Dinner With a Cause 2018

Every woman housed.

Shop MADE for the Holidays

Nearly 500 supporters joined us on October 18, 2018 for our Dinner With a Cause event! We celebrated Downtown Women's Center’s 40-year history of providing vital programs and services to end women's homelessness in Los Angeles.

Emcee Natasha Rothwell spent her birthday with us, serving up plenty of funny and heartfelt moments. Congresswoman Maxine Waters inspired us with her presence and fiery speech. Our participant speaker, Ericka Newsome, touched hearts and opened minds with her story about overcoming homelessness.

Congrats to our amazing honorees: Councilmember José  Huizar and Richelle Huizar, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, and Sondra Salas. Thank you to our individual and corporate supporters who helped make the event so memorable, particularly presenting sponsor Anthem Blue Cross.

Dinner With a Cause 2018 - Collage 1
Dinner With a Cause 2018 - 2

2018 Dinner With a Cause Sponsors



Marylouise Oates and Robert Shrum

Rachel Capoccia and Les Hairrell

Katherine Forster & Gillian Forster

Herb & Heather Rim

Supervisor Hilda Solis

Bonnie Sun

Terri Murray

Joanna Adler



Brookfield Properties

Green Hasson Janks / Donella Wilson and Peter Barnett

Leah & Sam Fischer

Kaitlyn Murphy

Lynn Hall Russell and L. Michael Russell

Payden & Rygel


2018 Dinner With a Cause Emcee


Natasha Rothwell is currently a series regular and co-producer on Issa Rae's Peabody Award winning HBO series Insecure. Concurrently, she is developing an original idea for HBO which she will executive produce, write and star in. Natasha wrote and stars in Netflix Presents: The Characters, an original sketch series which premiered in 2016 and before that she wrote for Saturday Night Live. Natasha can be seen in the upcoming the groundbreaking hit film Love, Simon— an adaption of the YA novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, directed by Greg Berlanti. In addition to being an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List,, Natasha resists this current administration by volunteering at the Downtown Women’s Center and supporting the HRC, ACLU, SPLC and RAINN. In addition, Natasha continues to be a staunch advocate for the arts and arts education— having worked with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, KIPP NYC College Prep High School, Arena Stage, Los Angeles Public Libraries, The Young Storytellers and The Story Pirates.

Photo credit: Sydney Lowe

2018 Dinner With a Cause Honorees



Los Angeles Councilmember José Huizar was elected to the City Council’s 14th District in 2005 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2007, 2011 and, in what will be his final term, 2015. Councilmember Huizar has been fearless in creating policies that are moving the City of Los Angeles forward. He championed successful efforts to address homelessness and the affordable housing crisis, protect the environment, increase park space, advance innovative transportation policies, and revitalize Downtown Los Angeles. He has fought to bring new resources to the communities he represents, including Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Northeast Los Angeles and Downtown Los Angeles.

In his zest to assist those in need, Councilmember Huizar helped establish the City’s first-ever committee on Homelessness and as chair of the committee co-authored and adopted the City’s first ever Comprehensive Strategic Plan to Combat Homelessness. In implementing the Plan, Councilmember Huizar was one of the architects and leaders in the campaign to adopt the voter-approved Measure HHH, which will provide $1.2 billion over 10 years to build 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing.

As a strong proponent for economic development and creating cultural destination points, Councilmember Huizar has steadfastly helped revitalize Downtown Los Angeles by increasing and reimagining its public spaces and promoting its economic and residential growth. Through his 10-year Bringing Back Broadway initiative, Councilmember Huizar assisted in the historical preservation of the beautiful corridor, reinvigorated 6 of its 12 historic theaters, and has created a framework to bring the beloved Streetcar back to the City of Los Angeles.

Councilmember Huizar has been awarded numerous awards and distinctions, including profiles by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the 25 figures in the Los Angeles Area that “stand out for their potential to shape lives” and by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the “100 most influential Hispanics” in the United States.

Richelle Rae Huizar is a long-time advocate for children, youth and families.  She has utilized her legal skills for more than 20 years to improve the lives of young people and the communities they live in.

Richelle currently works as a consultant for Vanderford and Ruiz, a mid-sized law firm in Pasadena, California.  Previously, Richelle worked as the Development Director for Bishop Mora Salesian College Preparatory, a Catholic high school in the Boyle Heights community of Los Angeles. Richelle also created and implemented children and family policy for the City of Los Angeles for more than ten years. Prior to her position with the City of Los Angeles, Richelle had a private law practice focused on adoption, guardianship and family law matters.

Richelle has been awarded the Justice Cruz Reynoso Award by the Mexican American Bar Association, the Visionary Award by the National Latina Alliance, and the Inaugural Leadership Award by the Latina Public Service Academy. She earned her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law.

Richelle currently resides in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles with her husband Jose, son Simon Luis, and daughters Emilia Rae, Isabella Rose and Aviana Rose.



Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC (an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association) promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves.

The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation.

The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges. Anthem has provided programmatic support to DWC for the past decade. Alma Graham, Senior Associate General Counsel at Anthem, currently sits on DWC’s Board of Directors.



Sondra Salas is the Senior Event Operations Manager with Universal Studios Hollywood. She is a Universal Studios Hollywood Club 52 member (Universal Volunteers who volunteer a minimum of 52 hours per calendar year) and was selected as the 2010 Universal Studios Hollywood Volunteer of the Year for her commitment to Universal’s community events and Downtown Women’s Center (DWC).

Sondra began her relationship with DWC in 2009 by volunteering for cooking clubs; by 2010 she was volunteering with the DWC Birthday Guild. In 2011, she was asked by DWC to run her own monthly program, Whole Woman Saturdays. Whole Woman Saturdays is a monthly workshop connecting volunteers and DWC residents and participants. Workshops have included topics such as The Power of a Letter: Forgiving and Letting Go, Dress for Success and Career Builder Workshop, Meditation and Stretching, Gratitude is an Attitude, Pay Yourself First! Talking Finances with Robert Hsu, and Kick the Grrr Out of Anger: Lessons in Healthy Communication and Conflict Resolution.

Once Whole Woman Saturdays was operational, Sondra enlisted her company’s efforts. Universal Studios Hollywood Discover a Star Grants and employee volunteers support the workshops. By the end of 2018, Sondra will have hosted 100+ Whole Woman Saturdays workshops and field trips. Sondra volunteers at DWC because she believes that we are all connected. She wants to empower diverse and underserved women with education and resources to help end the cycle of homelessness.