Gala Committee co-chair Jennifer Caesar, center, with auction co-chairs Jodi Fishman-Osti, left, and Rachael Bissig at the MAD Academy’s Roaring ’20s Great Gala dinner and fundraiser on March 11 at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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Flappers and gangster gents were in costume for the Roaring ’20s Great Gala dinner and fundraiser on March 11 to benefit the Multimedia Arts & Design Academy at Santa Barbara High School.

The event, held at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, included a social hour, silent auction bidding and a buffet dinner catered by Olio e Limone. The evening was made even more special as all of the activities were enjoyed under a spectacular full moon.

Fine wines were provided by Babcock Winery, and the all-gal group The Honey Taps provided tap dancing entertainment to the delight of more than 300 guests. The Idiomatiques and DJ Charles Fossett-Lee also provided awesome music.

The goal for the evening was to raise $175,000 for MAD to replace 36 aging computers in its multimedia lab. The new technology and equipment will allow teachers to continue to provide hands-on, state-of-the-art training and instruction to students.

Actor, producer and enthusiastic MAD parent Billy Baldwin emceed the live auction, which included getaway trips to New York City, New Orleans, a Whistler ski trip, a golf vacation in Monterey and a three-day trip to San Francisco aboard an America’s Cup Class yacht.

Gold and Silver Sponsors included Noozhawk, Babcock Winery, Revolution Post, the Hogue family, Edhat, Arlington Financial Advisors, Morgan Stanley, Savvspace, UBS and many other Silver, Bronze and in-kind sponsors.

Gala Committee members included co-chairs Stacy DiFilippo and Jen Caesar, auction chairs Rachael Bissig and Jodi Fishman-Osti, Kathleen Ousley, Lisa Scibird, Kim Clark, Christine Feldman, Aruni Boteju, Kim Cantin, MaryAnne Contreras, Joanne Cryan, Laura Drammer, Cindy Feinberg, Beth Ford, Gretel Huglin, George Kubinyi, Maren Lambe, Terry Mehr, Marin Morales-Aguilar, Robyn O’Hearn, Ann Pieramici, Sabine Pollero, Amy Reidl, Doreen Sales, Tami Sherman, Ginny Speirs, Pablo Sweeny, KC Thomas, MAD student photographers and MAD Academy Director Dan Williams.

The Gala Committee was supported by MAD Academy board president Jerrad Burford and board members Ben Mascari, Carola Nicholson, Melanie Cava, Ron Pulice, Nancy Kogevinos, Bill Macfadyen, Jacob Tell, Paul Dore, Darren Osti, James Wahlber and Steve Berkus.

“We provide our students with a world-class education taught by industry professionals with state-of-the-art equipment,” Burford said. “The end results are students prepared to take on the world.”

MAD Academy treasurer Carola Nicholson with her son and MAD Academy student Max Youngson.

MAD Academy treasurer Carola Nicholson with her son and MAD Academy student Max Youngson. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

The event included the presentation of the MAD Distinguished Alumni Award, which was given to 2004 MAD Academy graduate Buck Lindelof.

Lindelof completed his degree at the USC film school in 2008. He already has been accepted into the Directors Guild of America and works at Warner Brothers on the TV show 2 Broke Girls as assistant director.

“I especially thank the MAD Academy board members and Director Dan Williams for this award,” Lindelof said. “For the kids out there, my advice is have patience!”

The MAD Alumni Award was given to Ruwani Horanage, who was joined by several family members at the gala. She attended MAD from 2001-04 after emigrating from Sri Lanka. Ruwani is working in the industry after graduating from California State University at Northridge with a degree in cinema and television production.

Now in its 20th year, the Multimedia Arts & Design Academy is a distinctive educational community within Santa Barbara High School that combines the best of both public and private schools. MAD educates the whole person and inspires students to find their passion while acquiring professional media arts skills.

The academy’s collaborative environment emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, meaningful community service and the development of leadership skills. It values integrity, teamwork and a passion for learning that prepares its diverse student body to succeed in the global community. Its media art curriculum is focused on the areas of digital imaging, graphic design, social media/web design, digital photography, video editing and video production.

MAD Academy alumni have gone on to work in media professions at Paramount Pictures, EA Games, Lucasfilm, CBS, NBC and many other media corporations. Graduates also have established careers in industry and academia as lawyers, accountants, health professionals and university professors.

Click here for more information about the Multimedia Arts & Design Academy, or call 805.966.7918 or email

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at This article includes reportinf Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

MAD Alumni Award honoree Ruwani Horanage expresses her gratitude to Dan Williams, director of the MAD Academy.

MAD Alumni Award honoree Ruwani Horanage expresses her gratitude to Dan Williams, director of the MAD Academy. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)