Los Angeles

The Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs (The Independent School Alliance) honored outstanding members of the Los Angeles community at its annual Impact Awards gala, Thursday, April 20, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills. Nina L. Shaw, Esq., Founding Partner, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano; Kevin Demoff, Los Angeles Rams Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer; and Mary Beth Barry, Director of Admissions, Brentwood Lower School were honored. Joshua Hamilton, Brian Laibow and Mira Lee Co-Chaired. Nick Cannon emceed. Vocalist Judith Hill, featured in the Oscar and Grammy-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom and on The Voice, was guest performer.

Bob Riddle, President of the Alliance Board of Directors and Head of Schools at Crossroads, thanked interim Alliance Executive Director Herson Mojica for his efforts in overseeing the work of the organization while pursuing his doctorate in clinical psychology. Mojica was presented a plaque of appreciation.

Cynthia Shackelford, an Alliance parent whose daughter attended Brentwood School, introduced and presented honoree Mary Beth Barry with the first of the evenings three Impact Awards. A life-long educator, Mary Beth Barry notes that her first teaching position landed her “in a windowless cellar classroom in Rhode Island!” She went on to join schools in Massachusetts, Washington DC and eventually California, primarily as a kindergarten teacher. In 1995 she began what she describes as “an amazing journey,” as one of the founding faculty of Brentwood School, eventually leading to her appointment as Director of the school’s Lower Division in 2000. A passionate supporter of school diversity, Barry became involved with The Independent School Alliance, eventually joining its Board and later served as the organization’s Chair for five years. She is the first to extol the work of The Alliance, noting “I am so proud to be part of an organization that helps change a child’s trajectory.”

Multi-award-winning actor, writer, director and producer, Lawrence Fishburne presented the Impact Award to long-time friend and colleague, Nina L. Shaw. Describing her as “one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, she is strong enough to know that true power has nothing to do with brute strength and everything to do with doing what’s right.” He went on to describe her early roots growing up in Harlem, yet never losing her focus. “To achieve that level of seniority in Hollywood and the legal profession is difficult. For a woman of color – who came up in the era Nina did – it was considered virtually impossible, but she did. And she did it solely on hard work, passion and principles.”

Nina L. Shaw, Esq is founding partner in the entertainment law firm of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, where her client roster is a veritable “who’s who” of award-winning actors, writers, producers and directors as well as entrepreneurs and entertainment executives. Boasting a long-standing commitment to children’s education and especially as an advocate for the education of girls and women, she currently serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Independent School Alliance.

Former UCLA Bruin and Green Bay Packers football star, Jonathan Franklin, currently with the LA Rams in community and external affairs, presented the evening’s third Impact Award to Kevin Demoff, now in his ninth year as Chief Operating Office & Executive Vice President of Football Operations with the Rams. Franklin credits Demoff with “changing my life.” After an injury ended his football career, Demoff stepped in and gave him a job working for the Rams in the inner city, heading up their football initiatives. “He gave my life a new meaning and now I work to give back to those kids with the same energy and passion that Kevin gives back to so many people,” said Franklin.

Established in 1985 by a group of Southern California school heads, The Independent School Alliance is an organization of 54 private, independent elementary and secondary schools that endeavor to increase their diversity. It is the mission of The Independent School Alliance to inform members of racial communities presently underrepresented in independent schools of the option of independent school education; to identify applicants from these communities and assist them in the application process; to provide on-going support programs for students and their families; and to act as a resource to member schools assisting them in their individual efforts to address issues of racial diversity and multicultural education. Over the past 14 years, The Independent School Alliance students have received nearly $70 million in financial aid from member schools. For further information on The Independent School Alliance, please visit independentschoolalliance.org.

— Submitted by Pam Giangregorio, Katy Sweet & Associates