For those of us who can’t make it to Paris this April, Chicago’s Alliance Française Woman’s Board will be bringing the tastes of France to us. On May 10, a Red Carpet at the Monte Carlo Casino gala will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago to support the Alliance Française—a preeminent institution of French and francophone culture in Chicago.
Gala co-chairs Lisa Bailey and Veronique Bushala, along with honorary co-chair Betsey Pinkert, will ensure guests feel like celebrities as they walk the glamorous red carpet to enter the casino, where they can challenge the croupier at a game of roulette, baccarat, trente et quarante, and more.
“Net proceeds from the gala will help support overall operations for the next two years,” says Stacy Lou Lorin, formerly of Hinsdale and new member of the Woman’s Board. “The money raised will also support the Alliance’s Educational Outreach Program, an after-school immersion that provides rich language and French cultural exchange for students in six area high schools.” This program brings inner city students to the Alliance Française for after-school French instruction and grants scholarships for immersion trips to France and Concordia Language Villages—in direct support of the Alliance’s mission to bring French language, culture, and educational opportunities to Chicago.
All these programs are close to Stacy’s heart—and for good reason. At just 13 years old, Stacy visited France and instantly fell in love with its rich culture and heritage. She eventually married a Frenchman and is currently raising her children to speak French and English in the home. “Our children are bilingual, so it seemed natural to enroll in the Lycée Français de Chicago,” explains Stacy of the private coeducational day school, offering a dual French and English curriculum from Pre-K through 12th grade in the city. “My children being half French, I wanted to get involved with an organization that would help promote the multicultural environment of their daily lives.”
Not only has she immersed her children in the Lycée, Stacy has engrossed herself as well. “I have been involved with the Lycée community alongside some of the same people that eventually invited me to join Alliance.” This year, Stacy says she hopes the board will raise $750,000 to help maintain the 117-year-old organization’s French language classes, cultural programs, and actively circulated library of more than 14,000 volumes.
“Statistics reveal that the number of people in the world who speak French as their native language will grow exponentially in the coming years,” Stacy explains. “Since the United States hopes to compete in the global economy, we must train our young people to be fluent in foreign languages and how to interact with foreign cultures.”
Among other responsibilities, Stacy is helping coordinate the floral arrangements for the gala. “HMR Designs will be doing the flowers,” Stacy offers. “Since the event has a Mediterranean feel, HMR will incorporate palm trees and the tropical flowers you might see while strolling along the Mediterranean in Monaco. It will be a luxurious night on the red carpet. The elegant evening offers something for everyone, including the glamour of Monte Carlo, the excitement of the Cannes Film Festival, the thrill of casino gaming, and the allure of the French Riviera.”
To purchase tickets to the Red Carpet at the Monte Carlo Casino event, contact Tom Driscoll, gala coordinator, at 312-337-1070, ext. 113, or visit af-chicago.org.
-Rosie Conway // Photography by Joel Lerner