A Milestone and a Fabulous Evening

October 9, 2023

Congratulations to IEA on an amazing 25 years!  

I am so grateful to the many friends of IEA from the Los Angeles area and beyond who joined us for this magical evening celebrating IEA’s founding 25 years ago. As guests arrived they enjoyed cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres, listened to live jazz piano and bid on silent auction items. The jubilant crowd included current and past board members, alumni, students, parents, educators and staff all excited to celebrate this major milestone for the organization. I want to extend a big shoutout to our talented EXPLORE students who displayed impressive research projects at the reception, as well as Ziv Bard, a current Caroline D. Bradley Scholar, who came all the way from the Magic Castle in Los Angeles to amaze and delight our guests with mesmerizing magic tricks. 

The evening’s program kicked off with an enthusiastic welcome by Master of Ceremonies and IEA parent, Chris Gialanella, President and Publisher of Los Angeles Magazine, followed by a special proclamation presentation honoring IEA’s 25th anniversary from Los Angeles County Supervisor, Kathryn Barger. A special highlight of the evening for me was when the audience applauded with heartfelt gratitude as Elizabeth “Betsy” Jones, our IEA President and Co-Founder, came to the podium. 

Betsy introduced fellow IEA Co-Founder, Jim Davis and shared her memories of the beginnings of IEA. She recalled sitting at her kitchen table with Jim making plans to create a new organization to support gifted youth and all aspects of a gifted child’s educational and personal needs. Jim assisted Betsy at the podium in introducing the honorees and presenting awards. Honorees included past board chairs, including Jeff Hudson and Chris Newman, whose leadership and dedication to the organization have been instrumental in its continued success. Jim and Betsy surprised additional honorees Michael Piechowski, who was honored for his 22 years of service as a longtime Yunasa Senior Fellow, as well as IEA co-founder Jim Davis, for his important role in founding and guiding the organization in its early years. Lastly, Jim and Betsy honored the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), represented by Karen Anderson, PUSD Arts and Enrichment Coordinator, for the important role it has played in helping IEA serve hundreds of our local schoolchildren through a long history of program collaboration.

One of my favorite moments of the evening was the champagne toast to IEA’s 25th anniversary made by Board Chair, Byron Lichtenstein, an alum of the inaugural Caroline D. Bradley Scholar Class of 2002 and part of the first group of Yunasa campers. Byron shared his memories of finding IEA as a 12-year-old and how it changed his life. The crowd raised their glasses in unison to toast the amazing accomplishments of the past 25 years and to look forward to the next 25. The surprises kept coming as Jeff Hudson presented Betsy with a special proclamation from the City of Pasadena that had been signed by Pasadena mayor, Victor Gordo, and a terrific video presentation was shown featuring IEA children and community members sharing their gratitude to IEA and wishing IEA a happy 25th Anniversary.  

In addition to celebrating 25 years, the event raised funds which will support need-based tuition assistance, program implementation and community partnerships. A big thank you to current Caroline D. Bradley Scholar, Matthew Chang, and MC Chris Gialanella, who led the successful “Fund-a-Future” live auction. I am so grateful to all of our IEA friends who generously supported the event by making donations, purchasing tickets and silent auction items or volunteering. And a big thank you to the IEA team for their tireless efforts organizing the event. It was a remarkable team effort. One of the things I hear expressed most when I talk to students, parents, alumni is how lucky they feel to have found IEA because it has made such a difference in their lives. I feel lucky too, and I am very proud to be a part of this organization. Here’s to the next 25, 50, 75 years, and beyond! 

Jane Laudeman 

Development Manager 

Institute for Educational Advancement 

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