2014 Holiday Party - photo ©John Montgomery

2014 Holiday Party – photo ©John Montgomery

“BATW’s Holiday Festivities”

by Judy Jacobs and Diane LeBow

The 2015 BATW holiday party set a new standard for the organization – one that may be difficult to beat.

Planning for this event began over one year ago, when BATW Past President Diane LeBow was touring Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks with Associate member Julie Wright and Erica Schlesinger of (W)right on Communication. Bizarrely enough, the government shutdown occurred while they were in the parks, but during one of their chats, Diane asked if they’d be interested in sponsoring our next year’s holiday party. These terrific women enthusiastically grabbed the idea and began planning, which ultimately involved some of Julie’s clients: the National Park Service folks, Patina Restaurant Group and Tenaya Lodge.

Not only was the setting – the lobby of the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House – on Dec. 10, spectacular, but the food – hand-served hors d’oeuvres and tables laden with oysters, shrimp, clam chowder and Chinese dishes – was amazing. Or at least that was the word that slipped from members’ mouths in between bites.

While it seemed to be a bit difficult to pull people’s attention away from the food, drink and general merry-making, President Ginny Prior managed to call the meeting to order with an announcement that, after four years, she would be leaving the presidency of BATW to become the organization’s executive director, a newly created position. She reminded everybody to vote for officers and to renew their membership.

The next item on the agenda, the Rebecca Bruns Memorial Award, was introduced by Carol Canter, who was a close friend of Rebecca. The biennial honor – consisting of a plaque and cash award – is given to a BATW member who embodies the spirit of Rebecca Bruns, one of the organization’s founding members, who died in 1994 at the age of 44.

“She remains a muse to many of us, which is a testament to both her brilliance and her perseverance of spirit,” Carol said. Rebecca’s 95-year-old mother donated the funds for the award.

Diane LeBow and Mort Beebe - photo ©John Montgomery

Diane LeBow and Mort Beebe – photo ©John Montgomery

Diane, the Event Coordinator for the holiday meeting, presented the award to long-time BATW member, former Board member, and internationally recognized photographer and author, Morton Beebe. A graduate of the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business, Beebe began his photography career after being stationed by the Navy in Antarctica, where he worked as a public information officer, taking photographs on the side. He later covered the world for corporate clients and worked on films that included The Graduate. Beebe is a fellow of the Explorers Club.

After Morton received the Rebecca Bruns Memorial Award, the event shifted into presentations and a slide show by the party’s sponsors, who gave us updates and overviews on Yosemite, Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, as well as Tenaya Lodge and Patina Restaurant Groups’ numerous venues.

Lisa Cesaro, public relations manager for DNC Parks and Resorts, brought us up to date on lodging and events at Yosemite – both the Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel and Badger Pass are celebrating their 88th anniversary this year.

Kathrin Poetter, marketing manager of Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, told us the lodge has launched a renovation project. The lodge offers something for everyone from rooms for families to high-end luxury accommodations, she said. There’s ice-skating and horse-drawn sleigh rides in winter and white-water rafting, rock climbing and exploring the Madera wine trail in summer. The Tenaya Lodge’s pampered pet package and miles of hiking trails cater to both human and canine guests.

Susan Serpanchy, general manager of the Patina Restaurant Group that catered the event, concluded the evening’s official presentations by telling us about her company’s culinary empire, which includes, among other things, 15 full-service restaurants, four performing arts venues, three museums, the Hollywood Bowl and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

The BATW membership and BOD offer many thanks and appreciation to everyone involved in making this amazing holiday party possible:

  • Julie Wright, CEO, and Erica Schlesinger, Communications Strategist for (W)right On Communications, Inc. wrightoncomm.com
  • Dana Dierkes from National Park Service
  • Kathrin Poetter, Marketing Manager, and Pam Rudd, Associate Director of Sales

for Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon

  • Kristina Bedel, Sales & Conference Coordinator for Sequoia & Kings Canyon
  • Lisa Cesaro, PR Manager, and Michelle Hansen, Communications Coordinator, for Yosemite National Park
  • Lori Yaralian, Catering Sales Manager; Susan Serpanchy, GM; and Leah Smith for Patina Restaurant Group

And to our wonderful BATW team:

Event Coordinator: Diane LeBow; Program Chair: Carol Canter; Decorations: Erin Casvlaka and Christine Loomis; Greeter: Audrey Medina; Tech Whiz: Suzie Rodriguez

Happy New Year to all! See you next year.