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SYLVIA'S HOPEFUL BREAKFAST

Although most of the biz heavyweights in attendance had been to plenty of City of Hope Spirit of Life kickoff breakfasts, Wednesday's gathering at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills was full of firsts. 

The biggest of these is the first-ever African-American woman honoree, Epic Chairman/CEO Sylvia Rhone. (Who also happens to be the first African-American woman to be Chairman/CEO of a major label.)

It was also the biggest turnout yet for a COH kickoff, according to the organizers.

Rhone's trailblazing career was clearly an inspiration to many of the attendees, a point made poignantly by Motown boss Ethiopia Habtemariam, who recalled that seeing a black woman in the role of Elektra Chairman in the dawning days of her own career filled her with a sense of possibility—and that Rhone's gracious response to her early fan letter kept her on the path. 

There were luminaries aplenty, but Clarence Avant, who sat up front at Rhone's table, got a special shout-out from event host and UMPG exec Evan Lamberg, who urged all in attendance to see The Black Godfather, the Netflix doc about the industry icon. (He's right; don't miss it.)

COH's Dr. Loretta Ehrunmwunsee, a thoracic surgeon and oncologist, spoke eloquently about the issue of "health equity," and the need to extend the fight for equality to the health-care world (and hailed Rhone for her fierceness and poise). She, Avant and Habtemariam later joined Rhone for the festive photo above.

Then it was Rhone's turn, and she offered a brief and rousing speech that wove some personal revelations about a friend's struggle with cancer into an impassioned call to blow away all previous fundraising records (after heaping praise on prior honoree Jon Platt, she vowed to outraise him). 

It's never too early to start giving; send an email for info. 

Every silver lining has a little cloud, of course, So Rhone had to endure this photo op with our own Todd Hensley and Simon Glickman.

 

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