Environmental Gala Hosted by Tony and Jeanne Pritzker

UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES) raised more than half a million dollars at a star-studded kick-off event for its new fundraising drive, which is aimed at broadening and deepening the institute's already considerable impact. Donors contributed more than $500,000 to IoES as part of the institute's March 15 inaugural gala, "An Evening of Environmental Excellence," which was hosted by IoES board chairman Tony Pritzker and his wife, Jeanne, at their mansion in the Bel-Air hills. Tony Pritzker and IoES board member Tina Quinn co-chaired the event.

Approximately 300 donors, IoES faculty and environmentally-minded celebrities enjoyed cocktails and dinner at the Pritzker's architecturally stunning new home, which offers panoramic views from downtown to the Santa Monica Bay and has a hefty 72 kilowatts of solar power, geothermal cooling, and state-of-the-art energy-efficient lighting and climate control.

Guests included movie star Owen Wilson; music producer Quincy Jones; indie singer Lana Del Rey; IoES board member Lawrence Bender, who produced "Pulp Fiction" and "An Inconvenient Truth"; actor and musician Jared Leto; and many more.

Politicians, including former California Gov. Gray Davis, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, state Sen. Fran Pavley, and former California Environmental Protection Agency secretary Terry Tamminen also attended, alongside California Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols and members of advisory boards related to IoES.

The institute's director, Glen MacDonald, thanked the many donors in the audience.

"Your generous support enables us to continue to expand our academic offerings, broaden our scientific efforts and host a variety of public programs," he said. "Despite economic hardship to the state and the university, the institute is growing and developing real solutions to the environment and sustainability challenges we face at our global home."

The event also featured an awards ceremony, at which the institute honored Dan Emmett, who, among his many green accomplishments, is a founding member of Santa Monica Baykeeper and a founding board member of the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at the UCLA School of Law. The Southern California Edison energy company was also honored for their environmental philanthropy, energy conservation and early use of renewable energy.

"Both Dan Emmett and Southern California Edison have been truly transformative in their vision and support for building a healthy environment and a sustainable future for California," MacDonald said.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block was also on hand to help kick off the fundraising drive.

"I'm pleased to announce the launch of a fundraising drive that will help to build the scope and effectiveness of the institute," Block said. "No place on earth is better positioned than the Los Angeles area to address a raft of vexing environmental challenges and to provide a model for the road ahead."

"UCLA is educating and training the next generation of environmental scientists, policymakers and problem-solvers that the world so sorely needs," Tony Pritzker said.