Austin Under 40 Awards winners are solid gold

We always cheer the Austin Under 40 Awards ceremony, not just because it benefits two worthy causes, YWA Foundation and the Austin Sunshine Camps, but also because so many rising social stars end up among the winners.

Toya Bell picks up the Austin Under 40 Award for Mentor of the Year. Contributed by Lauryn Vaughan of Not Purple Creative

Don’t worry about the future; these leaders will be in charge.

Saturday’s party at the JW Marriott grossed $280,000. The net amount for the charities has not yet been announced.

BENEFITS: Austin’s Sunshine Camps shine.

2018 AUSTIN UNDER 40 AWARD WINNERS

Civics, Government and Public Affairs: Virginia A. Cumberbatch

Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations: Kristie Gonzales

Medicine and Healthcare: David Shackelford

Nonprofit Service: Kandace Vallejo

Youth & Education: Ashley Alaniz-Moyer

Financial and Insurance: Lindsey Leaverton

Innovation and Startup: Stephanie Hansen

Real Estate: Emily Chenevert

Legal: Sujata Ajmera

Technology: Tricia Katz

Architecture, Engineering and Construction: Ada Corral

Arts and Entertainment: David Messier

Culinary Arts, Events and Hospitality: C.K. Chin

Energy, Mobility and Transportation: Kelly Daniel

Sports, Wellness and Fitness: Marc Tucci

Mentor of the Year: Toya Bell

Austinite of the Year: Sujata Ajmera

Austin readers investigate the Molly Awards for the Texas Observer

We live in a golden age of investigative journalism.

Not just the renaissance of political reporting at the federal level. But in-depth articles and investigative packages cascading from newspapers such as the American-Statesman, as well as other local, regional and national media.

Jack Keyes and Syeda Hasan at the Molly Awards for the Texas Observer. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

THE LATEST: Texas day care operator’s lies exposed in child death trial.

The Molly Awards celebrate the some of the best work in this renewed civic era. At the same time, the semi-dressy affair at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin raises money for the nonprofit Texas Observer. Much of the attention every year goes to late namesake Molly Ivins, who edited the Observer before moving on to wider prominence at the New York TimesDallas Times Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, syndicated columns and brainy, brawling books on politics.

The fact that an unabashedly liberal publication gives out these awards obscures the fact that the winning stories show no clear partisan or ideological favoritism. Abuse of power is abuse of power.

The top prize, for instance, went to Michael Grabell and Howard Berkes (ProPublica/NPR/The New Yorker) for reporting on the exploitation and abuse of undocumented workers in the chicken industry.

Honorable mentions were accorded Seth Freed Wessler (The Investigative Fund, The New York Times Magazine) for exposing a “floating Guantánamos” system of extrajudicial detention of fishermen by the U.S. Coast Guard way outside the usual patrol zones; and Nina Martin, Renee Montagne, Adriana Gallardo, Annie Waldman and Katherine Ellison (ProPublica/NPR) for their “Lost Mothers” series on the death rates of pregnant women in the U.S.

Now, once ceremonial beer steins are distributed, it’s time for red meat. This year’s frank, funny and at times outrageous speaker was Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for The Nation and a political contributor on CNN. She pulled no punches going after President Donald Trump and crew.

A nattily dressed young man in the elevator afterwards: “Oh, that was soooo nonpartisan!”

Me: “Agreed. But the awards really are. Corruption is corruption, no matter who commits it. Right?”

Al Gore picks up Lady Bird Award from LBJ Foundation

On April 24, the Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb handed over a blue globe resting in bronze hands to former Vice-President Al Gore as part of the 2018 Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award ceremony in New York City.

Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson honor Al Gore with the 2018 Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award. Contributed by LBJ Foundation

Also at the Metropolitan Club that evening, Mark K. Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, conducted an open conversation with Gore, one of the world’s leading activists on the subject of global warming.

The foundation created the award to keep alive the late first lady’s commitment to environmental awareness.

RELATED: Oral history rekindles Lady Bird Johnson’s voice.

“As Lady Bird did in the 20th Century, Al Gore’s actions acknowledge this is far bigger than one political philosophy but about what affects and unites us all,” said Larry Temple, chairman of the LBJ Foundation. “He is leading the conservation movement and elevating the public’s consciousness on the importance of acting to solve the climate crisis.”

 

See who in Austin are AU40 Awards finalists

One of Austin’s most coveted honors, the Austin Under 40 Awards, are back, and we’ve got the names of the 2018 finalists.

Gordon Moore and Heather McKissick at the 2014 Austin Under 40 Awards. Contributed by Jonathan Garza

The AU40 Awards are a joint effort of two veteran volunteer groups, Young Women’s Alliance and the Young Men’s Business League. They honor notable community figures and rising stars in 16 career fields.

RELATED: Matt Curtis sings the praises of the AU40 Awards.

The 2018 AU40 Gala will be held at the JW Marriott on May 19. The money raised benefits the YWA Foundation and the Austin Sunshine Camps.

RELATED: Sunshine Camps shine.

I suspect that some of these finalists will be running our city some day.

2018 AU40 AWARDS FINALISTS

Architecture, and Design

Ada Corral

Adam Nyer

Matthew Hoglund

Megan Lasch

Patrice Rios

Arts, Media and Entertainment

Cassandra King Polidori

David Messier

Livia Pope

Taylor Ellison

Terry Pierre-Mitchell

Civics, Government and Public Affairs

Dana Harris

David Edmonson

Jo Cassandra Cuevas

Virginia Cumberbatch

Yvette Ruiz

Culinary Arts, Events and Hospitality

C.K. Chin

Cassie LaMere

Fallon Gaskamp-Allison

John Antonelli

Kendall Antonelli

Energy, Mobility and Transportation

Jennifer Duthie

Kelly Daniel

Mica Vehik

Phillip Lay

Suzanne King

Innovation and Start-up

Adam Lyons

Caroline Freedman

R.C. Rondero de Mosier

Stephanie Hansen

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Financial and Insurance Services

Donald Park

Eric Hare

Jeff Socha

Kerri Swope

Lindsey Leaverton

Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations

BA Snyder

Hema Muller

Jamie Chandlee

Jessica Scanlon

Kristie Gonzales

Legal

Adam Nagorski

Courtney Dickey

Jaren Lindauer

Lauren Schoenbaum

Sujata Ajmera

Medicine and Healthcare

David Shackelford

John Fought

Richard Bottner

Sarah Saxon

Vinit Varu MD

Nonprofit Service

Derrick Lesnau

Kandace Vallejo

Mary Van Haneghan

Meme Styles

Raquel Valdez

Real Estate

Blair Nelson

Emily Chenevert

Laura Brady

Lizzy Jarvis

Wade Giles

Sports, Wellness and Fitness

Alex Earle

Carly Pollack

Chi Chi Randolph

Marc Tucci

Robin Emmerich

Technology

Joah Spearman

Michael Manning

Sara Ines-Calderon

Shruti Anand

Tricia Katz

Youth and Education

Anneliese Tanner

Ashley Alaniz-Moyer

Jennifer Garcia

Lucas Janda

Sean Duffy

Mentor of the Year

Fayruz Benyousef

Kali’ Rourke

Laura Sovine

Matt Swinney

Toya Bell

 

Austin and DC parties that trilled and thrilled this past week

KMFA Classical 89.5, the Texas Book Festival and the LBJ Foundation showed us all how to do good and have a good time this past week.

Dianne Donovan and TresMusicos at Sound Bites for KMFA. Contributed by Katrina Barber

Sound Bites: KMFA at 50

When you throw your first gala 50 years into your history, you really want it to sing. The good folks behind Sound Bites for KMFA Classical 89.5 made it trill. First, they picked a music-themed venue, Hotel Van Zandt, then they placed musicians at key spots. Even the dinner dishes came with (stretched) musical analogies. Among my favorite touches was a mock-up of longtime “Voice of KMFA,” the late Leonard Masters, in his studio. The man looks like he was born to be a classical DJ.

The fundraising duties were kept classy and relatively short. We were hoping for a hint at bigger news, but none was forthcoming by the time I left, which, alas, was also before additional performances from some of my favorite local artists. But I did have time to relish one of the best things about Austin society: A long, far-ranging chat with somebody who knows our city well, cares about its future and does everything she can to make good things happen. In this case, it was Sharon Watkins, owner of Chez Zee, and a constant friend of the arts her entire life.

Lois Kim and Min Jin Lee on the opening night gala at the Texas Book Festival. Bob Daemmrich

First Edition Literary Gala

Before I go into detail about this benefit for the Texas Book Festival, always one of the high points in the Austin social season, I must relate a sweet case of mistaken identity. It is the custom of the First Edition Literary Gala to place one of the year’s honored festival authors at each table of 10 guests. I was ushered to Table 2 as a reporter, but the table hosts from Dallas assumed I was “their author.” These incredibly gracious people treated me like royalty and it wasn’t until very late in the evening that I realized their misapprehension. Too late to disappoint them with the truth, that they spent dinner with a mere workaday writer whose second book is coming out in December.

On the dais, Dallas journalist and author Skip Hollandsworth (Texas Monthly, “The Midnight Assassin”) managed to be genuinely funny while retaining his dignity, a hard balancing act. The author-speakers, including Min Jin LeeAttica Locke and Kevin Young, were not only incredibly distinguished in their own rights, they were more charismatic than any writer has a right to be. I can’t wait to read Locke’s “Bluebird, Bluebird,” set along Highway 59 in East Texas.

Two days later, at the actual festival in the Capitol district, I mostly haunted the tables of the small presses that don’t receive much attention, and made a neat discovery of a small book about the drug wars by Texas senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke with Susie Byrd, “Dealing Death and Drugs” (El Paso-based Cinco Puntos Press). Plainly written in a powerful style.

Lynda Johnson Robb, Luci Baines Johnson and David Rubenstein at LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award dinner. Contributed

LBJ Foundation Award

We were not free to jet up to Washington, D.C., for this one, but the Austin-based LBJ Foundation handed David Rubenstein its LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award during a dinner at the National Archives Museum. Rubenstein was honored for helping to preserve the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Declaration of Independence and other treasures. How’s that for a list of accomplishments?

“David Rubenstein has distinguished himself as one of the most grateful and generous Americans of our generation,” said Larry Temple, chairman of the LBJ Foundation. “He embodies the beliefs that President Johnson held dear — that our mission in public service is to serve man and provide opportunity to all.”

Among the dinner guests were Lynda Johnson Robb, Luci Baines Johnson, Amy Barbee, Ben Barnes, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Joaquin Castro.