Moving & Shaking: Milken Institute Global Conference, Women of Excellence Awards luncheon and more

May 12, 2017
Former President George W. Bush with Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute. Photo courtesy of Milken Institute

“Building Meaningful Lives” was the theme of the 20th annual Milken Institute Global Conference, held April 30 through May 3 at the Beverly Hilton.

The conference, which drew more than 4,000 attendees from 48 states and over 50 countries, bills itself as convening “the best minds in the world to tackle the most stubborn challenges.” One of those challenges is California’s water supply. “I have no doubt California can stand up to its [water shortage] challenges,” Eli Groner, director general of the office of Israel’s prime minister, said during a May 3 panel titled “Start-up Nations: Creating Laboratories for Developing Economies.” “It has been done, can be done,” Groner said, “but it takes real focus.”

Joining Groner were Jeremy Bentley, head of financial institutions and public sector for Citi Israel; Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board; Richard Blum, chairman of Blum Capital and former chair of the University of California Board of Regents; Angela Homsi, director of the Angaza-Africa Impact Innovation Fund; and Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Glenn Yago, senior fellow and founder of the Milken Institute’s Financial Innovations Labs and the senior director of the Milken Innovation Center at the Jerusalem Institute, moderated the discussion.

Antendee Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said he wished supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel could have heard the speakers from Africa discuss the work they are doing in partnership with Israeli businesses. “This is reality, and BDS is ideology,” Cooper said. “It’s a shame.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Photo courtesy of Milken Institute

The event featured political, business and entertainment leaders participating in speaker sessions and panels on a variety of topics.

Former President George W. Bush participated in a conversation with Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute, on May 3. At the beginning of their discussion, they talked about increasing foreign aid to Africa, part of the 43rd president’s legacy. “I believe all life is precious, and I believe we’re all God’s children,” Bush said.

Additional speakers included U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who discussed the effectiveness of implementing sanctions against countries sponsoring terrorism.

“These sanctions really do work,” he said during an interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business Network. “When you cut off the money to terrorist organizations, you have a big impact. And I think you saw this in the case of Iran.”

Sherry Lansing, CEO of the Sherry Lansing Foundation and former film studio executive. Photo courtesy of Milken Institute

Jamie Dimon, chairman, president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, who is working closely with President Donald Trump, said he has advised the president on business matters such as China’s currency manipulation. “I was not a Trump supporter, but he asked me to serve in [the president’s business strategic advisory council]. I was criticized by a lot of people, including one of my daughters. … [But] I’m a patriot. I am going to try the best I can to help my country,” Dimon said in an interview with Willow Bay, the incoming dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

From left: Jon Favreau, Eddy Cue and J.J. Abrams. Photo by Ryan Torok

A dinner on May 1 featured a conversation titled “Multi-Hyphenates” that involved Hollywood actor and director Jon Favreau, Hollywood director and producer J.J. Abrams and Apple executive Eddy Cue. Favreau, director of “The Jungle Book,” said he hews to the philosophy of making the old new again. “[Telling] the old stories and giving it a new look, using new technologies and new settings” is rewarding, Favreau said.

From left: Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services honorees Terry Bell, Betty Sigoloff and Dana Sigoloff come together at the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon. Photo courtesy of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services

Social services organization Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services held its fifth annual Women of Excellence Awards luncheon on April 18 at the Beverly Wilshire. The event drew more than 450 attendees.

Honorees were Terry Bell, former chairwoman of the board at Vista Del Mar, who received the Ruth Shuken Humanitarian Award; and Dana Sigoloff and her mother-in-law, Betty Sigoloff, who received the Visionary Award, in recognition of their leadership and mentorship roles within the organization.

The gathering raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Vista Del Mar programs, according to a press release.

Attendees included Wilshire Boulevard Temple Rabbi Steven Leder, who led the blessing over matzo (the event coincided with the final day of Passover).

The event co-chairs were Laurie Konheim and Laurie Harbert.

The Passover-friendly menu included salmon over spaghetti squash, avocado gazpacho and flourless chocolate cake.

Vista Del Mar, its website says, is dedicated to improving “the mental health and well-being of children and families by providing specialized and therapeutic services.”

From left: Filmmaker Yariv Mozer, Dora Nazarian Kadisha and Ido Aharoni, former consulate general of Israel in Los Angeles, attend a screening of “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue” at the Skirball Cultural Center. Photo by Orly Halevy

Dora Nazarian Kadisha held a screening of the Israeli documentary “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue” at the Skirball Cultural Center on April 27.

Based on archive material, the movie revisits Israel founder and first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s outlook and prophecy in 1968, when he was 82 years old and living in his secluded home in the desert, five years before his death. At the time, Ben-Gurion found himself outside of Israeli politics, removed from all leadership discourse, which allowed him a hindsight perspective on the Zionist enterprise. He expressed his opinion about the events going on around him and engaged in introspection, which is the focus of the film.

Yariv Mozer, director and producer of the 2016 film, traveled from Israel to present the film. A Q-and-A featuring Mozer, moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe, followed the screening. Together with the movie’s producer, Yael Perlov, Mozer said the filmmakers discovered an unknown interview with Ben-Gurion, which became the core of the documentary.

Dora Nazarian Kadisha, who heads her family’s philanthropic activity, which includes establishing the Citizens Empowerment Center in Israel, was joined at the event by her father, Iranian Jewish businessman Izak Parviz Nazarian, who founded the telecommunications company Qualcomm. Other attendees included Pouran Nazarian; Ido Aharoni, former consul general of Israel in New York; Jimmy Delshad, former mayor of Beverly Hills; TRIBE Media and Jewish Journal President David Suissa; entertainment and media entrepreneur Larry Namer; Keshet International CEO Alon Shtruzman; Hollywood producer Danny Dimbort (“The Wolf of Wall Street”); and j2 Global CEO Hemi Zucker.

David Levinson, founder and executive director of Big Sunday, speaks at the nonprofit’s gala. Photo by Ryan Torok

The second annual Big Sunday gala was held April 27 at the studio lot of Paramount Pictures and honored Zazi Pope and Kara Corwin, as well as Raun Thorp and Brian Tichenor, the founders of Tichenor and Thorp Architects.

“The hard work and kind and generous spirits of Kara, Zazi, Raun and Brian, and so many folks at Tichenor and Thorpe, is what Big Sunday is all about. They inspire me and I’m thrilled to be able to honor them,” said David Levinson, executive director and founder of Big Sunday, which originated as a Temple Israel of Hollywood Mitzvah Day in 1999.

“What we do is connect people through helping, with the idea that we all have something to give,” Levinson said, addressing the attendees from underneath an arch and a wall emblazoned with the words “Paramount Pictures.” 

Big Sunday says it has grown “from a single day of service to a year-round, independent, nondenominational, multicultural, nonprofit organization.” Big Sunday is involved in a variety of projects, including school beautifications, clothing drives and bringing Valentine’s Day cards to seniors. The organization also operates an emergency fund for people in need that provides assistance for medical bills, transportation expenses, funeral costs and more.

Upon accepting her award, Corwin said brightening seniors’ days with unexpected gifts like Valentine’s Day cards ranks among the most enjoyable Big Sunday projects.

She addressed a crowd that included philanthropist and businessman Bruce Corwin, her father-in-law.

Moving & Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas.

Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.

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