Dinner to honor three contributing women

Three women who have contributed greatly in various areas of Laguna Beach life will be honored Oct. 18 by the Laguna Beach branch of the American Assn. of University Women.

"Women Making Magic in Our Community" is the theme of the group's 12th annual Leadership Dinner honoring Jodie Gates for her contributions in the Arts, Barbara Norton in Education and Environmentalism, and Johanna Felder in Community Activism.

Hosted by Pat Kollenda, the event features musical entertainment, a magician, and a new "Not-So-Silent Auction," according to Jahn Levitt, chairwoman of the event.

"The auction is our chance to support those local merchants who support the work of AAUW, which includes helping girls and women achieve their full potential by empowering them through education," Levitt said in a press statement.

Dancer and choreographer Gates has created ballets for dance companies across the globe for two decades, and is the founder and artistic director of the Laguna Dance Festival. She is also a professor of dance at UC Irvine and teaches master classes for various professional dance companies.

Norton, a longtime Laguna Beach resident, decided to become a park ranger after raising her family. In 1999 she was hired as an Orange County Park Ranger at the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, and is credited with helping to turn the park into one of the "crown jewels" of the county park system. In 2007, she was promoted to senior ranger and now is in charge of programs, staff and volunteers for the 7,000-acre wilderness park as well as the Nix Nature Center.

Felder, a longtime member of the board of trustees of Laguna Art Museum, was a key player in undoing a merger of the museum with the Orange County Museum of Art in 1996. Her community service activities include being a member of the board of directors of Laguna Greenbelt; a founding member of the Laguna Canyon Conservancy; board of directors of the Laguna Canyon Foundation; board of directors, president and Charm House Chairwoman for Village Laguna; as well as working with the city's HIV Advisory Committee, the Friendship Shelter, AAUW, the Coalition of Neighborhood Assns. and the Newport Harbor Art Museum.

The dinner will begin with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct.18 at Tivoli Too, 777 Laguna Canyon Road. Dinner and the program start at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $65 per person. No tickets will be sold at the door. To download a reservation form, visit://aauw-lagunabeach.org/2docs/2010-LD-Flyer.pdf. For more information, contact Levitt at jahnml@yahoo.com.

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