ADL Austin’s Torch of Liberty Awards Dinner

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Zack Jamail and Rachel Meyerson at ADL's Torch of Liberty Awards Dinner.

In an October 2015 profile of top-notch Austin party planner Courtney Caplan, she was adamant that a program at a charity event should last just 30 minutes to an hour.


Zack Jamail and Rachel Meyerson at ADL’s Torch of Liberty Awards Dinner.

And yet, the 2016 Torch of Liberty Awards Dinner for the Anti-Defamation League of Austin, which Caplan captained, was all program, from the minute the guests entered the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom till they left to sample desserts and coffee back in the lobby.

How to reconcile? Well, you make the program as compact and compelling as possible. A short welcome, a blessing, some testimonials about the anti-bigotry, anti-bulling group and, within minutes, we are into the first of two awards.

It helps that the speeches were beamed through the theatrically darkened house onto four large video screens. And there wasn’t a wasted second.

The Raymond andy Audrey Maislin Humanitarian Award went to Jo and John Ivester. She talked about the lessons learned from parents who had moved to the Mississippi Delta during the darkest hours of the civil rights movement, while he relayed what he had learned as husband, a tech leader and a civic participant.

The Torch of Liberty Award was picked up by Jeanne and Mickey Klein, better known for their arts philanthropy, but also deeply involved in the UT Elementary School and the wider campaign for social emotional learning, which has been adopted by Austin school district schools, and is showing progress decreasing violence and antisocial behavior.

All the winners and presenters gave cogent, on-message speeches, and they were careful not to name any bad actors among the presidential candidates. And all of a sudden, it was over, as Gary Zausmer, ADL board chairman, and Renee Lafair, ADL regional director, closed up shop.

Wonderful on all levels.

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