Leadership Dinner Celebrates Blair Loyalty & Philanthropy
Joanne Miceli


The School honored more than a dozen generous benefactors at the 2017 Leadership Dinner, held April 28 in the Romano Dining Hall. Head of School Chris Fortunato welcomed 140 guests to the event, including Trustees, alumni, parents, faculty and friends of the School. "Your support of Blair, and, even more, your belief in our School, is inspirational," he said. "We are delighted to demonstrate our gratitude this evening."

Students played a number of special roles throughout the Leadership Dinner festivities: Pianists and string musicians provided musical interludes during cocktail hour at Sharpe House and as guests entered the dining hall; recipients of named scholarships hosted their scholarship donors at dinner; and Hannah Ochtera '17 and Alec Valle '18 each spoke movingly about what the School means to them and thanked those who had made their Blair experiences possible.

Mr. Fortunato accorded recognition to the evening's honorees, noting their many contributions to the School. In gratitude for their philanthropy and devotion to Blair, a print of the iconic Blair Arch was presented to Mrs. Valerie A. Besthoff P'10 '17; Mr. Olin A. Cramer P'72 '75; Mr. and Mrs. Craig U. Dana Sr. '60, P'87 '92; Mr. Worthing F. Jackman P'20; Mr. Andrew Jeffries and Mrs. Annabel Vartanian Jeffries '96; Mr. and Mrs. Mike Kahn; Mr. Zheng Yao Lu and Mrs. Li Chun Guo P'20; Mr. and Mrs. Brian P. Riano P'20; Mr. and Mrs. George T. Stern '39, P'73 '76; and Ms. Hong Xu P'19.

Mr. Fortunato also announced that Mr. Richard K. Orr '48 and his wife, Setsuko, had been inducted posthumously into the John C. Bogle '47 Circle of Benefactors, an honor that acknowledges extraordinary dedication to Blair Academy. Mr. and Mrs. Orr, who passed away in 2013 and 2011, respectively, donated the bulk of their estates to Blair to establish the Orr Scholars Program, a named scholarship program that gives promising young men and women of many backgrounds the priceless opportunity of a Blair education.

Former Chair of the Blair Board of Trustees James P. Jenkins '66 was the final honoree of the evening—he received a standing ovation as his official Blair portrait was unveiled. Mr. Jenkins has been a Blair Trustee since 1992 and served as Board Chair from 2006 to 2013, following in the footsteps of his father, George P. Jenkins '32, who served as Board Chair from 1978 to 1986. Current Board Chair Doug Kimmelman P'12 '13 '15, lauded Mr. Jenkins' for his longstanding, selfless service to his alma mater.

Mr. Jenkins' portrait was unveiled by this year's recipients of the Class of 1966 Scholarship and the George P. Jenkins '32 Scholarship, two scholarships that Mr. Jenkins has generously supported. The painting now hangs in the gallery outside Armstrong-Hipkins' Center for the Arts' DuBois Theatre, alongside portraits of Chairman Emeritus J. Brooks Hoffman '36, Chairman Emeritus John C. Bogle '47 and Mr. Jenkins' father.

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