The Buzz: John Legend performs at TMH Foundation’s 32nd Golden Gala

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


Tallahassee’s finest young professionals gathered March 28 for the 4th Annual Golden A.C.E. awards. Dedicated to making Tallahassee more attractive to young professionals, the Network of Young Professionals hosts a variety of social and philanthropic activities throughout the year, culminating with the gala every spring. The Golden A.C.E. Awards honors Tallahassee’s Top 20 under 40, and recipients chosen for these awards are not only accomplished in their professions but are outstanding members of our community. This fourth class of A.C.E.’s is a shining example of the best that Tallahassee has to offer and will be the future of our community. This year’s winners are Allison North Jones, Amber R. Tynan, Cheron Davis, Garin Flowers, Jennifer Martin, Kelly Ann Fasano, Matt Ham, Michael Davino, Natalie Clayton, Sandi Poreda, Candace Munz, Chester Spellman, Erika Gaeta, Jennifer Kilinski, Kelley Olson, Melanie Quinton, Ryan Poole, Mike Akers, Tia Mitchell and Willie Williams.


Boos, hisses, laughter and seemingly endless applause filled the University Center Club Ballroom at FSU during the Leon Democratic Executive Committee’s Annual Collins-Steele Dinner. More than 200 Democratic Party faithful of all ages came out to meet candidates and hear how the party plans to rally in Florida during next election cycle.

A who’s who of Florida Democrats gathered to help statewide Party Chair Allison Tant Richard and husband Barry welcome event keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. The evening included remarks from U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Mayor Andrew Gillum, state Rep. Alan Williams and County Commissioner John Dailey. The guest list of Tallahassee politicos and distinguished guests included state Sen. Bill Montford, City Commissioner Scott Maddox and wife Sha, City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, Sheriff Mike Wood and wife Brenda, County Commissioner John Dailey and wife Ginny, state Rep. Ed Narain and County Commissioner Bill Proctor. Also on hand were Rocky Hanna, Rachel Sutz Pienta, Rebekah Rivers and daughter Rachel, Altha Manning, Al Pasini, Walt McNeil and Seann and Tabitha Frazier.

Before the evening closed, the group reflected on past service. Former Mayor John Marks, with wife Jane by his side, addressed the crowd to thank them for support of his years in office. Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell, son of the late Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, was presented with a plaque honoring his father’s decades of service in law enforcement.


It was a “beautiful” evening April 10 as one of Tallahassee’s largest and most popular hair salons, Haute Headz, celebrated its 25th anniversary. Founders Nikki Clark and Monique Wood greeted about 150 clients, employees past and present, and other well-wishers to the happy-hour event. Darcy Cavell, who joined as a co-owner five years ago and added Haute Homz décor to the business, created tables full of cheese and charcuterie for the celebration. Throughout the event, hairdressers were creating styles on models representing decades from the 1940s to the present, and local artists were showcasing their wares. They included Quincie Hamby and Courtney Glazer from neighboring boutique As You Wish, Anne Hempel, Mary Proctor, William Lamb, Kelly Petit and Alexia Axelsen. Also on hand were clients — many of them long time — including Bill Hagan, Debbie Harris, Michelle Young, Dena Strickland, Matt Turner, Cindy Sullivan, Julie and Michael Obrecht, Randy Cornelius, Josie Tamayo, Keith Bowers, Karen Frazee, Belle Peterson, Matt and Stephanie Turner, Cindy Phipps, and Ralph and Judy Simmons. Many current stylists have been at the salon for more than a decade, including Tish Fletcher (who has worked at Haute Headz for 23 years), Somkit Thompson, William Jones, Heather Standridge, Sarah Ann McClure, Adella Maxwell, Tish Fletcher, Brynn Clark and B Kaufmann. The evening also included music, sidewalk chalk for the kiddies and bubbles. Guests were invited to take home commemorative T-shirts and product samples.

Others enjoying the evening’s festivities included Alva Striplin, Leyann and Richard Greenberg, Wendy and Bruce Wiener, John and Ellen McFarland, Ann Camp, Judy Egan, Kim Smiley, Khanti Xayabouth, Lisa Springer, Melanie Donofro, Tanya and David Wilkins, Carol Morris, Tanya and Tony Weaver, Kim Baker, and Gayle and Billy Grimes.


The fourth weekend in April was a whirlwind of activity, with two of Tallahassee’s biggest and most glamorous galas held on successive nights.

The festivities kicked off Thursday night, April 23, with the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Foundation’s 32nd Golden Gala, held at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, the only venue in town big enough to hold its 1,500 guests.

With the theme “Legendary Performers” — a nod to the night’s featured entertainer, John Legend — guests were transported back to Old Hollywood with ballroom dancers, screens featuring classic movies and entertainers, and movie set decorations along the walkway to the cocktail hour, held in the arena.

One of the night’s hits was a white, upside-down room used as a photo booth. Onlookers were entertained as people tried to figure out the best ways to pose in this optical illusion.

Many hands were on deck to complete the night’s transformation, including decorating and design chair John Gandy, area coordinators Flecia Braswell and Allie VanLandingham, and a huge committee that included Mildred Brickler, Martha Guemple, Melissa Moore, Jacqueline Webster, Vickie Childers, Mary Lisa Gredler, Mayda Williams and Maria Yeadhall.

After a surf-and-turf dinner and an introduction from gala co-chairs Kelly and Laurie Dozier, Legend performed on the piano and had the audiences laughing — and in tears at one point as he talked about his grandmother, grandfather, father and mother and how they were all musicians with the local church.

Among those enjoying the evening were Florida’s first lady, Ann Scott, Jason and Whitney Fuqua, Carrie McNeill, Carley Ochs, Crawford and Teresa Atkins, JT Burnette, Winston and Yvonne Howell, Rickey Radford, Collete Podgorski, Megan Long, and Angelo and Kim Crowell.

Dressing in one’s best is de rigueur for this gala, but those looking extra-fabulous included Stacey Chick, Danielle Freeze, Juli Downs, Kim Rivers and Stephanie Derzypolski.


It was back to the salon for many women, who glammed up again on Friday night, April 24, for the Spirit of Youth Gala benefiting Boys Town North Florida. The University Center Club was transformed into a golden palace befitting the night’s theme, “A Royal Celebration.” Arriving guests were heralded with a trumpet fanfare and greeted by pages and elegant “handmaidens.” Once again, volunteer decorators teamed up to create unique décor for each table, some soaring 6 feet high, with flowers, palm fronds and lots of crowns and other regal details.

The evening’s special guests were Gov. Rick Scott and first lady Ann Scott. Other notables on hand included City Commissioner Gil Ziffer, Flecia Braswell, Suzanne and Dr. Armand Cognetta, Chris and Andrea Diamantis, Kathy and Jim Dahl, Drs. Lori and Laurence Rosenberg, Everitt and Julie Drew, Dr. Joe and Marion Camps, John and Kelly Pettit, Dr. Hank and Kelly Hutchinson, Dr. Gary and Katrina Rolle, Board Chair Paul and Cindy Sullivan, Billy and Laura Ervin, Beverly and Larry Sokolow, Jane Marks, Bill and Mary Moor, Linda Figg and Richard Drew, Mary Jayne and Kevin Sokolow, Young McConnell, Ian and Suzy Phipps, Charley and Leslie Redding, R Jai Gillum, Rhonda and Ted Strauss, Drs. Michael and Jana Forstoefel, Audra Pittman, Dr. Shane and Michele Burkhead, Brian and Kelly Ramos, Dr. Mary and Jeff Swain, Matt and Sheri Bryan, Ken Cashin and Lisa Chase, Philip and Juli Downs, and many members of the Barnard family.

Bryan Desloge, county commissioner and husband of event co-chair Beth Desloge, teamed up with Anna Johnson-Riedel to host the live auction. Guests spent the earlier part of the evening bidding on dozens of silent auction items — everything from bed pillows to salon services to large pieces of art. Entertainment was provided by the AcaBelles, FSU’s female a capella group. But the night’s most poignant moment came when Ashley Jackson — live and in a video produced by Gary Yordon — told of her sometimes rocky stay at Boys Town, and how, with the nonprofit organization’s continued support, she will be graduating from FSU this spring.


“Cheers” to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Bend who had their “Arts and Drafts” event May 11 at the Proof Brewing Facility in Railroad Square. Guests sampled specially crafted brews from Proof and paired them with delectable foods created by Taco Republik, Mobi, Cypress, Vertigo, Harry’s Seafood and 4 Rivers Smokehouse.

Lee Wagner, executive director of the nonprofit, greeted guests as they arrived at the event. Owners of Proof, Byron and Angela Burroughs, served up cold brewskies and mingled with the guests. Artists Pattie Maney, Mallory Brooks, Susan Frisbee, Ann Kozeliski and Barbara Psimas beautifully decorated pint glasses to be sold during the silent auction. After sampling a few beers and munching on treats, guests were able to tour of the brewing facility. Enjoying the live entertainment and perusing the silent auction artwork were Board Chair Todd Sumner and his wife, Dawn Krow, Keith Bowers, Katie Juckett, Kelly Ann Fasano, Ryan Leverone, Jack and Alison Kane, Mr. and Mrs. Alan Richardson, Della Smith, Barbara Harrison, Mike and Flo Schmidt, and Melissa Van Sickle


What could be a more appropriate setting for a Kentucky Derby party than beautiful environs of Havana’s WC Dover Farm? There were big hats, bowties and mint juleps galore for the charitable Derby Day at Dover, benefitting the Chelsea House, which provides services to homeless women and children. Each table was elegantly decorated by various supporting businesses and guests were invited to vote on their favorite themes. There also was a silent auction, passed hors d’oeuvres and dinner buffet as well as lawn games and opportunities to “bet” on the Run for the Roses, which was broadcast on big screens. The crowd gathered to cheer on their horses and, just over two minutes later, race favorite American Pharoah was declared the winner.

Among those appearing in their Southern-style best were Kenzie Burleigh and Steven Lohbeck, Leigha Inman, Brandon Ward, Kira Pettit, Tori Pettit, Adam Corey, John and Rachel Sweede, Ali and Brian Campbell, and Brittney and Henry Mayfield. 

Categories: Society