,000 young people every year.

Programmatic impact was highlighted with the honoring of Alliance Patti & Peter Neuwirth Leadership Academy’s 2014-15 leadership. The Alliance charter network serves low-income youth from South Los Angeles, and this particular chapter won the 2015 National Civic Impact Award for increasing civic engagement in their school, neighborhood, and city. “I know basically everyone at the event says that JSA was life-changing experience,” says Floyd Black, now a college student at University of Virginia. “For us kids growing up in a South L.A. community, it really was. Growing up where we did could have put us on so many different paths, but JSA put us on a positive path to make a positive difference in our communities.”

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Over dinner, Dan Schnur (JSF trustee and director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute on Politics) moderated a panel on the impact of millennials in politics and the changing landscape of political journalism. POLITICO Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris and TIME journalist Jay Newton-Small shared their expertise on the changing political landscape and the way news travels, while Roberto Ruiz-Melendez (’16), JSA’s current Mid-Atlantic Governor, spoke passionately about youth activism and civic engagement. It’s enough to say that we cannot underestimate the impact millennials could have on political change through their votes and on social media. We had many young JSA alumni in the crowd who could certainly assert themselves against any disengaged stereotypes.

Guests and sponsors contributed $200,000 in support of this special event. Proceeds will support all Junior State activities, including service to youth from all socioeconomic backgrounds in civic education and engagement.

We couldn’t have done it without our sponsors, our young alumni volunteers, and the fantastic smiles on each of our guests. You all are the reason we can do what we do, and we can’t wait until the next JSA reunion to celebrate further.

To find more images from our event, you can visit our album.

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