Flintridge Sacred Heart’s ‘Mad Hatter’ fundraiser a tribute to late Phyllis Mozilo

More than 300 guests stepped into Wonderland March 16 to celebrate at the Mad Hatter’s Dinner Party. The gala, held in the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, was a fundraising event for Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.

The evening honored the extraordinary life of the late Phyllis Mozilo, who passed away in 2017. It was a lovely tribute to Phyllis and her dedication and generosity to Flintridge Sacred Heart as well as to the community beyond.

Sister Celeste Botello, principal of the school and Sister Carolyn McCormack, president, greeted guests arriving at the gala venue through an elaborate archway.

Guests came wearing hats of their own imagining that ran the gamut from divine to ridiculous, a fitting nod to the Mad Hatter theme.

There was an elaborate display of over 100 silent auction items to be bid on and the tables saw of lot of eager people wanting to take the bids higher and higher. There was a live auction also that saw furious bidding.

Proceeds of the evening benefited the expansion of the Mozilo Family Center for the Arts at the hilltop girls’ academy.

Co-chairing the event were Lisa Coontz and Annie Rosenberger. Also helping on the committee were Deena Willis, Michelle Escobar and FSHA’s special events manager, Brigitta Carlsson.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy has an intriguing history. In 1927, Sen. Frank P. Flint had a resort constructed in the area he was establishing as Flintridge and named it the Flintridge Hotel. Shortly afterward, it was sold to the Biltmore Hotel chain. Unfortunately, the retreat was deemed too expensive to maintain and closed shortly after the onset of the Great Depression.

At the same time of the hotel’s closing, the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose were making plans to build a convent and girls’ school on a tract of land they had purchased in Sierra Madre. After hearing about the closure of the Flintridge area hotel, the Los Angeles archdiocese contacted the Dominican Sisters and suggested the abandoned property would suit their needs. After careful consideration, the Sisters purchased the entire resort — including the nine original buildings, hotel furnishings and surrounding land — at auction for $150,000. According to legend, on Aug.15, 1931, three Dominican Sisters traveled up the hill to take possession of their new school, bringing a $5 bill, a statue of the Blessed Mother and their faith. The school opened for the first day of classes two weeks later — on Sept. 2, 1931 — with 200 students enrolled in grades 1 through 12. Today it is a college-prep high school that accepts day students but also boards students.


The California Art Club on March 29 closed its 108th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition. Prior to its closing there was a weekend of preview activities that raised $270,000 for arts educational programming.

The historic exhibition was held at the former Pasadena Museum of California Art in Pasadena.

On the opening night of the exhibit, Peter Adams, president of the honorable club and Elaine Adams, chief executive of the organization, welcomed guests. Arcadia business executive Keith W. Renken was honored for his tireless devotion to preserving and furthering California’s rich traditional fine arts heritage.

The next event for the California Art Club will be on the evening of Thursday, May 23, when it will have an opening reception for “Summer Impressions: Painting the American Landscape.” The exhibition will be on view at the Old Mill, 1120 Old Mill Road in San Marino from May 21 to Sept. 8.

Jane Napier Neely covers the area’s social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.