A charitable organization nurtured for nearly three decades by the home entertainment industry is getting a wider mission and a new name.
The Entertainment AIDS Alliance (EAA) is changing its name to the Entertainment Aid Alliance to signify its expansion into other charitable endeavors.
The organization has also gotten some new leadership, including EAA president Jordan von Haslow, who took over the position in January from longtime president Sue Procko. Von Haslow, whose daytime job is producer, is leveraging his experience in executive recruitment at Time Warner and Sony Pictures to grow the EAA.
“One of my many mandates this year is to expand our mission and scale the organization,” von Haslow said.
To that end, the EAA is establishing a new fund, the Maria La Magra and Heather Hinkel Fund, to benefit cancer patients, to accompany the existing Marc Berman Fund, which benefits AIDS and HIV sufferers. La Magra and Hinkel passed away in recent years and were both active members of the EAA. Berman, a Variety and video industry trade writer who died from the effects of AIDS in 1993, galvanized the organization’s founding in 1989 as the Video Industry AIDS Action Committee or VIAAC before it became the EAA.
Likewise, the EAA plans to retool its annual “Wine, Wisdom and Vision” event, taking place June 21 in Hollywood.
“Wine, Wisdom and Vision is our largest event of the year,” von Haslow said.
The EAA will host the event in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel lobby and the adjacent Teddy’s Lounge, evoking an “Old Hollywood” vibe, von Haslow said. The Roosevelt Hotel was the site of the first Academy Awards in 1929 and has hosted many famous stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift and Errol Flynn.
“We want everyone mingling, we want everyone networking and, of course, we want everyone donating,” von Haslow said.
Sponsor Magic Castle Inc. is supplying a cadre of magicians who will be walking among the crowd, performing tricks. Also, magician Dale Hindman will perform. DJ Richie Rich (“Lip Sync Battle”) will perform and the rock band The Mowgli’s will headline.
The EAA will honor actor Michael Kearns with it Visionary Award during the event, which will benefit both EAA funds.
The board of the EAA has also undergone a bit of a transformation. Longtime members Jeff Jenest and Vallery Kountze have passed the baton, along with Procko. Current board members include VP Eugenio De Caprio, treasurer John Bailey, secretary Deborah Speckman and board member at large Evie Cowan.
“There has been an enormous amount of positive change,” von Haslow noted.
After nearly 30 years, it is perhaps not surprising that new leadership is taking over from volunteers who have “been with the board for a very long time,” he said.
“It’s a period of renewal,” he said. “My goal as president is not only to expand our mission and scale our organization, but also to actively recruit new talent.”
The EAA has brought on board a social media coordinator, and for the first time, is building a database of volunteers, sponsors, donors and other contacts. Previously, much of this information was dispersed among the various EAA volunteers, on spread sheets, in boxes and on pieces of paper.
“The immediate need to centralize our information became glaringly apparent with Heather [Hinkel] passing away [last year],” he said. “She, in many ways, was integral in maintaining the relationships we have built over the last 29 years. She was the center of this information and the glue.”
It’s now time for the EAA to plan for the future, von Haslow said.
“Historically, we’ve been a grass roots organization, established by a group of friends and colleagues who wanted to make a positive impact,” he said. “As we move forward, the goal is to add more structure to our operation and implement best practices so that those new to the EAA can seamlessly transition into their role.”
While taking steps to modernize, von Haslow admires the commitment of those who formed an organization that has lasted for nearly 30 years.
“That’s no easy feat — the fact that so many people who were with the organization stayed around for so long,” he said. “The line of our DNA has been consistent.”
In addition to the Wine, Wisdom and Vision event, the EAA will continue the annual home media sale at the end of the year, which offers discounted discs for stocking stuffers. The EAA will also sponsor smaller, bingo events at “Hamburger Mary’s” in West Hollywood, featuring drag queen and celebrity callers, in July and October.
“Next year is the 30th anniversary of our founding. We’re planning to celebrate more spectacularly than ever before. Stay tuned,” von Haslow said.
Learn more about and buy tickets for Wine, Wisdom and Vision 2018 here.