The Buzz: Dress for Success Tallahassee’s Moulin Rouge-style Ladies Night

Welcome to The Buzz, Tallahassee Magazine’s column created to share who’s where and what they’re doing. While we try to flit around with all of Tallahassee’s social butterflies, the Buzz can’t be everywhere. Send the skinny on your next soiree to


During a week of festivities celebrating the inauguration of Elmira Mangum as president of Florida A&M University, several hundred people attended an evening wine and cheese reception on Oct. 1 at the Black Archives Research Center and Museum. Filled with the rich history, both beautiful and some disturbing, of African-Americans, it is a wealth of information. On this evening, people toured the exhibits while the FAMU Jazz ensemble played on.

The second floor held a gorgeous display of fresh fruits and cheeses courtesy of the FAMU College of Agriculture and Food Science. The college also served some of its delicious wines made from grapes grown right here in Tallahassee.

Three major donations were then presented to Mangum during the evening’s program. Representing the Capital Women’s Network, Beth Tedio presented a $30,000 check to fund an endowment scholarship for women returning to their education. The second two were from families who supported FAMU. The evening’s total was almost $500,000.


The nonprofit Dress for Success Tallahassee held its first Moulin Rouge-style Ladies Night fundraiser in October at the Mint Lounge. Dozens of women dressed in their heels and Little Black Dresses while enjoying champagne and caprese sticks served up by handsome guys who seemed to have left their shirts at the gym.

In addition to music and an impromptu “Wobble” dance, the ladies were entertained by performances from Florida State University’s Acabelles, a singing group who reprised their a capella performance of Lorde’s “Royals” that made them a bit of an Internet sensation several months ago. There was also vavoom performance by Queen of Hearts Fitness Studio to “All That Jazz” from the musical “Chicago.”

The nonprofit’s leaders and event committee were decked out in red dresses, including co-chairs Alison Kinney and Virginia Bell, Wendy Hedrick, Mary Fran Andree and Kay Meyer.

Also on hand to enjoy the evening were TaMaryn Martin, Dress for Success program manager Carolyne Jones, Catie Cooper, Christine Napier, sisters Erin and Melissa VanSickle, Audrey Romberg, Ana Marty, Tracy Morales, Marcia Warfel, Heather Thomas, Lynn Solomon, Chauncey Rackley, Natasha Gilliam and Priscilla Tharpe.


One of the most successful and eagerly anticipated social events of the spring is the annual gala to support Boys Town in Tallahassee. So it should be no surprise to anyone that the soiree to give a preview of this year’s event, and give volunteers a chance to sign up for committees, would make a splash too. With the gala theme of “A Royal Celebration,” the 5th Avenue Tap Room got an upgrade with décor that included red roses, candles and faux chandeliers, as well as large portraits of young Boys Town residents resplendent in regal attire. Gala co-chairs Beth Desloge and Laura Ervin were introduced by Boy’s Town development director Dena Strickland, who told the group the goal was for the event to raise $300,000 for the nonprofit.

Strickland spoke to the group about the “impossible” circumstances some of the Boys Town youth face, which was followed by a rendition of “Impossible” from the play “Cinderella” by Young Actor’s Theatre performers Eva Rosenwig and Brianna Riley. The group was also entertained by a fashion show, featuring a troupe of beautiful models provided by Marsha Doll wearing special-occasion dresses from Narcissus in rich and regal colors. Noshes were provided by several local restaurants, represented by Coosh Willis (Coosh’s Bayou Rouge) and Elizabeth Gwynn (Cypress).

Volunteers and other supporters who attended included Melissa Ooten, Elizabeth Ekk, Marion Camps, Stephanie and Tim Jansen, Ken and Michelle Bender, Glenda Cato, Drew Westling, Paul Sullivan, Marshall Gibbs, Annie and Katelin Kelley, Gannon Hunt, Scott and Sha Maddox, Kim Crowell, Tracey Grant, Angie Sipple, Gina Proctor, Audra Pittman, Juli Downs, Monique Wood and Mary Jayne Sokolow.

The gala is set for April 24 at the University Center Club.


On a beautiful evening Oct. 25, the brews were flowing — in 3-ounce tastes — during the Sunrise Rotary Club’s always-popular, ever-growing, eighth annual Brewfest fundraiser. The sold-out event attracted a record crowd of 2,500, who sampled more than 200 porters, stouts, IPAs, lagers, ales, ciders and more from over 40 breweries.

It would probably be shorter to list those not at Brewfest, but a few of those on site at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum as volunteers, quaffers and designated drivers were former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Aaron Deslatte, Daryl Green, Sam and Justin Varn, Pamela Aveling, William Dickerson, Randy and Miriam Nicklaus, along with son Aubrey, Melanie Lee, Melanie Quinton, Larry DiPietro and Liz Eggert Hirst.

In addition to a Low Country Boil, the night’s 350 VIPs got the extra treat of tasting beers from local “companies” — actually home brewers. Fred Tedio was pouring samples of Crooked River Milk Stout from his TDO Brewing Company, while young couple Chris and Kathy Bass had an oatmeal coffee stout on tap from their Big Bass Brewing Company. VIPs Sherrie and Brian Clark said they were partial to TNT’s “Fuzzy Duck” brew.


To help support future physicians who will serve Tallahassee and the surrounding areas, the Florida State University College of Medicine held a Wine Tasting Gala at The Fresh Market to raise money for med student scholarships. The average debt for medical school students is $145,000 and, because many students come from economically challenged backgrounds and will be practicing in the lower-paid area of primary care, lessening the debt burden on these new young doctors is particularly important.

Among those attending the event, held Oct. 23, were Drs. Stephanie and Matt Lee, Wilson and Jill Carraway, Grace Dansby, Keith and Becky McNeil, Dr. Wayne and Zan Batchelor, Julie Montanaro, Dr. Joseph and Marion Camps, Dr. Shelby Blank, Dr. James and Elaine Geissinger, Warren and Faith Jones, Paula and Tim Fortunas, Dr. Ron and Sally Hartsfield, Frank Langston, Dr. Norman Thagard, Dr. Alma Littles, Dr. Winston and Denise Ortiz and Drs. Michael and Jana Forsthoefel.


After the workday was over on Oct. 9, a lucky few headed over to The Old Willis Dairy Farm, now owned, operated and loved by Frank and Peper Willis. The night was full of promise, twinkling lights and clinking wine glasses. On the menu? Truly gourmet food, an impeccable selection of wines from around the globe and, perhaps most importantly, conversation circling around local history and restoration. Guests who attended simply expecting a delicious meal were pleasantly surprised.

The celebration was twofold: It was held in honor of “Hunter’s Moon,” an American Indian folklore event marking the beginning of the cold-weather season, and to raise money and awareness for the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. Chef Chris Clark, proprietor of Avenue Eat & Drink as well as the newly opened Zin and Sin, served up a Florida-centric feast of blue crab cakes, lobster mac and cheese, lobster, mint and heirloom tomato salad, boneless short ribs and deliciously tart key lime pie. Drew McLeod, who was accompanied by wife Kim McLeod, narrated the meal.

Among those attending were Ginny Chandler, Bill Raynor, Staci and Joe Chick, Karyn and Mark Tarmey, Michael and Jana Forsthoefel, and Chay Baxley and Sean Hughes.


First Commerce Credit Union hosted its second annual Taste of Bourbon, Bacon & Beer event Oct. 29 at Madison Social in CollegeTown. More than 125 people attended the event, which raised nearly $2,500 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend as part of First Commerce’s latest Champions for Community campaign. Guests dined on flights of four types of bacon (Candied Bacon, Duck Bacon, Thick Cut with a Mustard Whip, and Nueske’s Butcher Bacon with Rum n’ Coke BBQ and Apple Slaw) and a choice of a sample of four craft beers or four bourbons. In total, First Commerce’s fall campaign raised more $10,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. First Commerce recently opened its 10th location just a few doors down from Madison Social in CollegeTown.

Attendees included First Commerce CEO Cecilia Homison and her husband, Lee; Mike Gomez, John and Cassandra Grayson, John and Amanda Padgett, Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Louis Garcia and his wife, Courtenay, Park Broome, Sarah Rumph, MaryRose Sirianni, Errol Powell, Matt and Lindsay Thompson, and Brian Rowland. An all-star trio of celebrity waiters — Rep. Alan Williams, City Commissioner Gil Ziffer and Mayor John Marks — collected tips for Big Brothers Big Sisters.


First Commerce Credit Union also hosted a VIP meet-and-greet with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak before his question-and-answer session during the Power Forward speaker series event. Affectionately referred to as “The Woz,” Wozniak graciously met and posed for pictures with attendees. He was personable and struck up several conversations with those who have long been fans of Apple products.

Representing First Commerce was CEO Cecilia Homison and Dean Caryn Beck-Dudley was there on behalf of Florida State University’s College of Business, which cosponsored Wozinak’s appearance. Among the VIPs who attended were Claude Walker, Dr. Russ and Cheryl Rainey, Chuck Urban, Kim Rivers, J.T. Burnette, Steve Evans and County Commissioner Bryan Desloge.


Guests dined in just about every room of Nancy Leikauf and Steve Bousquet’s house Nov. 10 during their annual fall soup and salad supper. About 50 friends attended the potluck, which they have been hosting annually since 2006. As he has every year since the party started, newlywed Sheldon Gusky once again brought a giant copper pot of chicken matzo ball soup. He and his bride, Kristin, were married just 15 days earlier. Other attendees (and their offerings) included Kathy Whitehead (fall minestrone), Lori and Andy Grayson (Tuscan onion), Mary Ellen Klas and John Kennedy (wild rice and mushroom) and Rochelle Koff Ward and Philip Ward (mushroom barley).

Also warming their tummies on a cool evening were Matt and Michelle Ubben, Debbie Bergstrom and Fred Breeze, Dick and Lucy Morgan, Dale Brill, Tia Mitchell and Troy Kinsey.

Categories: Society