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Jane Seymour and Katie Flynn

Jane Seymour and Katie Flynn

FEATURES

Lending Hands

By Nadine Jolie Courtney

Photography by Cameron Gardner, Sue Hudelson and Jeff Nelson

10.23.18

From environmentalism to the arts and everything in between, the range of charitable causes to support seems to grow every year. Here, L.A.’s philanthropic power players share the organizations closest to their hearts.

Hearts Aflame
Jane Seymour and daughter Katie Flynn carry on a legacy of community giving.

“If you can find a way to help somebody else, it’ll take you out of your own cycle of challenges, so you can find a purpose and impact others,” says Jane Seymour, OBE, and Emmy Award-winning actress, of her Open Hearts Foundation, a social impact accelerator providing resources and tools to nonprofits. Seymour, impacted by her mother’s experiences as an internment camp survivor during WWII, founded the organization in 2010. “She was all about helping other people, and always said, ‘Darling, when life is tough and you’re dealing with something insurmountable, there’s always someone more hard off than you,’” she explains. Seymour passed along the legacy of giving to her daughter, Katie Flynn, who co-founded Young Hearts with friends Ella Freyinger and Adee Zach. An auxiliary branch of Open Hearts, Young Hearts aims to support young philanthropists. “I was trying to teach my children about compassion and empathy, so we’d hand out care packages, and we’d have conversations,” Flynn explains. “It made a huge difference in how my daughter related to people.” Open Hearts chooses a yearly theme, such as this year’s Women and Children mission, and helps support organizations such as the Alliance for Children’s Rights for its Nov. 17 adoption day. “We wanted to build a community starting on the ground with the volunteer groups we partner with so we can match people to them,” says Flynn. For Seymour, there was never any doubt that Flynn would carry on the family legacy. “She’s always been an outgoing, loving, caring spirit, and now she’s manifesting in a way I’m incredibly proud of,” Seymour says. “It seems to have passed through the generations!

Broad Strokes
Quinn Ezralow is committed to improving quality of life for all Angelenos.

Co-chair of LACMA’s Director’s Circle, third-generation Angeleno Quinn Ezralow is passionate about giving back to L.A. “I hope to improve lifestyle, health and education for anybody and everyone in the Los Angeles area,” she says of her work with a variety of charities, from the Junior League of Los Angeles to USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center to Heart of Los Angeles, the latter of which provides over 3,500 underserved youth with nurturing programs in academics, arts and athletics. HOLA is currently partnering with the Department of Recreation and Parks to build the environmentally friendly HOLA Arts and Recreation Center, where the Ezralow Family Pavilion will boast an indoor-outdoor multifunctional performance space. While Ezralow is tireless in her work for a better L.A., it’s the Women’s Cancer Research Fund and Breast Cancer Research Fund that truly have her heart. “WCRF and BCRF are my passion,” she says of the awareness, prevention and research charities, noting the WCRF’s Unforgettable Evening gala scheduled for February 2019 at the Beverly Wilshire. No matter how big or small the issue, Ezralow is committed to addressing it. “There are so many like-minded people and a multitude of programs in L.A. It is my continued hope that everyone in Los Angeles finds a place to feel safe, dream and thrive.” 

Philippe Cousteau and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau

Philippe Cousteau and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau

Sea Change
Conservationists Philippe Cousteau and Ashlan Gorse Cousteau raise environmental awareness.

Grandson of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau, Philippe Cousteau grew up with adventure in his bones. “My grandfather pioneered the environmental movement of the 20th century,” says Philippe, co-host of the Travel Channel show Caribbean Pirate Treasure alongside his wife, Ashlan Gorse Cousteau, former E! network host and passionate activist on Capitol Hill. “I’m a firm believer that the key to solving so many of the environmental problems we face is to show our elected officials—of all parties—we care about conservation. Clean air and clean water should not be a partisan issue,” says Ashlan. In addition to their conservation work and a forthcoming documentary on the future of Earth’s oceans, Philippe works with EarthEcho, founded in honor of his father, Philippe Cousteau Sr. The group seeks to bring youth awareness and activism to the conservation movement. “We’ve seen young people pass laws, raise millions of dollars for a cause, start pioneering businesses and invent incredible technologies and solutions to problems that no adult would ever dream of,” says the younger Philippe. “We believe young people are capable of being the leaders on the frontlines of this movement, and we’re empowering youth around the world with the tools and knowledge necessary to become just that.”

Sweet Charity
CBS executive Catrice Monson is passionate about community outreach, helping others and... candy.

As senior vice president of corporate diversity and inclusion at CBS, Catrice Monson holds a critical role: helping attract a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive work environment. “It allows me to combine community outreach and my passion for working with people,” she says. That passion was instilled in Monson by her family. “Community, public service and caring for others was part of my DNA from the beginning,” she explains. Today, her nonprofit, Community Academics Mentoring emphasizes the importance of education, advocacy and outreach for the underrepresented. “My dad originally started a nonprofit called NEED, which focused on low-income housing and education,” she explains. “When he passed away, my mom, sister and I wanted to honor his legacy, so we created CAM.” Monson is passionate about the opportunities education can create, having experienced the results firsthand. “My parents sacrificed a lot for me to attend the schools I did, so I feel compelled to do as much as I can to make sure that others get similar opportunities,” she says. As if Monson weren’t busy enough, she also runs Sweetness and Delight, a candy company with a philanthropic arm focusing on “random acts of sweetness” for organizations and worthy causes. “It gives me nothing but joy to see people’s faces when they walk into a room and see a sweets table that delights them,” Monson shares. “I love celebrating people and making them feel special.” 

EIF

Gateway to Change
New EIF CEO Nicole Sexton brings fresh ideas to a charitable Hollywood powerhouse.

Marking its 75th anniversary this year, Entertainment Industry Foundation has raised over $1 billion for health, educational and social issues by harnessing the power of celebrity to raise awareness and funds. Last year’s addition of CEO Nicole Sexton, former chief of staff at Central Park Conservancy, marks a new chapter. “I hope to build on EIF’s extraordinary history of philanthropy in the entertainment community and ensure its future as the go-to for cause-related activities initiated by the creative community,” she says. EIF’s VP of development and corporate relations, Tracy Paul—whose company Tracy Paul & Company Inc. is a strategic alliance partner with EIF—adds, “EIF serves as a gateway to giving for the entertainment industry.” The depth and breadth of EIF’s reach means they’re behind powerhouse programs like Stand Up to Cancer, Hunger Is, and Revlon Run/Walk for Women. Their newest initiative finds the group partnering with Linkin Park on Music for Relief, now EIF’s official crisis-relief program, with Whitney Showler at the helm. “From the wildfires in California to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, we’ve seen the entertainment community respond quickly and generously,” says Paul. Sexton has been similarly impressed by Hollywood’s tremendous ability to harness change. “I’ve been heartened by everyone’s willingness to use their voice for good,” she says. “Celebrity provides great privilege, but also great power, and the number of individuals compelled to use that power for good is inspiring.”

Photo by Sue Hudelson; From left: Tracy Paul, dress by Oscar de la Renta, earrings by Buccellati, diamond ring by Tiffany & Co. , shoes by Yves Saint Laurent, Hair by Sally Hershberger, Joey Carrera and Stacy Heitman; Brian Gott, jacket by Woolrich; Nicole Sexton, outfit by Moschino, earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels and custom bracelet; Regina Miller, outfit by Brunello Cucinelli, Makeup by Kelly M. Christensen