JVS honored business leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist Adam Press at its annual gala October 13 at the SLS Hotel, raising more than $450,000 in net proceeds in support of the agency’s mission to help put Los Angeles back to work.
The sold-out evening including longtime friends of Press from coast to coast and JVS board members, donors and community partners. The event was entirely underwritten by Press allowing all the funds raised to go directly to serve JVS clients. A $50,000 matching gift by philanthropist and longtime JVS donor Brindell Gottlieb was not only met but exceeded.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (“Milk,” “J. Edgar, ” “Big Love”) who presented the award, lauded Press for being “what every American ought to be.”
“You work incredibly hard for yourself but you work just as hard for your neighbors,” said Black who has worked with Press through the nonprofit marriage equality organization American Foundation for Equal Rights. “And from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t matter whether you know them or not.”
Press, JVS’ Vice Treasurer and a board member since 2010, has been a staunch supporter of the agency’s HealthWorks™ program which trains people for careers as Certified Nurse Assistants, the first step on the health care career ladder.
“What JVS does every day is the hard work of actually helping many different segments of people,” said Press. “Whether it’s long-term unemployed or disabled or veterans or youth groups, JVS actually gets people jobs and there is something life-changing about that.”
Gala attendees watched JVS’ latest video “Work, Hope and Change” which highlighted the achievements of several JVS clients. Veterans First program clients Edward Chinchilla and Rommel Cruz who were featured in the video, were recognized at the gala. Also in attendance was composer/lyricist Harry Aguado who received assistance through JVS’ Disability Services and Juliet Forson, who received political asylum in the U.S. after fleeing West Africa. Forson graduated JVS’ HealthWorks™ program, is currently studying for her RN degree and hopes to eventually to become a doctor.
The evening included special remarks by former U.S. Navy Corpsman Alma Zavala, who, through JVS’ Veterans First program, helped receive her certification to become a phlebotomist. Zavala, who was nearly homeless when she came to JVS, thanked the organization for “having her back.”
“The military taught me courage under fire. I can face anything you can throw at me,” said Zavala. “What they didn’t teach me was courage after the fire, as a civilian. How do you face that? JVS did that for me and I stand before you, having a job.”
The evening was hosted by late night comedy writer David Nickoll.
Major sponsors for the gala included Dinner Committee members Roland Emmerich, Diana and Bob Friedman, Kathleen and Chip Rosenbloom, Gerrie Smith and Neal Baer, MD, Natalyia Ozhiganova and David Goldhill, Ronnie Haft, Linda and Jim Hausberg, Debbie and Rick Powell, Bryan Singer, Ann and Phil Colburn, Nancy and Jeff Paul and current JVS Board President John Goldsmith and his wife Alicia.
Honoree Adam Press studied political economy at Colorado College, spending a portion of his junior year at the London School of Economics and graduating one semester early. He worked as a legislative intern for then Senator - and future governor – Pete Wilson before earning an MBA from Columbia University. Out of college, he served as Director of Equity Investments for the Thyssen-Bornemisza Group (TBG) in Monte Carlo and later worked in the corporate finance department of PaineWebber.
Press purchased the St. John Companies, Inc. which he built into one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of labels, patient identification, medical imaging and medical records products. He ran the company as Chairman and CEO from 1992 to 2010.
After selling his business, Press had more time to devote to philanthropy and activism. A longtime friend and former JVS Los Angeles Board President Jeffrey Paul told Press about JVS, and Press, who had been looking for a local organization that worked on behalf of people in need, began to learn more about JVS and its comprehensive programs to assist job seekers. Given his background running a medical supply company, Press was most interested in HealthWorks™, JVS’ award-winning training program that prepares people for careers as licensed Certified Nurse Assistants.
Press has long been active in the fight against Proposition 8, the 2008 California state initiative that denies same-sex couples the right to marry. He serves on the Board of Directors of Freedom to Marry, the largest national organization that is dedicated to winning marriage equality in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination.
He also serves on the board of trustees at Colorado College where the university’s currently-under-construction sports complex will be called the Adam F. Press Fitness Center. Press has traveled extensively and he estimates that easily a third of his time is devoted to his philanthropic interests. He is also a guest lecturer and mentors students through the Business of Science program at UCLA.
About JVS: Since its founding in 1931, JVS has enhanced the lives of hundreds of thousands of job seekers with vital employment and career services. Each year, JVS helps nearly 30,000 people from over 30 sites around the Southland. A non-profit, non-sectarian organization, JVS works to ensure everyone has access to the help they need, including long term unemployed, veterans transitioning from the military to civilian life, at-risk, foster and probation youth and people with disabilities. Visit www.jvsla.org for more information. You can also find JVS on Facebook at JVS Los Angeles or follow us on twitter @JVSlosangeles.
Evan Henerson, Media Relations Manager
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