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Any of you who know me know my love for Chapman University, and I must admit the recent Women of Chapman event honoring the first recipients of the group’s $1 million student filmmaker endowment for the university’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts was a high point for me. The group’s annual Summer Luncheon, held at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort in Newport Beach, recognized four student winners, who were selected by a group of WOC board members, headed by Adrienne Brennan, the group’s Filmmaker Endowment Chair. The merit-based awards for the students’ senior film projects were presented to Genna Ford for her film “Bone Wars,” Naomi Shepherd for “Half Way,” Elizabeth Iverson for “Suite for Two Band Geeks,” and Kelly Lennard for “An American in Venice.” Each one of the students was so appreciative of the support. It was really heartening to see.

Donna Calvert and I chaired the warmhearted affair, with President Kathy Hamilton acting as mistress of ceremonies. Membership Chairs Donna Bianchi and Kim Smith recognized the group’s 29 new members for the 2011-2012 year, and the group’s outgoing and incoming boards of directors were acknowledged by Hamilton and Nominating Committee Chair Jacqui Penner, respectively. The delicious lunch, with a choice of the Bay Club’s popular Mariner’s Seafood Salad or the Macadamia-Encrusted Mahi Mahi, drew raves, thanks to the club’s Catering Director and WOC member Danielle Staffieri. Another rave was for the stunning fall fashions presented by Neiman Marcus, Fashion Island, and modeled informally throughout lunch. Big thanks to the store’s Director of Public Relations Michaele Hall, also a WOC member, who gave a short preview of fall fashion for the many fashionistas present. Smoking shoes are in! Who knew?!

Chapman University President Jim Doti spoke about the university’s continuing ascent in the academic and arts world and credited the importance of the Women of Chapman’s ongoing fundraising for the university’s success. Anne Manassero, who chaired the group’s big fundraiser, “Christmas at The Ritz,” last December, presented an enlarged check representing the $250,000 given to the university, explaining that $180,000 of the monies completed the group’s $1 million endowment pledge (sooner than expected, I might add), with the remaining money going to the group’s two new pledges – $1 million to the College of Performing Arts (due to break ground in September) and $500,000 to Dodge College’s proposed Millennial Studios. Accepting the check along with Doti was Dodge College Dean Bob Bassett and Center for the Arts Dean and Artistic Director William Hall.

The party continued for many of the board members in the First Cabin bar. Donna Calvert and Sarah Corrigan took some good natured kidding about wearing the same Dolce & Gabbana dress. Good friends all, it truly is a family – a Chapman family!

Photographs by John Saadi