The Hollywood Reporter, Top Female Execs Celebrate Mentorship Program

Vandalena Mahoney Cara Tripicchio - H 2015
Getty Images

Vandalena Mahoney Cara Tripicchio - H 2015

WME's Nancy Josephson, Lionsgate's Sandra Stern and Sue Naegle were among the industry leaders that attended the intimate dinner at Spago.

A handful of Hollywood's most powerful women joined forces Tuesday evening in honor of The Hollywood Reporter's mentorship program, presented by Net-a-Porter.

WME's Nancy Josephson, Lionsgate's Sandra Stern and independent producer Sue Naegle were among the industry's top executives and dealmakers who attended the intimate al fresco dinner at Spago in Beverly Hills, Calif. 

Hosted by Guggenheim Media's Entertainment Group's co-president and chief creative officer Janice Min, THR’s features executive editor Stephen Galloway and Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles' president and CEO Tiffany Siart, the gathering marked the second annual event honoring the program, which pairs teen girls from some of L.A.'s toughest high schools with leading women in the industry.

"It's so nice to go to an event in town here where no one is trying to win an award, and we get to honor people who do really incredible things," joked Min from the podium, before paying special thanks to Galloway, who started the program in 2009. "Tonight is our opportunity to thank the women and the girls who participate in the program."

The evening saw past and present mentors mingle with one another, including ICM's Michelle Suess, NBCUniversal's Beth Roberts, Fox's Nicole Bernard and Disney's Ryan Stankevich. But the highlight of the night was when Shelter PR's Cara Tripicchio — who boasts an impressive roster of clients that includes Steve Carell, Jason Bateman and Shailene Woodley — took the stage with her standout mentee, Vandalena Mahoney.

"I can recall so many milestones in my career as a publicist, but this has always been an achievement," she said before introducing Mahoney, who is now a freshman at Tripicchio's alma mater, Loyola Marymount University. The two developed such a close-knit relationship through the program that Mahoney thinks of her mentor as "family," and Tripicchio even joked about the pair occasionally attending SoulCycle classes together.

Net-a-Porter's Sarah Rutson then surprised Mahoney with a $25,000 scholarship toward her college tuition on behalf of the luxury e-tailer company, which sponsored the event. The gift left the communications major speechless. "I don't know what to say," she uttered as she teared up. "Thank you. That's all I can say to you."

Earlier in the evening, The Butler producer Pam Williams and her mentee Maria Luisa Ballon shared their experience in the program. "I was recruited in an unconventional way," Williams laughed. "Stephen came up to me at [THR’s 2013] producer roundtable and said, 'I have the most amazing, wonderful young woman who should be a part of this program, but she doesn’t have a mentor.' "

Of course, Williams agreed to fill the void, and now Ballon is a film production major at USC with hopes of becoming a visual effects artist someday. Added the college student, "I never thought that I would be working in the entertainment industry, but this program has opened my eyes to new careers that I wouldn't have imagined."

Guests sat outside Spago’s courtyard and finished off the evening by dining on striped bass with cauliflower and capers, pan-roasted jidori chicken with golden raisins and pine nuts and caramelized apple mille-feuille for dessert.