BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
When you are celebrating young filmmakers, endangered species saved, and the practice of empathy you can’t help but feel you have had a night well spent.
Guests at the recent Facets Screen Gems Gala at the Arts Club not only saluted this year’s honoree, Lincoln Park Zoo’s President and CEO, Kevin Bell, but also Facets founder Milos Stehlik, who spoke compellingly on planting seeds for the next generation through Facets’ year-round educational programs and the Chicago International Film Festival.
“Our Facets programs for kids reach 26,000 students, 50 percent of whom come from low-income areas on full scholarships, and are guiding kids toward understanding others, resolving conflicts peacefully, and celebrating differences. It’s not enough to teach kids to code. Just as important is to teach students to be compassionate, caring human beings, full-fledged citizens committed to saving the planet,” explains Stehlik.
He continued, “Facets, like the life of the planet, is a choice. Each time you click away from children opening YouTube and choose Facets Kids—our streaming portal of over 1000 of the best, award-winning films—or take a chance on watching art and documentary films from independent filmmakers on another streaming platform Facets Edge, each time you enable a child to see a different world with fresh eyes, you are making a difference.”
Kevin Bell, who joined the Lincoln Park Zoo in 1976 as curator of birds and was named CEO in 1995 after helping it become the only privately held free zoo in the country, uses films, blogs, television, and social media to stress the importance of conservation and connection with wildlife.
Noted Stehlik of the honoree: “Kevin’s groundbreaking educational programs that harness the power of empathy have truly been calls to action to become better stewards of our planet.”
Chicago Tribune columnist and Gala MC Rick Kogan set the tone when he saluted Julia Swartz and Max Weber, talented Chicago Public School students who filmed an interview with Kevin Bell highlighting the Zoo’s international leadership in education, conservation, and research. Centerpieces provided by Beth Krauss, Vice President of Communications for the Lincoln Park Zoo, featured giraffes that were a nod to those who posed prominently in the film’s background. Clever auctioneer, Christie’s Vice President Steve Zick, enticed the audience to bid even higher on the paddle raise with the promise of a giraffe to take home.
Facets board member Gretchen Helfrich saluted past honorees including De Gray, Harriet Meyer, Helmut and Deborah Jahn, and Suzette Bulley, co-chair of the gala, who were in attendance. Barbara Koren and Matthew Steinmetz serve as Facets Board Chairs and Mich Cobey and Susan Regenstein were on the event’s leadership team.
For further information about Facets, visit facets.org.
Photo credit: Jennifer Girard