Alzheimer’s Women’s Initiative Inspire Luncheon with Jane Seymour

By Joanne A Calitri   |   May 9, 2023
Seated: Anne Towbes, Katina Zaninovich, Jane Seymour, Gerd Jordano, and Dr. Gabriella Garcia; Standing: Lindsey Leonard, Linda Alderman, Carol Fell, Sue Adams, Robin Sonner, Carole East, Tony Gonzales, Leigh Cashman, and Rosanne Masi Marquis (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The return of the in-person Alzheimer’s Women’s Initiative Inspire Luncheon was sold out – more than 400 guests filling all three SB Hilton ballrooms on Wednesday, April 26. There was a super up-buzz in the air at the reception as guests connected with friends. VIPs were seen at the step’n’repeat for media photographs. Next to the check-in desk was a display of Jane Seymour’s artistically designed silk scarves for sale, with the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s organization and her Open Hearts Foundation. The hallway had tables and easel displays with educational brochures and volunteers.

As the banquet doors opened, guests were seated, served lunch, and the program commenced. Gerd Jordano, co-founder of the Women’s Initiative, welcomed the guests and paid tribute to Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree for her generous support of the organization. Lindsey Leonard, Executive Director of the Central Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, acknowledged the founders, event chairs, the event’s 41 sponsors, and the caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Claire Sexton provided the current research data on cures, new blood testing for the disease, and the January FDA accelerated approval of Leqembi™ (lecanemab-irmb) for early onset dementia. Medicare will pay for the drug pending full FDA approval July 2023. A poignant view of dementia was given by Tony Gonzales who talked about being diagnosed with it at age 47, and doing all he can to raise awareness for it. He acknowledged the support of his wife – whom he credits for his being here. Anne Towbes introduced keynote speaker, actress, and philanthropist Jane Seymour, as “a woman of all seasons, with generosity, purpose and love.” Seymour thanked everyone for having her speak, and shared her stories of acting as a woman with dementia in the film, Ruby’s Choice, her producing the 2014 documentary I’ll Be Me about Glen Campbell’s own struggles with Alzheimer’s on his final tour, and how dementia affected some of her family. She also mentioned missing living in Montecito and her girlfriends who live there. Emcee Andrew Firestone led the live auction to raise additional funds.

Seen at the lovely event were Dana and Andrea Newquist with sister Nancy Newquist-Nolan, Jim Crook, Vince Caballero of Union Bank, Katina Zaninovich, Sue Adams, Dr. Gabriella Garcia, Linda Alderman, Carol Fell, Robin Sonner, Carole East, Leigh Cashman, and Rosanne Masi Marquis, its sponsor organizations and board members. 

Also attending, and showing a trend of nonprofits supporting each other, was the executive team from VNA Health: SB COO JoAnn Mack; Director of the foundation Lailan McGrath; CHPCA, President and CEO Kieran Shah; Senior Development Associate Maggie Mabuchi; Development Associate Melissa Cure; and Director of Marketing and Communication Easter Moorman. I talked with Shah about their support of Alzheimer’s, he replied, “As our communities face the challenges of an aging population and the increasing rate of Alzheimer’s, it will take creative partnerships among nonprofit, healthcare, and social service organizations to be the safety net for patients and their caregivers. At VNA Health, one of our core values is teamwork, so partnering with Jane Seymour and our local Alzheimer’s Association is one way we can be our community’s care partner, now and into the future.”

At the time of printing, the luncheon raised $216K toward their $250K goal. Donations can still be made at



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