Children's Institute's 5th Annual Gala Honors Gelila Assefa Puck, Derrick Rossi, PhD, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith And Paul Kanin

May 03, 2023 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
LOS ANGELES (May 3, 2023) Children's Institute (CII), one of the largest agencies of its kind partnering with communities to provide integrated, trauma-informed programs and services, is hosting an in-person gala emceed by Rob Reiner in Santa Monica, California, on Tuesday, May 9 from 5:00PM to 8:00PM. The event raises funds to support CII's transformative programs that empower families in achieving educational success and emotional wellbeing, which build pathways to economic mobility and lifelong health. Now in its 5th year, the Cape & Gown Gala recognizes individuals dedicated to improving the lives of children and families; past honorees include world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, Chairperson of Warner Bros. Television, Channing Dungey, and Co-creator of the Moderna vaccine Kizzmekia Corbett, PhD.

"Heroes come in many forms and the people they help are impacted in very different ways. The quality that connects them all is the understanding that we have a shared responsibility to reduce suffering and maximize everyone's opportunity to thrive," said Martine Singer, CII's President and CEO, "This year, we are honoring four incredible people whose unique paths have converged to support CII's mission and ensure that all of our Los Angeles communities can be happy, healthy and safe."

This year's honorees include: Gelila Assefa Puck; Derrick Rossi, PhD; Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith; and Paul Kanin.

Gelila Assefa Puck is Partner and Global Creative Director for The Wolfgang Puck Group of Companies, as well as an award-winning philanthropist recognized for her advocacy for children, women with HIV, and increased opportunities around education. She has been a member of CII's Board of Trustees since 2010.

"I immigrated to the United States to escape oppression during the Red Terror in Ethiopia, and I have spent many years working on behalf of women and children in Africa. Now that Los Angeles is my home, I see the impact that decades of underinvestment and racist policies have on communities here," said Puck, "Getting involved with Children's Institute has allowed me to make a positive impact as their work embraces partnership and increases our Los Angeles community's capacity for healing and resilience."

Derrick Rossi, PhD is a serial biotech entrepreneur and leading stem cell scientist. His efforts in the development of cutting-edge technologies and new therapeutic strategies are at the forefront of regenerative medicine and biotechnology. Dr. Rossi co-founded Moderna Therapeutics, a clinicalstage company focused on modified mRNA therapeutics that led to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. He is also an Executive Producer at Castle Rock Entertainment.

"Every child should have the opportunity to chase their curiosities," said Dr. Rossi, "From stem cell biology to entertainment, I've been fortunate enough to realize my dreams through not only innate ability and hard work, but also opportunities that are, unfortunately, not equitably afforded to all communities. I'm proud to work with Children's Institute to help get resources to kids who could have the next big idea that will change the world."

Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith is the founder and CEO of the independent record label, Top Dawg Entertainment. His company is home to some of the hottest artists including SZA, Isaiah Rashad, Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock, among others. He grew up in the Nickerson Gardens housing development in Watts, where he continues to give back to his community.

"Having grown up in Watts, I've always wanted to be a leader who could show kids that there is more to life than what we're born into," Tiffith said. "My own work in the community and the work that Children's Institute does is aligned because it's meant to break generational cycles of poverty and trauma. Healing is possible and it comes in many forms, from a concert to a community center."

Paul Kanin, who is receiving CII's Lifetime Achievement Award, is Chair of CII's Board of Trustees, where he has served for 18 years. Apart from his commitment to Los Angeles families, Paul has been a lawyer for over 46 years. His firm, The Kanin Law Corporation, specializes in the area of taxes, trusts and estates. Paul's public service and charitable activities are extensive and include his role as founding director of the Beverly Hills Police Foundation, and for 17 years he served as a reserve officer of that city's police department.

"I believe that being a part of CII has provided me the greatest satisfaction of all of my volunteer work," said Kanin, "Attending a foster youth graduation or serving at the Thanksgiving luncheons, you see dozens of people who have committed their lives to taking care of children. And once you've seen it, you'll want to be a part of it."

This year's gala will take place on May 9, 2023, in-person and outside at the Fairmont Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica. To support Children's Institute by attending the 5th Annual Cape & Gown Gala, please visit:


Children's Institute (CII) has served Los Angeles communities since 1906. Every year, CII supports 30,000 children and families across Los Angeles in achieving emotional well-being and educational success, which build pathways to economic mobility. We work in communities impacted by decades of underinvestment and racist policies- from Echo Park to Watts to Long Beach. CII offers education, counseling services, parenting support, convening spaces and enrichment programs in the community and at our early education centers, K-12 schools, and neighborhood hubs.

Learn more at More about CII's Board of Trustees, can be found here:

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