Yale experts to share their insights at LEAP fundraiser dinners

Author Amy Chua, the Professors of Bluegrass (led by Provost Peter Salovey) and Peabody Museum director Derek Briggs are just a few of the Yale-affiliated individuals who will share their talents and expertise during the 16th annual LEAP Year Event fundraiser on Thursday Feb. 24.

Sinatra biographer Tom Santopietro and HigherOne entrepreneur Miles Lasater are also among the more than two dozen luminaries who will take part in the event, which benefits LEAP (Leadership, Education and Athletics in Partnership), an after-school mentoring program that engages children and youth in opportunities that promote educational success and inspire them to become good citizens and agents of positive change for their communities.

Here’s how it works: The featured individuals — notable leaders in a wide range of fields, from music to dance, visual arts, architecture, biography, politics, gastronomy, astronomy and more — are guests of honor at intimate dinner parties hosted by supporters of LEAP in private homes throughout the Greater New Haven area. Members of the general public can join in the evening’s conversation and/or entertainment for the price of a ticket.

The evening’s events will begin with a cocktail reception, provided by Culinary Concerts and the Wine Thief, at the Hopkins School, New Haven, 5-7 p.m. Guest authors will be there to sign their recent books. The dinners follow at 7:30 p.m.

For those unable to attend the Thursday event, five additional dinners will be held on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m. with international pollster Stanley Greenberg, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Michele Wiles, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, volunteer activist the Reverend Peter Allen and Wall Street Journal columnist David Wessel.

LEAP was created in 1992 to make a difference in the lives of children and young people from challenged urban neighborhoods. LEAP hires, trains, guides and supervises 70 college and high school counselors and 30 middle-school teachers-in-training to run year-round after-school programs for 300 children ages 7 to 12.

The LEAP dinners are the organization’s most significant fund-raising event. Last year, benefit tickets and the unstinting generosity of individual and corporate sponsors raised more than $90,000, all of which went directly into the organization’s programs. Learn more at leapforkids.org.

Tickets to the dinner and reception are $150; tickets to the reception only are $50. To make a reservation, call the LEAP development office at 203-773-0770. Spaces are limited; the deadline is Feb. 14.

The following is a list of the special guests and hosts.

Thursday, Feb. 24

HISTORIC LIVES. Yale’s renowned Cold War historian, John Lewis Gaddis — whose biography of the American diplomat George F. Kennan (1904-2005), chief architect of the U.S. containment strategy during the Cold War, will be out in the fall — will share a taped interview with Kennan, and discuss how teaching, research and writing complement one another. Hosts: Lisa & David Totman, Hamden.

NEXT GENERATION DEMOCRACY. Jared Duval, author of “Next Generation Democracy: What the Open Source Revolution Means for Power, Politics and Change,” will discuss citizen participation, crowd-sourcing solutions to problems, and self-initiation in government and public policy. Hosts: Debby Applegate & Bruce Tulgan, New Haven.

CLASSICAL CONVERSATIONS. The members of the Haven String Quartet — Tina Hadari, Yaira Matyakuboura, Colin Benn and Matthew Beckmann — will discuss their work providing tuition-free music education through their non-profit, Music Haven. Hosts: Maureen & Frank Walsh, New Haven.

TIGER MOTHER. Yale Law School professor Amy Chua will speak about her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” about her decision to raise two daughters in the “strict Chinese” way her parents raised her. Hosts: Denise & Ira Rock, Woodbridge.

HISTORY HOUSE. Antiques collector Fred Giampietro will lead a tour of his and wife, Kathryn’s, extensive collection, including American folk art and early modern furniture housed in their 19th-century New Haven carriage house.

GONE FISHING. Host Bun Lai will welcome guests at his New Haven restaurant, Miya’s Sushi, the first and only sustainable sushi restaurant in the Northeast and the one witg the largest vegetarian menu.

KAHN’T MISS THIS ONE. Carter Wiseman, an instructor at the Yale School of Architecture, and former architecture critic for New York magazine, will talk about his new book, “Louis I. Kahn: Beyond Time and Style: A Life in Architecture,” the first in-depth biographical study of architect whose works include the Yale Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art. Hosts: Karen & Rick Weis, Branford.

24 CARROT CONVERSATION. Culinary expert Claire Criscuolo, co-owner of New Haven’s Claire’s Corner Copia, will discuss how small businesses can make a large impact in their community. Hosts: Gary & Valencia Goodridge, Woodbridge.

RENAISSANCE WOMAN. Patricia Garland, the Yale Art Gallery’s senior conservator of paintings and a recognized expert in the research, study and treatment of easel paintings, will talk about recent discoveries in Yale’s art collections. Host: Regina Winters at Zinc restaurant, New Haven.

INTERNET NEIGHBORHOOD. Ben Berkowitz, co-founder of SeeClickFix, a website that gives local citizens the means to actively care for their neighborhoods, will look at how the Internet can enhance our world. Hosts: Carol & Stephen Ross, New Haven.

ARTS AROUND THE WORLD. Mary Lou Aleskie, executive director of New Haven’s annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas, will share stories of her travels around the globe and discuss how festivals can be powerful tools of diplomacy. Hosts: Robert & Priscilla Dannies, New Haven.

HOW SWEET IT IS. John W. Barricelli, host of “Everyday Food” on PBS and owner of SoNo Baking Company & Café in South Norwalk, will offer a sampling of some of his confections, which have included everything from coconut cake filled with coconut pastry cream to raspberry-pistachio tartlets and fresh-fruit galettes. Hosts: Tom Griggs & Ed Bottomley, New Haven.

THE GRASS IS BLUE. The Professors of Bluegrass, led by Yale Provost Peter Salovey (bass/vocals), will share their music featuring guitar, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. Have fun as you learn more about their music and the history of the band. Hosts: Josiah & Martha Venter, Peter Salovey & Marta Moret, Yale Provost House, New Haven.

ITALIAN INDULGENCE. Melissa Pelligrino and Matthew Scialabbo, whose work inspires Americans to learn more about how their food is grown and how to cook seasonally with locally grown products, will share secrets from their cookbook “The Italian Farmer’s Table.” Hosts: Patricia Pierce & Marc Rubenstein, New Haven.

OLD BLUE EYES. The guest will be the author of “Sinatra in Hollywood,” Tom Santopietro, whose biography chronicles the singer’s film career, his stormy marriages and the rumors of mob involvement in his career. Host: Christopher Korenowsky, New Haven Free Public Library, New Haven

ENTREPRENEURIAL EVENING. Entrepreneur Miles Lasater — whose young company, HigherOne, founded and based in New Haven, was recognized by former Governor Rell for its planned expansion in Science Park and creation of over 200 jobs — will look at what’s ahead for New Haven in the new economy. Hosts: Kel & Will Ginsberg, New Haven.

ON POINT. Jared Redick, artistic director for the New Haven Ballet, will discuss his career as a performer with the Boston Ballet and as the principal at the Norwell Studio for the Boston Ballet School, as well as his plans for the Elm City company. Hosts: Susan & Al Gobel, New Haven.

DINNER WITH THE DINOSAURS. Director of Yale’s Peabody Museum, Derek Briggs, will discuss his research into the fossils of the soft parts of ancient creatures that normally decay over time, and how these fossilization patterns reveal the ecological and evolutionary importance of animals. Hosts: Thomas & Susan Duffy, New Haven.

ELEGANT ENTERTAINMENT. Amber Edwards, producer, director, and editor of the PBS series “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook,” and New Haven pianist Andy Rubenoff will perform songs from the American songbook. Edwards also will describe her experience producing the PBS series, which chronicles Feinstein’s efforts to find, preserve, and pass along the lyrics of great American songwriters. Host: Dave McCoart at Sage American Grill & Oyster Bar, New Haven.

BOOK NOTES. William S. Reese — whose company has acquired a large collection of rare books, manuscripts and first-edition works from the 18th through the 21st centuries — will share a sampling from his special collection in his home. Co-host: Dorothy Hurt, New Haven.

STARRY, STARRY NIGHT. At the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium, Yale astronomy professor Charles Bailyn will guide a tour of the universe, highlighting constellations, stars, and planets that can be observed in the New England sky. Hosts: Rita Berkson & Randy Reinhold at the Leitner Family Observatory, New Haven.

CINEMA CITY. Guests will visit the newest building on the New Haven skyline, 360 State St., and join Jim Charney, film buff and professor of psychiatry at Yale Medical School, for a night at the movies. Charney teaches the Yale College senior seminar “Madness at the Movies,” which uses film to explore the experience and portrayal of mental illness. Host: Bruce Becker.

LOVE YOUR HEART. Co-author of “The Kardea Gourmet: Smart & Delicious Eating for a Healthy Heart” and founder of Kardea Nutrition, Rob Leighton will discuss “Health Entrepreneurship in an at Risk Society” during a heart healthy dinner. Hosts: Deb & Ron Nudel, Woodbridge.

Saturday, Feb. 26

POLITICAL PERSPECTIVES. Political researcher and pollster Stanley Greenberg will share his views on the political landscape and the future of American politics. Hosts: Rosa DeLauro & Stanley Greenberg, New Haven.

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, author of the recently released “How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like,” will discuss his research on our understanding of ourselves and other people as it relates to morality, interpretation of art and fiction, and moral reasoning. Hosts: Cheever & Sally Tyler, New Haven.

IN PRAISE OF SERVICE. Peter Allen, vice president of Simply Smiles — which brings U.S. volunteers, including LEAP students from New Haven, to Mexico’s poorest cities to participate in community service projects — will share his experiences and discuss how service work impacts volunteers as well as those they serve. Hosts: Gary & Deb Desir, Woodbridge.

MONEY TALKS. Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal columnist David M. Wessel will talk about the recent economy, the forecast for the future and the role of the Federal Reserve, the subject of his recent book “In Fed We Trust.” Hosts: Cynthia Farrar & Paul Kennedy, New Haven.

ON YOUR TOES. The special guest will be Michele Wiles, principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Wiles earned a scholarship to the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C, at the age of 10. Her credits with ABT include Odette-Odile in “Swan Lake,” Princess Aurora and Lilac Fairy in “The Sleeping Beauty” and Moyna in “Giselle.” Hosts: Jonathan Holloway & Aisling Colón, New Haven.

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