Crystal Cove Conservancy Raises $710,000 for Education Programs During 2023 Soirée

On Saturday, October 7, Crystal Cove Conservancy (The Conservancy) welcomed over 250 guests and sponsors on the blufftop of Crystal Cove State Park’s Pelican Point for the 21st Annual Soirée. The annual event, with Title Sponsor, Bank of America, raised a record $710,000 in support of The Conservancy’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs, which bring more than 10,000 students to Crystal Cove each year.

As the sun set on the blufftop, guests enjoyed a cocktail reception, al fresco dinner, a lively auction that helped raise funds for The Conservancy’s extensive education programs, and an after-party with music and entertainment from electric violinist Amy Serrano and DJ Marco providing a soundtrack to a magical evening under the stars. The evening also included remarks from special guests, including California State Parks Director Armando Quintero and Bank of America’s Senior Vice President Shari Battle.

Crystal Cove Conservancy Board of Directors

Crystal Cove Conservancy President & CEO Kate Wheeler surprised guests when she announced the last tranche of funding had been secured for the North Beach Cottage Restoration Project, ensuring the restoration of the 17 North Beach Cottages and allowing the first eight cottage rental units to be available for public reservation in the coming weeks.

“In 1995, no one knew what would become of Crystal Cove, the cottages, or the Historic District. Today we do,” said Wheeler. “They will all be restored. They will all be reopened. On Thursday, we closed a deal that will have Bank of America invest more than $10M in the project, providing the final tranche of funding needed.”

Wheeler continued with a champagne toast to celebrate the remarkable accomplishment and the impact it will have on The Conservancy’s education programs providing both earned revenue and new facilities for those programs.

Guests bidding during live auction and fund-a-need in support of Conservancy education programs

“Our students learn by working alongside scientists, engineers, and researchers gathering data on real ecological restoration and research projects. They’re learning about the water cycle and they can prove it because their shoes get wet and their clothes get muddy,” Wheeler said. “Our STEM education programs really do one essential thing, one kid at a time, in one park at a time – they allow students to see themselves as an essential part of the solution.”

Generous sponsors for the event included Bank of America as the Title Sponsor; Eva and Doug Le Bon; Marisla Foundation; Michael and Tricia Berns; Bonnie Gregory; Stacy Schlinger and the Schlinger Family Foundation, Karen and Alan Bedekar, Christine L. Carr LoveLight; Laura Davick, the founder of Crystal Cove Conservancy; Lucy Donahue; the Hexberg Family Foundation; Mara and Keith Murray; Stephanie Quesada and Vince Jackson; Teddie Ray; Wendy and Fred Salter; Michael and Sally Schreter; Karen and Eric Steen; Cyd and Steve Swerdlow; Shelley Thunen; Monette and Steve Zotovich; Archarios Foundation in Honor of Madeline Swinden; Jennifer Steele and Jay Bauer; Glenn Bozarth; Meriam Braselle; the Cheng Family; the Carol and James Collins Foundation; the Crevier Family Foundation; Michelle and Tim Dean; Barbara Hamkalo; Jenny and Will O’Neill;  Doniel and Jerry Sutton; Sheets, Paquette & Wu Dental Practice; Spectra Company; Whittier Trust; Michelle and Claude Yacoel; and several anonymous supporters.

This event was also generously supported by Brian Dobbin, Inc., Buchanan Brand + Design, Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing Sportfishing, Firebrand Media, LLC, Foley Family Wines, Fork, Knife and Spoon Catering, Pacific Pearl Café, The Resort at Pelican Hill, The Ranch at Laguna Beach, Zinc Café, zpizza, and Zotovich Vineyards and Winery.

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