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The Valley Line: Starting 2014 with a reconnection; defense attorney Mark Geragos keynotes at Oakmont League meeting

January 29, 2014|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Chris Halajian, left, president of Oakmont League of Glendale, greets noted defense attorney Mark Geragos and League program director Lynn Dittrick. Geragos, La Canada Flintridge resident, was the keynote speaker at a recent League meeting.
Chris Halajian, left, president of Oakmont League of… (By Jane Napier Neely )

All aboard! This New Year's train is leaving the station and chugging into February with a carload of hearts and flowers.

There was one more televised award show to tide me over until the Academy Awards airs on March 2. It was the music industry's evening to shine this past Sunday night.

The Grammy extravaganza is always fun with a lot of surprises, be it the voluminous gowns to hardly any clothes at all or edgy musical performances to traditional. Pink swung from the rafters in a tiny costume, singing the entire time. And then there was that silent French duo Daft Punk, incognito in their signature tuxedos and robot helmets, who were winners of multiple Grammys. My, my, you just never know what is going to happen next.

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I greeted this new year with a reconnection with an old friend, Jan Du Plain. She grew up here in La Cañada and is the daughter of the late Joe Du Plain, who was the owner and publisher of the Valley Sun for 40 years.

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The facilitator of our reconnection was Julie Battaglia, another well-known La Cañadan. Julie met up with Jan in a workshop in Charleston, S.C., during the prestigious "by invitation only" Renaissance Institute New Year's weekend. This event was founded in 1981 by Phillip Lader, who once served as the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James, and his wife, Linda LeSourd Lader. The Laders host four such weekends each year.

These events are designed to build bridges among innovative leaders of all ages, with exceptionally diverse perspectives. Unusually candid, the programs are always provocative, fueled by a unique interaction of thought-leaders, trendsetters and authorities.

The weekend attracts chief executive officers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, artists, educators, scientists, astronauts, Olympians, judges, diplomats, social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, change-makers of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street, Main Street, professors, priests, Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Jan, who has often attended the weekends, told me she was dumbfounded when she saw Julie's name badge that said she was from La Cañada. "Nobody knows where La Cañada is so I was so excited to discover a neighbor and kindred spirit in the public relations business," she said.

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