Last night Ken and I had the opportunity to attend a gathering of the 20/20 Club which is a winery membership club which supports sight-health organizations and meet Founder & Owner of Humanitas Wines, Judd Wallenbrock, who created Humanitas Wines to help give back to the community charitably He said that “One day the light bulb clicked on, and inspired by companies such as Paul Newman’s Own, . . . a vision was born to make wines ‘so good’ they could change the world – both in the quality of the wine & the quality of life the sale of the wines could create for those less fortunate.
The 20/20 Club is the vision of Dr. Vance Thompson, ophthalmologist and co-owner of The Good Life Wine Collective.which specializes in small-lot, handcrafted wines sourced from the Napa Valley’s finest vineyards including.Jessup Cellars, Handwritten Wines and Humanitas Wines. As part of the 20/20 Club membership launch, and mission to support sight-health, people are encouraged to join the wine club and receive 40 bottles of wine throughout the year, of which 20% of the cost of each shipment will be donated to SightLife.
SightLife CEO, Monty Montoyaalong with his wife, Tiffany, were there to greet guests and join in the wine tasting. In case you didn’t know, SightLife is our amazing local corneal eye bank and is the only non-profit global health organization solely focused on eliminating corneal blindness in the U.S. and around the world. SightLife works in partnership with surgeons and health organizations in more than 29 countries. Along with their global eye bank partners they provided nearly 17,000 corneas for transplant in 2013; over 17,000 lives changed for the better!
Some of the ZINO Society guests joining us at the wine tasting were Tina & Peter Weiss, Ina & Ira Dauberman, Katherine Kitzmiller, Ann Rogers, Ken Battie and Ram Dutt.
Joining the 20/20 Wine Club and listing SightLife as the beneficiary helps change more lives because there are over 10 million people with corneal blindness still waiting to have their sight restored. With our help, we can help them see the world through new eyes. For anyone interested in becoming a member, email email@example.com and let them know that you are joining to support SightLife.
What a great event ZINO Society hosted yesterday at Bellevue City Hall! It was the 6th annual ZINO Life & Wellness Investment Forum. Emma Landis, ZINO Dealflow Manager, did a superlative job of sourcing 15 great companies that are in just the right place for angel investing and the Coach/Mentor members successfully helped them each be the best they could be. Every single ZINOpreneur Selectpresenting member was spot on with his or her presentation. And Claire Dillow, Events & Marketing Manager and our crackerjack intern, Jillian Tyack, handled the myriad details that are required to produce such an event from registration to name tags, to programs, to ballots to food to featured libations to . . . and we even ended on time as promised.
One of my favorite parts of the program which brought tears to his eyes along with others in the audience was when Monty Montoya, CEO of SightLife, talked about how emotionally challenging it was for him when he visited China for the first time and was holding an 18 month old boy in his arms who needed corneal transplants and realized that he would not be one of the recipients of the 8 corneas they had available for transplant for the over 150 people who were waiting in line in the hopes of receiving the gift of sight. That was really one of the turning points for him in putting SightLife on an entrepreneurial path to increase the availability of corneas available for transplant.
Ken and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary on Tuesday evening. Ken made the dinner reservations and my request was to go to a restaurant that I had not seen previously so he chose Altura on Capital Hill. What a great find! Their menu provides the kind of reading that I didn’t want to put down with lots of unusual food items and fascinating pairings. Altura is known for the tasting menu, which on the night we were there included 19 items which were a series of small bites, snacks and tastes interspersed with five main plates each. Though the table next to us ordered the “full meal deal”, we elected to order conservatively with only 3 courses each but were surprised with a pre-dinner tiny cordial of rhubarb juice with a float of hazelnut oil and a sprig of tarragon plus a bouche amusee of truffled popcorn panna cotta and an after-dinner tiny espresso cup of Affogato, which was a Roman-style hot chocolate over a teaspoon of mascarpone gelato.
We were pleased to have waiter, James Chan, take care of our table, whom we fondly recalled previously had served us at Rover’s Restaurant. Altura is a small restaurant with around only 48 seats with a display cooking line and saute station. With the restaurant business in my background, I was impressed with some of the small touches such as how organized and clean the cooking line was with very shiny, neat stacks of stainless saute and sauce pans and copper sauce pans that were polished and glowing. There is a beautiful angel statue with outstretched wings which is a focal point in the dining room that had been recovered from a bombed church in France after World War II along with four others that are currently located at the Four Seasons in New York City.
Chef Nathan Lockwood has focused his Italian inspired menu on “wild foraged products, pristine Puget Sound seafood and locally raised heirloom meats and vegetables.” according to the website. But when I read to expect to spend two to three hours enjoying 10-15 courses, I decided to order fewer courses which was still plenty since we left with a doggie bag with most of my Potato Gnocchi leftover. For me the over the top item in flavor profile was the Sweet Corn Soup which included an artistic arrangement in the bottom of the oversize rim soup bowl with tiny amounts of chili roasted crab, smoked mussels, garlic scapes and orange nasturtium petals with a miniscule portion of velvety smooth bright yellow corn soup ladled over. It was truly a flavor masterpiece!
We both look forward to returning to Altura since there are many more fascinating menu items to taste.
Friday evening was the opening night of Pacific Northwest Ballet’sGiselle with many opportunities to celebrate. PNB Principal Dancer, Kaori Nakamura was dancing her last opening night and D. David Brown, was attending his last opening night as PNB Executive Director, prior to retirement. The pre-performance dinner was at the Ruin’s and as everyone arrived they were each given a necklace on a pale pink ribbon with a photo of D. David Brown which had been photo-shopped to include a tutu, wings, a magic wand, glitter, jewels and a tiara. Let me explain why later in this blog posting.
And now about David . . . Fourteen years ago, I was incoming Chairman of the PNB Board slated to take the place of current PNB Chairman of the Board, Dan Heidt, and we were thrilled to hire D. David Brown as our new Executive Director. We had been limping along for the last few years with revolving-door Executive Directors, each of whom that didn’t work out for various reasons. David had led the Boston Ballet as Executive for several years following his own dance career as a principal dancer at Boston Ballet. He was known in the ballet world as being the best administrator. So Dan and I along with other members of the Search Committee including Susan Brotman and Bob Braun were positively giddy when we were successful in hiring David for PNB.
At our request, as soon as humanly possible, David moved to Seattle, leaving behind his wife, Elaine Bauer Brown, and their two dachshunds to pack up their home and follow. David arrived in Seattle with no household goods or an automobile since everything was still in Boston. We had a very small budget for the transition, so I loaned David bedding, a quilt and my bright orange-red Maserati Biturbo convertible for him to use in the interim. It has always been a good story to re-tell that his “company car” at PNB was a Maserati convertible!
But more seriously, what a great pleasure it has been for me to have had the opportunity to work with a staff leader of David’s expertise, patience and finesse. Once David arrived at PNB, it quickly became apparent to me that in my past Board experience, we had never had an Executive Director in his league. Because of David’s background as a dancer himself, he understood the challenges and tensions that accompany the conflicting goals of desire for artistic innovation and excellence and achieving a balanced budget; conflicting goals which have never been an easy task for Artistic and Executive Directors to navigate.
With his dual background, he was always willing to look for new ways to make things work. During the five years while I was board chair, David and I went through some very difficult and financially challenging times together as we were simultaneously fundraising to build McCaw Hall and the new PNB Eastside School, The Francia Russell Center. At the same time we lost one-third of our subscribers during the 18 months when we had to perform in the Seattle Center Arena, (best known as a hockey rink) during the interim between the closing of the old Opera House and the opening of McCaw Hall. But with David’s calm, problem-solving management style, we managed to come through the eye of the hurricane successfully.
And David could not have been more supportive and helpful as we transitioned through the retirement of our revered, long-time Artistic Directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, and the all-encompassing, time-consuming and complex selection process that we designed to choose new Artistic Director, Peter Boal.
Now back to the story about the necklace from earlier in this post. David is a true master of Powerpoint, Through Powerpoint, David was able to transform the PNB Strategic Plan into something that could be visually measured and understood quickly by the Board and Staff in a way that I have not seen done better in any other of the many boards on which I have served over the years. It was all about measuring our performance with understandable red, yellow and green stoplight icons and simple bar and line graphs. David often referred to himself as the Powerpoint Fairy, so the necklaces were in honor of David’sPowerpoint prowess.
I was so pleased that I was invited to toast David backstage after the performance along with Kelly Tweeddale of Seattle Opera and other past board chairs, Peter Horvitz and Carl Behnke. I personally consider David a lifetime friend and look forward to playing a few more rounds of golf than we have managed to fit in the past 14 years. It has been an honor to work with David! I send him big congratulations and wish him Godspeed!
David’s Career Stats:
– Two Co-Artistic Directors at the end of their directing careers
– One Artistic Director at the beginning of his
– 4 Board Chairs and 4 Board Presidents
– 139 Finance Committee Meetings
– 126 budget drafts
– 84 opening nights
– 18 tours
– 2 Capital Campaigns in two years: One for McCaw Hall and one for the Francia Russell Center
Yesterday Ken and I attended the Seattle Symphony Musical Legacy Society luncheon at Benaroya Hall. As always it is inspiring to connect with people who care about music and about making it accessible to all. The program focused on a young high school composer, Will Langlie-Miletich, who had written a piece for a string quartet and… Continue Reading