By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
Anniversaries make for great parties. Yes, they certainly rejoice the togetherness of the people celebrating the milestone. But they also create a seamless sense of family. Anniversary parties bring out familiar faces from the past, mingle with the present, and extend open arms toward the future.
We at Big Thought recently feted two very important women to the past, present and future of this organization – Gigi Antoni and Sally Hartman. Antoni, our Big Thought President and CEO, and Hartman, our Board Administrator, celebrated 25 years of service during a lively and well-attended gathering Thursday, June 2, 2016 at the Big Thought headquarters.
The occasion brought out 76 guests, including past board members and former staffers, as well as the honorees themselves, of course. We also had the privilege of seeing Mitch Jericho, 94 years young. Jericho co-founded Young Audiences of North Texas in 1987, which became Big Thought in 2004. She also hired Antoni back in 1991. Her presence was inspirational.
So was recounting the many ways that Antoni and Hartman brought Big Thought into the present, making it one of the most recognized and respected educational nonprofit organizations in the country.
“That dynamic duo worked so well and launched this new era of Big Thought that we have today,” said Melissa McNeil, event co-chair, during a presentation.
Larry Whitt, also an event co-chair, referred to Hartman and Antoni as Academy Award winners. He named Hartman best supporting actress and Antoni best director. By the time Antoni and Hartman got up to speak, emotions were jubilant.
“As I said on my 15th anniversary, I have no plans to retire,” said Hartman, who has endured cancer and deaths of loved ones while at Big Thought. “Big Thought has supported me like a true family. I told Gigi one time that I’m going to be the first 90-year-old Big Thought receptionist. She rolled her eyes and said, ‘Oh good.’”
Antoni immediately thanked everybody in the room, and offered heartfelt words about Big Thought’s lasting impact. “You were the people that helped me find my way in the world and the mission for my life,” said Antoni. “I am surrounded every day by like minded people with such passion. That is a tremendous honor.”
See below for a comprehensive list of the guests at the 25th anniversary celebration of Big Thought’s Gigi Antoni and Sally Hartman.
Guests of Honor: Gigi Antoni and Sally Hartman.
Special Guest: Mitch Jericho, co-founder of Young Audiences of North Texas and Big Thought Board Alum.
Event Co-Chairs: Melissa McNeil and Larry Whitt.
Event Team: Jessica Malek, Kathy Everitt, Laurel Hoitsma, and Anne Leary.
Big Thought Board Members: Bill Albers, Eric Brewer, Jennifer Chandler, Catherine Corrigan, Shaun Dowling, Steven Gendler, Randee Paur Hefflefinger, Irene Hosford, Jeanette Johnson, Pat Porter, Ketric Sanford, Ginger Sager, and Bill Siegel.
Big Thought Board Alumni: Maura Wright Conley, Emily Corrigan (with husband David R. Corrigan), Phil Dettle, Ruben Esquivel, Jeanne Fagadau, Paul Leslie, Michael Meadows, Harold Montgomery, Barbara Nichols, Sonya Odell, Connie Petticrew, Tracey Roach, Martha Smither, Norma Stone (with husband Don Stone), Saul Torres, and Jim Welch.
Big Thought Staff: James Adams, LeAnn Binford, Mary Hernandez, Pholesha Johnson, Linda Matthews, Greg McPherson, Erin Offord, Laura Orange, Dolores Raivzee-Bell, Lisa Schmidt, Jose Sosa, Aleta Stampley, Mario Tarradell, Karim Virani,
Big Thought Former Staffers: Patti Edwards, Abbie Kopf, LeeAnn Le Goff, Daniel Morgan, Brenda Snitzer, Jennifer Torres, Susan Underwood, and Nancy Webb.
Guests of Gigi Antoni: Dana Mullen and Analise Mullen.
Guests of Sally Hartman: Molly Behannon, Teresa Daniels, Melissa Couture, Melinda Eitzen, Matthew Eitzen, Cindy Funderburgh, David Funderburgh, Max Hartman, Pat Kelly, Chris Kelly, Terry King, Cora Mason, and Harry Mason.