Junior League Gala: Community Partnership








Triumphant in tempo, bubbling with bonhomie, the recent Junior League of Chicago’s Gala never lost sight of the international organization’s purpose: serving the ever-changing needs of the community. The 300 celebrators at the Drake Hotel heard Char Rivette of the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) speak about their partnership with the League.


Co-Chairs Skyler Harrah and Vaughn Smith with Sponsorship Chair Rachel Pustejovsky.


Guests enjoying dinner and dancing in the Gold Coast Ballroom.

Vaughn Smith and Skyler Harrah co-chaired the gala with Rachel Pustejovsky as sponsorship chair. Fundraising director and board member Vanessa Kosloski kicked off the event that raised $120,000.


Vanessa Kosloski, Martell Wilburn, Lisa Gajjar, and Blythe Newton.


Guests dancing the night away to Green Fourteen.

JLC President Delane Heldt told us a little about CAC:

“As front-line responders in Chicago to reports of child sexual abuse, CAC coordinates the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts, and mental health clinicians under one roof. Their services are aimed at reducing trauma so that children and families may begin the healing process.

“The JLC actively supports children and families through the healing process associated with sexual abuse by hosting monthly family nights. Due to budget constraints, the CAC was unable to fund family night programming, however, through the support of JLC volunteers and financial resources, we make this valuable program possible.

“Heading a volunteer organization with 13 community projects and 1300 members ranging from younger associates to actives to seasoned sustainers as well as her job as director of planning and operations for the American Medical Association seems singularly stressful, but Delane sails smoothly.

“At the League we are in a strategic planning year and instead of rolling waves that these cycles sometimes bring, I like a calm and steady lake and a look way out on the horizon. As a large organization we are definitely technologically driven, but we have to think about how to grow and maintain our membership with the human touch, and offer impactful, meaningful, and relevant projects.

“Our community projects address three categories: healthy lifestyle, education, and human trafficking. Equally important are our advocacy efforts that further support the larger community. Since we were founded in 1912 by Lucy McCormick Blair Linn, we have been all about leadership training.”


Delane Heldt (center) with Shannon Haffey (at left) and Katy Henneghan (at right).

At the AMA, Delane has as one of her assignments to work with physicians and care teams focusing on hypertension and prevention of Type II diabetes. Her expertise in this area provides those calm, steady waters to those around her.

“I have learned that you need to lean into stress, take it head on and deal with it. I look at things through the lens of risk management,” says Delane. “It is important to pick your battles, and choose what really matters. It leads to maturity and definitely makes you wiser.”

She continues: “The Junior League teaches that it’s ok to fail at something or to let something ride because it’s all a part of learning. You will be a better volunteer and a better person if you don’t fear failure as you are learning.”

We ask Delane to use her risk management lens to give advice: “Always follow through—send that follow-up note to confirm something agreed upon. It seems like extra effort but it can save volumes of re-work. You don’t want to ever go backwards.”

Great advice for gala planning, as well. And as the bottom line and happy celebrators show, it all worked!


Brooke Dean, Megan Coghlin, Sara Ingold, Stacie Selinger, Jill Bardwell, and Zoe Wilson.


Kimani Levy, Martell Wilburn, and guest.


Chris Reimann of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers starts off an exciting paddle raise.


John McKenzie Mullins, Jane Heistand, and Zachary Workman.


Raluca Mondi, Miranda Luce, Vaughn Smith, Madeline Schroeder, Elisa Revak, and Kathleen Brennan.


Bobby Bardwell, Michael Dean, and Dave Selinger.


JaCee Burnes raises her paddle.


Cara Gannon and Beth Stone Bentley.


Clay Maxfield, Miranda Luce, Hayley Rawers, and Jack Feeley.


Alex King, Caitlin Spear, Kathy Laux, Joyelle Fleming, Michael Wireko, and Rob Kreunter.


Kate Kirley, Stephanie Johnson, Corinne Heldt, Delane Heldt, and Shannon Haffey.

Photo credit: Flint Chaney Photography