Education, Entertainment, and Advocacy

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The Educational Theatre Foundation’s fifth annual Broadway Back to School event at The Edison Ballroom.

The Educational Theatre Foundation’s fifth annual Broadway Back to School event, benefitting school theatre education programs for schools in need, was held Sunday, September 22, 2019 and packed the house at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

Hosted by Laura Benanti, Broadway Back to School was an inspiring evening of show-stopping performances celebrating the theatre arts—with Broadway stars, John Cariani, Gavin Creel, J. Harrison Ghee as Crystal Demure, Aaron Rhyne, Evan Ruggerio, Carla Stickler, Alex Stone, and more, recognizing their theatre teachers, and sharing the stage with current students from the International Thespian Society.

Chita Rivera and Julie Cohen Theobald.

Patti Lupone did the honors of recognizing Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, creators of Hairspray, with the Broadway Back to School Award for their work supporting access and excellence in school theatre.

Among the highlights was the surprise announcement from Bob Wenkel and Tom Viola of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, who had just been presented the won the Standing Ovation Award by Chita Rivera, of an additional donation of $10,000 from the proceeds of the BC/EFA flea market being donated to ETF in addition to their standing commitment to New Thespian Troupe Charter Grants for Title 1 schools.

Harvey Zirofsky, Dr. Sharon Dunn, Freddie Gershon, and Myrna Gershon.
Scott Wittman, Julie Cohen Theobald, and Marc Shaiman.
Scott Wittman, Patti LuPone, and Marc Shaiman.
Tom Viola and Robert E. Wankel.
Chita Rivera.
Laura Benanti and Gavin Creel.
Evan Ruggiero.
Carla Stickler.
Crystal Demure and Laura Benanti.
Thespian All-Star Company and Creative and Technical Staff.

Distinguished members of the Bryant University community gathered at Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, RI, on Friday, Sept. 27 to celebrate the University’s historic capital campaign, Expanding the World of Opportunity: The Campaign for Bryant’s Bold Future. The successful campaign surpassed its original goal of $75 million and increased stretch goal of $100 million to reach $106 million, with three months remaining before the campaign officially concludes at the end the year.

Rosecliff Mansion Newport RI.

Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley and Women’s Summit Director Kati Machtley, Vice President of University Advancement David Wegrzyn ‘86, and Campaign Co-Chairs William J. Conaty ’67 (Chair of the Bryant University Board of Trustees, retired GE Senior Vice President of Corporate Human Resources, and President of Conaty Consulting, LLC) and Michael E. Fisher ‘67 (past chair of the Bryant University Board of Trustees and retired Managing Director, Barclay’s Global Investors) thanked the many trustees, alumni, donors, volunteers, and faculty whose dedicated efforts and generosity have led to this important milestone in Bryant’s history.

“The generous support of nearly 24,000 alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, and friends has made Expanding the World of Opportunity: The Campaign for Bryant’s Bold Future the most transformational philanthropic effort in Bryant’s history,” President Machtley said. “Tomorrow will belong to the leaders of character who pass through Bryant’s Archway as proud Bryant graduates. And it is because of you that we celebrate tonight.”

William Conaty and Michael Fisher.

“It is exciting to realize that, even with all of these spectacular accomplishments, we are certain that Bryant’s best days are still ahead. Our message tonight, to everyone in this room is: Thank you,” said Conaty. “Together, we’ve accomplished something very special. On behalf of generations of future students who will, one day, arrive at Bryant, inspired to excel, thank you.”

For details about Bryant’s University’s Historic Capital Campaign and its impact on the lives of students, visit

David and Linda Wegrzyn, with Roger Begin.
Ronald and Kati Machtley.
L. to r.: Nancy and Mark Deviney; Jeffrey and Ileen Doppelt.
H. James and Margaret Magee, with Andrew and Lucy Corrado.
Kristian Moor and Edwin Santos.
David and Jessica Platt.
Ronald Machtley, with William and Sue Conaty.
George and Carol Bello.

On September 14th, the 25th annual NDSS Buddy Walk in NYC gathered together people with Down syndrome along with their advocates including friends, family, teachers, politicians, co-workers — all to promote acceptance and inclusion for people with Down syndrome and to raise funds for education, research and advocacy programs including health, sports, employment, and community outreach.  They headed to historic Central Park and the Great Hill where the festivities included the walk, dancing, singing and a celebration for all.

The National Buddy Walk program has more than 250 events yearly including 325,000 participants world-wide. This leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome provides state-of-the-art, comprehensive programming and present an opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities.

The Laura Lyle Fan Club.

The following day on Pier 17 they held the Autism Speaks Walk – powered by love!  – with more than 2,500 walkers celebrating the mission moment led by dedicated Autism Speaks volunteers. According to the CDC, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the US today. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.

Participants walk to show their love of people with autism and the parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, relatives and providers who support them.  Every step they take and every dollar raised helps enhance their lives today and accelerate a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow ensuring a brighter future that is filled with abundant progress for these amazing children.

Andrew Lyle — The “A” Team.
Alison Nixon, Catalina Nelson, Camilla Nelson, Olga Alcarez, Susan Mathison, and Paul Judice.
Andrew Lyle, Iza Kotowski, and Laura Lyle.
L. to r.: Tracy Nixon and Andrew Lyle; Andrew Lyle and Troy Providenti.
Laura Lyle and Chris Wragge.
Buddy Walk medals.
Laura Lyle and Lady B – Lavender Blues Music.
Tracy Nixon, Annie Watt, and Dede McMahon.
Jeffrey Kallen and Ryan McMahon.
Eugenia Kaye, Molly Zukerkorn, Tracy Nixon, Jane Providenti, Andrew Lyle, Troy Providenti, and Laura Lyle.

Photographs by Annie Watt (BBtS & Buddy Walk/Autism Speaks)

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