The Celebration luncheon brings together community leaders and committed supporters of our services on the SafePlace Campus for a moving and uplifting midday event. It features a keynote speaker, who is a survivor, and the presentation of the annual Guardian Award to an individual or organization that has made supporting our work part of their own mission. Now in its 11th year, the event raises more than $330,000 in support of programs and services on the SafePlace Campus.
Our 2017 Celebration Co-Chairs, Felicia and Craig Hester, are recognized community leaders who both have deep roots with The SAFE Alliance and its SafePlace Campus. Felicia is a member of the SAFE Board of Directors, the SAFE Foundation Board, the SAFE Development Council (past Chair), and currently chairs the SAFE Program Committee. Craig has also given countless hours to SafePlace* over the years by donating his time in consulting and financial advising. A Principal, Vice President, and Portfolio Manager at Luther King Capital Management, Craig has also served as a past Chair and Trustee of the SafePlace Foundation Board.
*Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace merged in 2017 to form SAFE.
2017 Guardian Award Honorees
The Guardian Award is presented by SAFE to an individual or organization with an outstanding commitment to ending domestic violence and sexual violence and abuse.
James C. Armstrong and Larry Connelly
James C. Armstrong is a native Texan and a graduate of Texas Christian University. Mr. Armstrong has served on a number of boards, including the New York City Opera and the Houston Grand Opera. He is a founding Board Member of Austin Lyric Opera and also established the Armstrong Community Music School. A long-time supporter of The UT College of Fine Arts, Austin Symphony Orchestra, and ZACH Theatre, Mr. Armstrong’s leadership gift created the Armstrong Family Auditorium at ZACH.
Larry Connelly is a native of Minnesota and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Texas State University, and The University of Texas. As an educator for over 20 years, Mr. Connelly was a teacher in Houston and Austin, as well as a Principal in Round Rock. He currently serves as a Board Member for ZACH Theatre and previously served on the boards of the Austin Museum of Art, the Butler Opera Center at UT, and the Austin Anti-Defamation League.
Together, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Connelly support a number of institutions benefiting Central Texans. Housing, Healing, and Support Services on the SafePlace Campus, Hospice Austin, Project Transitions, AIDS Services of Austin, the Center for Child Protection, Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, Austin Habitat for Humanity, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, and Ballet Austin are all grateful for their generosity. Mr. Armstrong co-chaired and was the presenting co-sponsor of Celebration for many years with his dear friend Patti O’Meara. The SafePlace Campus better serves our community thanks to Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Connelly’s leadership and commitment to social change.