“A Night of a Million Dreams!” the theme of the 2019 Leadership Institute and the celebratory theme for the 67th cotillion reflected the epitome of collaboration in the execution of the Los Angeles (CA) Links umbrella project. The setting for this annual gala, the day after Thanksgiving, was the Beverly Hilton Hotel. For the fifth straight year, the Los Angeles (CA) Chapter has centered leadership development of its youth around five Link Facets—Services to Youth, Health and Human Services, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and The Arts. In the greater Los Angeles Community, the focus of this meticulously planned gala culminates in a ‘Rite of Passage’ event. For the 67th year, Los Angeles Links transformed an annual social event into another enchantingly, spectacular evening with the celebration of its annual Debutante Ball. During the pre-ball reception attendees chatted with other kindred spirits while enjoying the melodious renderings of the Gregory Cook Jazz Trio, featuring Gregory on piano with Keisha Potter on saxophone and Ryan Cross on bass. Later, at the appointed hour (7:00 p.m), upon entering the ballroom, guests were immediately enraptured by the elegant setting of the event, exquisitely designed and decorated by Link Phyllis Forneret. Guests were awe struck by the beautiful table centerpieces and ornate stage décor that sparkled with the silver hues of brilliantly glittering stars, illuminating a spectacular night sky, accentuating the 2019 Cotillion theme, “A Night of a Million Dreams.” The resplendent elegance of the physical setting was second only to the captivating beauty and grace of the young ladies for whom the cotillion was planned.
Since 1952, Los Angeles Chapter, The Links, Incorporated has presented over 1000 young women to society. They participate in a series of purposeful events aimed at transforming the local community and the world. During the six month leadership development process, the cotillionettes have an opportunity to vie for service awards and scholarships based on merit.
Presentation to Dr. Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, National President of The Links, Incorporated
Debbie Beavers Watford, 2019 Los Angeles (CA) Links Cotillion Chairman
Event Officers– Left to right: Nedra Austin, Chairman/Los Angeles Chapter Charitable Trust; Kimberly Jeffries Leonard/National President, The Links, Incorporated; Janice Jameson Murray/President, Los Angeles (CA) Chapter, The Links Incorporated and Deborah Beavers Watford/2019 Cotillion Chairman, Los Angeles (CA) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated
Father and Daughter Waltz
Debutants and Escorts Waltz to “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You”
Final Waltz to “The Night is Young”
On Friday evening, November 29, 2019 the grand finale—the 67th Los Angeles Links Cotillion Ball was a reality! A re-enactment of the evening would reveal guests entering the grand ballroom to the music of harpist, Paul Baker. Cotillion Chairman, Link Deborah Beaver-Watford opened the ball, welcomed guests and thanked parents, families and friends of the debutantes as they entered the elegant affair. Cotillion Chairman Deborah Beavers-Watford acknowledged with grateful appreciation, the debutantes, their escorts, choreographers and entire cast of supporters. She then introduced the Los Angeles Links President, Janice Jamison Murray.
President Murray welcomed guests, gave remarks, and commended the debutantes for their outstanding accomplishments, participation in the Leadership Institute and for performing more than 1700 combined hours of community service. She expressed appreciation to families, friends, and to the Los Angeles community at large. Mrs. Murray introduced the members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Links, Incorporated who were in attendance and commended LA Chapter and the LA Chapter Charitable Trust for sponsorship and for relentless commitment and dedication to the cotillion. President Murray then introduced special guest, Dr. Kimberly Jefferies Leonard, the 17th National President of The Links, Incorporated. National President Leonard greeted the audience and made brief remarks. Following President Leonard’s remarks, Nedra Austin, Chairman of the Los Angeles Chapter Charitable Trust, shared some background information about the Trust. Her remarks included a partial list of recipients that benefited by funds generated through the Trust from the cotillion over the years: Charles R. Drew Medical Auxilliary, Coalition of Mental Health Professionals, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Foundation for Second Chances, Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law, Inner City Youth Orchestra of LA, LMU African American Alumni, Mother of Many and Southeast Symphony. Then came the musical presentation of the cotillion theme, “A Night of a Million Dreams”, performed live by soloist, Charlean Carmon and arranged by Susan Chatman.
Following the theme song, Ms. Austin introduced Ms. Areva Martin, Mistress of Ceremony for the evening. Ms. Martin is an award-winning civil rights attorney and best-selling author, TV host, commentator, and CNN legal analyst, who has penned three books, including the national best-seller, “Make It Rain.” Areva has appeared on “Dr. Phil” and “Good Morning America.” Ms. Martin introduced the debutantes, escorts, parents and guest entertainers for the various activities throughout the evening. She began by presenting the debutantes individually for the traditional promenade around the dance floor. Each debutante was given her own special moment as she was accompanied around the ballroom dance floor by her father, then acknowledged her mother with a graceful curtsy while presenting her mother with a lovely bouquet of flowers. Following the graceful promenade came a harmonious recorded rendition, “Because You Loved Me” by Jussie Smollet and Alicia Keyes that provided the musical backdrop for the Father and Daughter Waltz. Next, the entire court of debutantes performed a beautifully executed Cotillionette Waltz to the standard, “A Million Dreams,” all charming, poised and accomplished, as they made their debut.
Miss Amanda Nicole Halpern
Amanda is the daughter of Mrs. Karen Halpern and Dr. Evan Halpern. She is presented by her father, Dr. Evan Halpern. Her escort is Xavier Henderson, son of Dr. Christopher Henderson and Mrs. Kejone Henderson. Amanda is a senior at Los Osos High School. She enjoys the performing arts, theater and travel. Amanda plans to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater and she dreams of having a long and satisfying career on Broadway.
Miss Ayana Catherine Prewitt
Ayana is the daughter of Mrs. Alisa Prewitt and Mr. Randel Prewitt. She is presented by her father, Randel Prewitt. Her escort is Dominick James Cooper, son of Ms. Brigidann Cooper. Ayana is a senior at Calabasas High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society. and a member of Jack and Jill of America where she serves as the current Far West Teen Chaplain. Her hobbies and interests include art, traveling, acting, track, and sharing time with her family and friends. Ayana aspires to become an Entertainment Attorney.
Miss Grace Marie Jenkins
Grace is the daughter of Dr. Stephanie Weaver Jenkins and Mr. Troy Jenkins. She is presented by her father, Mr. Troy Jenkins. Her escort is Gene Langston Goodman-Ramos, son of Mr. Gene Ramos,II and Mrs. Nicole Goodman-Ramos. Grace is a senior at Marymount High School. She is an active guitarist in the school orchestra, a four-year golf letterman, and the captain of the varsity golf team. She enjoys golf, art and music. Grace plans to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country and major in Political Science and history. She aspires to pursue a career in Public Service.
Miss Madison De Pew Burnett
Madison is the daughter of Mrs. Denise Burnett and Dr. Theodore Burnett. She is presented by her father, Dr. Theodore Burnett. Her escort is Julian Miles Hamilton, son of Mr. Eric Hamilton and Mrs. Zoe Hamilton. Madison is a senior at Campbell Hall Episcopal School. She enjoys tennis and plays on the CIF varsity tennis team. She is the Teen President of the Los Angeles Chapter of Jack and Jill. A commendable feat of which she is most proud is her internship for Senator Kamala Harris this past summer. Madison, who is fluent in French, plans to major in French and francophone studies, as well as to pursue a minor in the sciences. Madison plans to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a Dentist.
Miss Sarai Olivia Carline
Sarai is the daughter of Mrs. Pamela McCoy-Carline and Mr. David Carline. She is presented by her father, Mr. David Carline. Her escort is Jacob De Los Reyes, son of Mr. Joey De Los Reyes and Mrs. Jackie De Los Reyes. Sarai is a senior at Saint Lucy Priory High School. She enjoys dancing, musical theatre and volunteer tutoring at Middle Tree Academy in Claremont. She is the Founder and President of the Black Student Union at her school. Sarai plans to double major in Business (Entrepreneurship) and Dance/Choreography at Howard University. Her dream is to establish a non-profit dance studio to help children in low economic areas to develop their love of the arts.
Miss Amari Lourie Allen
Amari is the daughter of Mrs. Loureva Slade and Mr. Shannon Slade. She is presented by her father, Mr. Shannon Slade. Her escort is Victor Bullock II, son of Mr. Victor Bullock, Sr. Amari is a senior at El Camino Real High School where she enjoys acting, reading and performing. Amari plans to study Psychology at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). She desires to be an actress or Criminal Psychologist.
Miss Alexandra Faith Burnett
Alexandra is the daughter of Mrs. Alicia Humphrey Burnett and Mr. Andrew Lawrence Burnett. She is presented by her father, Mr. Andrew Lawrence Burnett. Her escort is Zakhari Bobby Spears, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Spears, Jr. Alexandra, an honor roll student at Westmark School, has completed three college courses while still in high school. She is a volleyball four-year letterman and captain of the women’s volleyball team. Additionally, she is co-founder of the Black Student Union at her school. Alexandra plans to study Business and Early Education at Spelman College or North Carolina A and T.
Miss Kendall Dashawn Dennis
Kendall is the daughter of Mrs. Kenya Dashawn Dennis and Mr. Durshaun Lamar Dennis. She is presented by her father Mr. Durshaun Lamar Dennis. Her escort is Ethan G. Richardson, son of Mr. Al and Mrs. Catrina Richardson. Kendall is a senior at Ramon Cortines Visual & Performing Arts High School. She enjoys dancing and Pet Care. Kendall plans to attend Howard University to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. She later plans to pursue her interest in medicine.
Miss Kennedy Noelle Bernard
Kennedy is the daughter of Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander-Bernard and Mr. Kirk J. Bernard. She is presented by her father, Mr. Kirk J. Bernard. Her escort is Chase Chastang, son of Mr. Deron Taylor and Mrs. Alicia Chastang. Kennedy is a senior at Saint Bernard High School. As a member of Student Government, she serves on the campus ministry and Varsity Track, in addition to service as a Student Ambassador and as the Captain of Varsity Cheer. Her hobbies are art, photography, dancing and traveling. Kennedy plans to continue her work with the Apex Multispecialty Group. She also plans to attend an HBCU in the Fall to pursue a profession in Medicine.
Miss Samantha Chante Jackson
Samantha is the daughter of Dr. La Toya Morris and Dr. Samuel Jackson, III. She is presented by her Uncle, Mr. Nicolas Morris. Her escort is Jailen Mathis, son of Ms. Marina Mathis and grandfather Mr. Marvin Mathis. Samantha is a senior at Marymount High School. She plays soccer and she runs track. She enjoys dancing, acting, traveling and spending time with friends and family. Samantha plans to attend a 4-year university to major in dramatic and theater arts.
Miss Shelby Payton Glover
Shelby is the daughter of Mrs. Traci Glover and Mr. Jon-Rene Glover. She is presented by her father, Mr. Jon-Rene Glover. Her escort is Nicholas Richard Craven, son of Mr. Richard Craven and Dr. Leslie Richard. Shelby is a senior at Immaculate Heart High School. She serves on the yearbook team and enjoys basketball, and listening to music. Shelby plans to become a pre-med student at a four-year university.
Miss Courtney Simone Thomas
Courtney is the daughter of Mrs. Kathleen Thomas and Mr. Craig Thomas. She is presented by her father, Mr. Craig Thomas. Her escort is Ashton Vaughan Derrick Burnett, son of Mr. Derrick Burnett and Mrs. Allisson Burnett. Courtney is a senior at Crossroads School for the Arts & Sciences. She is the 7th in her family to be presented as a Los Angeles Links debutante. She enjoys, ceramics, photography, American Sign Language and spending time with her maltipoo, Kooper. Courtney loves volleyball and most recently won the prestigious coach’s award from Crossroads School’s Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team. Courtney plans to attend a 4-year university to double major in American Sign Language and Communicative Disorders.
Miss Sinclair Adeline Goodman-Ramos
Sinclair is the daughter of Mrs. Nicole Goodman-Ramos and Mr. Geno Ramos II. She is presented by her father, Mr. Geno Maurice Ramos II. Her escort is Marcellus Anthony Williams, son of Mr. Shaun Jamal Williams and Mrs. Constance Jenene Williams. Sinclair is a senior at New West Charter School. She is a member of the Black Student Union and the Yearbook staff. For the past four years, Sinclair volunteers at the Junior Blind Center at their annual summer camp. She has traveled to Ecuador to volunteer on community projects, and to Argentina for a study abroad program. A member of Jack and Jill, her hobbies and interests include cooking, painting and creating make-up design. Sinclair plans to attend an HBCU, preferably, Howard University to study political science.
Miss Jordan Nicole Murray
Jordan is the daughter of Mrs. Janice Jamison Murray and the Honorable Kevin G. Murray. She is presented by her father, The Honorable Kevin G. Murray. Her escort is Matthew Dylan King, son of Mr. Gregory King and Mrs. Monica Batts-King. Jordan is a senior at Harvard Westlake School where she is an Editor of the Arts & Entertainment section of the Chronicle, Vice-President of the Bel Canto, student Ambassador, and Peer Support Member. She is also a sixteen-year member of the Jack and Jill Chapter of Los Angeles. Jordan plans to attend a university to study journalism and international relations.
Miss Jazmin Amani Choyce
Jazmin is the daughter of Dr. Tina Choyce and Mr. Dwight Choyce. She is presented by her father, Mr. Dwight Choyce. Her escort is Mr. Gregory Evan Thomas, son of Mr. Gregory Thomas and Ms. Tiare Stevens. Jazmin is a senior at Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet High School. She is the Captain of the Varsity Basketball Team and serves as the Associated Student Body Treasurer. She also serves as a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and the California Scholarship Federation. She is a member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Jack and Jill of America. Jazmin enjoys traveling, playing sports, spending time with family and friends, as well as spending time with her pet dog, “Benz”. Jazmin plans to attend UCLA to pursue a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Miss Alyssa Jean Toepfner Wagner
Alyssa is the daughter of Mrs. Jacqueline Vernon Wagner and Mr. Peter Wagner. She is presented by her cousin, Mr. Douglas Vernon Scott. Her escort is Jacob Bryant, son of Mr. Jerard Bryant and Mrs. Ina Bryant. Alyssa is a senior at The Buckley School where she serves as the student body secretary, yearbook editor-in chief, senior chairman of the honor council and three-year captain of the girls’ varsity tennis team. Alyssa is passionate about all things academic, but microeconomics, Chinese, and government hold a special place in her heart. Alyssa plans to major in International Relations with a minor in economics, study abroad in Hangzhou, China and become a foreign service diplomat for the Department of State.
Miss Rachel Sinai Clinton
Rachel is the daughter of Mrs. Malissia Clinton and Mr. Ronald Clinton. She is presented by her father, Mr. Ronald Clinton. Her escort is William Davis, III, son of Mr. William Davis, Jr. and Ms. Alvianna Davis. Rachel is a senior at Mira Costa High School. She plays the violin and enjoys reading, walking her dog, coding websites and anything involving computer science. Rachel plans to study computer science and math in college while minoring in music. She hopes to open a non-profit organization that will allow her to combine her love for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, with her love for the arts.
Miss Zoe Savage-Schiller
Zoe is the daughter of Mrs. Barbara Savage. She is presented by her Uncle, Dr. Hubert Anthony Russell. Her escort is Jason Young, son of Mrs. Ann Marie Young. Zoe is a senior at Hollywood High School. She is the Associated Student body Vice President, President of the Thespian Club and Co-founder of the Friendship Club, which supports Students with Special Needs. She enjoys Environmental and Health Sciences, theater, dance and the fine arts. Zoe plans to major in Environmental Sciences and Theater. She hopes to study abroad in London and Paris. She looks forward to raising awareness of current social issues that at-risk and underserved communities face.
Miss Bianca Marie Brown
Bianca is the daughter of Ms Donna Marie Brown and Mr. Aceanyer Brown Jr. She is presented by her father, Mr. Aceanyer Brown Jr. Her escort is Tai Rutledge, son of Mr. Damon Rutledge and Ms. Robin Lewis. Bianca is a senior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. She enjoys dancing and modeling and is a member of the Debi Allen Dance Troupe. Bianca plans to study dance at the university of her choice. She aspires to become a professional dancer.
Miss Amali Christine Morgan
Amali is the daughter of Mrs. Stacey Evans Morgan and Mr. Dwight Douglas Morgan. She is presented by her father, Mr. Dwight Douglas Morgan. Her escort is Irving D. Norwood III, son of Mr. Irving Norwood and Mrs. Karen Norwood. Amali is a senior at Heritage Christian School in Northridge. She is a creative soul and video game enthusiast. She enjoys creating animation and illustration, traveling, performing arts, and singing with her school’s concert choir. In spring 2020, she will perform with the choir in Austria. Amali plans to attend the California Institute of the Arts where she will major in Digital Animation and Media Arts. Ultimately, she plans to create and produce animated content for television and film.
Miss Nia Imani Mosby
Nia is the daughter of Ms. Potesia Perry and Mr. Anthony Mosby. She is presented by her father, Mr. Anthony Mosby. Her escort is Quincy Smith Jr., son of Mr. Quincy Smith Sr. and Mrs. Aisha Andrews-Smith. Nia is a senior at Archer School for Girls. She enjoys track, and service on the math team, engineer team, robotics team and the diversity club board. She is also a member of the NAACP Youth Executive Council. She spends her free time tutoring the homeless. Nia has committed to Princeton University and plans to become an astrophysicist.
Miss Ayana Chanel Woods
Ayana is the daughter of Dr. Juanita Michelle Rainey Woods and Mr. Victor Woods . She is presented by her father, Mr. Victor Woods. Her escort is Terrell Placide, son of Mr. Ontson and Mrs. Lori Placide. Ayana is a senior at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. She is President/Founder of UCLA’s Vice Provost Initiative for Pre-College Scholars Program, editor of her school newspaper, and a member of the National Honor Society. She is also a member of Jack and Jill, Los Angeles Chapter. She enjoys volleyball, reading, writing, listening to music, traveling and being with family. Ayana can be heard on KJLH, the first Sunday of the month, at the 8 a.m. service of Second Baptist Church. Ayana plans to major in journalism and minor in African American Studies at a UC or HBCU.
After presentation of 26 exemplary cotillionettes would come other memorable moments embodied in the graceful execution of a series of waltzes which the debutantes performed during the evening. The waltzes were expertly choreographed by Ms. Terrica Banks, lead choreographer, featuring guest choreographer, Mr. Chris Smith. The debutantes made a presentation of gifts and long stem roses to their choreographers, event officers and to special guests including the National President of The Links, Incorporated.
As the evening progressed debutantes and guests dined to the melodious arrangements by strolling violinist, Mark Cargill. The formal evening ended at midnight. Following, the young debutantes and their escorts danced to the music of DJ Danno from Elite Entertainment as their friends and chaperones became mesmerized by the precision dance moves of the youth to the popular music genre of the day.
Over the past 67 years, the cotillion has been the culmination of a comprehensive program that embodies Los Angeles Chapter’s commitment to service and leadership development of youth. The Annual Cotillion is a ‘Rite of Passage’ opportunity for youth to develop lifelong friendships and strategies for next steps on the path to adulthood. For additional information, contact us at: lalinksinc.org