PARTIES: Saluting SF’s Sole Girls School

Cause: ICA Cristo Rey Academy
Attendees: 418 viewers
Impact: $600K

Last year in March at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, ICA Cristo Rey gala co-chairs Liz Dondero and Mary Lawson welcomed 725 guests to the hotel and raised $750K for scholarships and work-study programs enhancing education options for students of this all-girls Catholic prep school founded in 1883 by the Dominican Sisters. Knowledge of the global pandemic was spreading, yet distant in a far-off galaxy. Still, guests in the crowded ballroom elbow-bumped “hello,” while making weak jokes about hand sanitizer. But that March 10 event, at least on our calendar, was the last large-scale gathering of 2020 in San Francisco.

This year, Dondero and Lawson were determined to “March Forth” virtually on March 4, supporting the school’s low-income families, many of whom lost family members or jobs due to COVID-19. “We’d never produced a virtual event,” says Dondero. “But supporting ICA is crucial for the next generation of young women — many, the first in their family to attend college — who will break the cycle of poverty.”

Yet, the dynamic duo still raised $600K. They enlisted volunteers to deliver Weir Catering bags and Champagne to homebound guests. And they organized a program that included musician Carlos Reyes, student testimonials and three cheers from honorary chairwoman Dede Wilsey, last year’s honoree. Wilsey attended all-girls schools growing up, and has been a supporter of ICA since 1982. This year’s honorees were Michael G. McCaffery, managing director of Menlo Park’s Makena Capital Management (which has hired numerous ICA students), and 49ers General Counsel and CAO Hannah Gordon.

“ICA Cristo Rey is one of San Francisco’s best-kept secrets. And, regrettably, it’s the City’s last all-girls high school,” notes ICA trustee Paul Mohun. “But for nearly 140 years, ICA has stood on 24th Street as the City has changed many times over. ICA Cristo Rey, a little jewel of a school, continues God’s work in the Mission District.” NHG

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