Published : Friday, December 7, 2018 | 5:54 AM
Two hundred people joined the Pasadena Chamber Board, community and civic leaders to honor Gerald Freeny, the first African-American president of the Tournament of Roses at the annual President’s Breakfast on Thursday morning, December 6th.
The event began with the seating of the Royal Court. Rose Princesses Lauren Baydaline, Ashley Hackett, Helen Rossi, Rucha Kadam, Sherry Ma, Micaela McElrath and Rose Queen Louise Siskel were escorted to their seats amid applause from attendees. Escorting the Royal Court were Chamber Board members Michael Gallego and John Leano, former Chamber Board presidents Dennis Buckley and George Falardeau and Chamber Ambassadors John Barrett, Tim Carruth and Scott May.
The Blair High School Junior ROTC posted colors for the Pledge of Allegiance. Chamber Member and former Tournament president Richard Chinen provided an inspirational invocation before breakfast was served.
Breakfast included a fruit and yogurt parfait, passed pastries and an entree of poached egg on grit cakes with hollandaise sauce and artisanal chicken sausage.
Interim Chair of the Chamber Board Justin Tsui of TeamLogic IT introduced Gerald Freeny, president of the Tournament of Roses for 2019.
Freeny is the first African-American to serve as president of the Tournament. He began Tournament service as a volunteer in 1988. He is a retired law enforcement professional. Freeny is also a cancer and organ transplant survivor whose community involvement has included serving as San Gabriel Valley chapter president of NOBLE (the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, service on the Pasadena Police Foundation Board, YMCA Board, Black Support Group for Cal State Los Angeles and involvement with Toastmasters, the Pasadena NAACP, the Urban League Board of Governors and the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation and its Rose Bowl Museum Committee.
Freeny grew up in the area and attended Pasadena Christian School and John Muir High School as well as CalState LA.
In his presentation, Freeny paid tribute to those previous Tournament leaders who helped the organization diversify and who paved the way for his presidency. He also explained how he and his family chose the theme for the 2019 Tournament of Roses, The Melody of Life, and the importance of music in his life and how important music, especially Jazz was to his battle with and recovery from cancer and surgery. He discussed the choice of Chaka Khan as Grand Marshall for the 2019 Rose Parade and some exciting additions to this year’s festivities.
Freeny made special note of the importance of his wife, Trina, in his life and how important her support was to his career, Tournament and community volunteerism and recovery from illness and surgery.
He also discussed the friendships and support he has found among Tournament volunteers and invited everyone to enjoy The Melody of Life this New Year’s Day.
Guests at the President’s Breakfast included Freeny’s wife Trina, Pasadena City Council Member Steve Madison, Fire Chief Bertral Washington, Interim Police Chief John Perez, Christian Daly, Field Representative for LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and Dominick Corey, Field representative for State Senator Anthony Portantino.
Mike Ross, CEO of the Pasadena Center Operating Company and Darryl Dunn, General Manager of the Rose Bowl also attended. Hollywood Burbank Airport CEO Frank Miller brought Glendale City Manager Yasmin Beers and Burbank City Manager Ron Davis.
Community members in attendance included Lena Kennedy and Jim Morris as well as Danny Bakewell, Jr. Kristina Smith, the first black Rose Queen, attended, as did Rita Pardue of Pasadena, who is Ms. Senior California.
Tournament of Roses Past Presidents Don Fedde, Corky Conzonaire, Richard Chinen, Sally Bixby, and Mike Matthiessen were on hand along with future Tournament Presidents Laura Farber, Bob Miller, Ed Morales, and Amy Wainscott, along with Tournament CEO David Eads.
Members of the Chamber Board of Directors attending, along with Justin Tsui, Michael David Gallego of Cheveux Hair and Makeup and John Leano of Bryan’s Cleaners and Laundry, were former Board Chair Robin McCarthy of Ste. Marie Specialists, Jesse Dillon of the Pasadena Independent and Beacon Media News, Nerissa Sugars of Hollywood Burbank Airport, Jeff Christoffel of Honda of Pasadena, Valerie Prince of First Choice Bank, Don Schweitzer of the Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer, Darryl Dunn and Bob Miller.
Business leaders attending included Michael Shanklin executive director of Kidspace Children’s Museum, Kelly White executive director of Villa Esperanza, Dianne Philobosian chair of the Pasadena Center Operating Company board, Ross Selvidge, board member of the Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena Airport Authority, Abel Ramirez, owner of El Portal Restaurant, Paul LeClerc, general manager of the Langham Huntington Hotel, Bill Ukropina of Colliers International, Blair Salisbury of El Cholo and Dr. Steve Sherman head of school at Maranatha High School.
Following his presentation, Freeny was presented with an engraved glass award from the Chamber in recognition of his service to the community and the Tournament of Roses. A brass version is presented to the Tournament for permanent display at Tournament House. Steve Madison presented Freeny with a recognition from the City of Pasadena commemorating his service as the first African-American president of the Tournament. Christian Daly and Dominick Corey presented commendations on behalf of Supervisor Barger and Senator Portantino along with recognitions from Congresswoman Judy Chu and State Assembly Member Chris Holden.
The Chamber is very grateful to Queen and Court Sponsors for the President’s Breakfast: Athens Services, AT&T, Hollywood Burbank Airport, the Pasadena Star-News/Southern California News Group, Pasadena Tournament of Roses and Wells Fargo. Corporate Table sponsors were: the CalState LA Foundation, PMRG, Republic Services, The Pasadena Independent/Beacon Media News and the Pasadena Center Operating Company.