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Transforming Lives, Changing the World

Last month our community joined together for another phenomenal Transforming Lives Dinner. This treasured annual event is an opportunity to celebrate the transformative power of an O’Dowd education and raise mission critical funds for tuition assistance. While guests enjoyed the company of new and old friends, exquisite cuisine, and inspiring student performances, they joined in the greater purpose of supporting students who need a financial bridge to attend O’Dowd, for whom the school provides $4M annually in tuition assistance.

Guests entering the Knauss Gymnasium found themselves in a transformed space. The walls and ceilings shimmered with gold swirling light, while gorgeous red and orange blooms graced every table.

TLD 2023

Parents and former parents, alumni, faculty and staff mingled around intimate cocktail rounds, enjoying the classical performance of O’Dowd’s string orchestra and finding delight with a roving magician, who performed amazing card tricks and slights of hand, bringing another unique form of magic to the event.

As guests took their seats for dinner, the soaring notes of a violin floated through the space. Isaiah Iny-Woods '24, who is currently first violinist in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, played Salut d'Amour, Op. 12 by Edward Elgar. “O’Dowd has given me opportunities to perform, record, and learn the basics of conducting, which is really enriching,” Isaiah says. “I love spreading joy through music in the community.”

Isaiah Iny-Woods '24

Throughout the evening, current parents got to know each other, former parents reconnected, and students, alumni, faculty and staff laughed together, sharing their favorite moments on campus – all while coming together to support the mission and students of O’Dowd.

Guests at TLD 2023
Food at TLD 2023

“This school is a place where passion, innovation, and dedication flourish,” said President Kim Walsh, speaking from the podium. “We have seen time and again how the once small ideas we had on this campus can transform into national models, influencing generations of students to build a more just, joyful and sustainable world.”

Student speakers, Christian Colbert ’24 and Lucia Lanieki ’24, each shared powerful stories of how they have been transformed by their O’Dowd education. The deep purpose of the event - to provide tuition assistance to support O’Dowd students - radiated throughout the room. “O’Dowd is a school where you can develop your unique identity in a family of students, faculty and staff who support you through the whole journey,” Christian said, smiling before the audience.

Transforming Lives Dinner, student speakers Christian Colbert ’24 and Lucia Lanieki ’24
Transforming Lives Dinner, student speakers Christian Colbert ’24 and Lucia Lanieki ’24

“At O’Dowd I’ve learned so much about collaboration and responsibility,” Lucia shared. “I’ve become more confident. Now I want to bring my passion to college. I hope to become a local politician.”

Following dinner, alumni and award-winning emcee Dwight Taylor ’00 led an energetic paddle raise. His personal story sharing how O’Dowd impacted his life and journey was tremendously inspiring for the audience, who together gave $560,000 for O’Dowd students. This generous community support ensures that we can continue providing a financial bridge to as many families as possible, while sustaining the socio-economically diverse student community that makes O’Dowd so special.

“Tonight was pure magic,” said Maisha Wilson, parent, event co-chair, and Board of Regents member. “It was such a beautiful event, with so many lovely touches. It was wonderful to connect with so many different families, and to know that we’re giving to such an extraordinary cause.”

Standing in a pool of shining Dragon yellow light, President Kim Walsh thanked the crowd of 250 parents, former parents, alumni, faculty and staff. “I am truly humbled by the generosity of this community,’ she said. “The love and care that you have for our students is palpable, and so inspiring. Thank you for supporting O’Dowd to serve our students. Thank you for your commitment.”

We are deeply grateful for the unwavering dedication of our Transforming Lives Committee, led by co-chairs Mary Gregory & Josh Glidden, Kellie & Darrell Jackson, and Maisha & Anthony Wilson, who worked tirelessly to coordinate and support this wonderful event.

Bravo, O’Dowd!


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