top of page

Preface Raises Over $21,000 to Support Equality Through Education at 2021 Spring Benefit Gala

Members of the Preface Leadership team gather for a photo before the start of Preface's 2021 Spring Benefit Gala in Chattanooga, TN. (L-R) Olabode Adunbarin (Chief Development Officer), Hayes Vaughan, Heather Phillips (Director of Educational Standards), Antigone "Tiggy" Valen (Chief Financial & Innovation Officer), Jonathan "JT" Wu (Founder & Executive Director), Mary Helen deGolian (Chief Records Officer), Kelly Hagan, USN LT David Via (Chief Operational Liaison), & Haley Via


CHATTANOOGA, TN– On April 17, 2021, Preface held its Inaugural Spring Benefit Gala, presented by Earth Baby, in their wonderful partner community of Chattanooga, Tennessee. In spite of lingering challenges posed by an unprecedented global pandemic, Preface shattered their fundraising goal by 330% – raising over $21,000 in funds and resources to empower the next generation.

"It was truly special to be able to bring folks together in celebration of the amazing work Preface is doing in our partner community of Chattanooga, TN - and all across America. Our socially distant evening of impact was the perfect way to highlight the incredible spirits of service and innovation shown by our partners and Ambassadors at East Lake Elementary, the McCallie School, and so many other community partners across Hamilton County,” said Jonathan “JT” Wu, Preface’s Founder & Executive Director.

Preface’s Spring Gala was a socially distant yet astoundingly impactful evening to remember. Hosted at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, attendees utilized masks and adhered to safety precautions while enjoying dancing, live music, and a seated three-course meal in a safe and socially-distant environment. Glorious Glow Candle Co. specially created hand-poured soy candles to be given out to attendees – with an exclusive scent created just for the Spring Gala: a blend of lavender, vanilla and sandalwood named “Relaxing Read.” Additionally, all guests received additional in-room surprises, including a special diamond dust contour gifted by Earth Baby as a special Gala gift, while the official skincare provider of the Miss Universe beauty pageant (O-Skin MedSpa) donated several high-end beauty kits as gifts for a few lucky Preface supporters.

Headlining the evening was an address by Emily Clegg, Volunteer Coordinator and Preface Liaison at East Lake Elementary School, who received the 2021 Preface Trailblazer Award. During her keynote speech, Clegg highlighted the diligence and dedication that Preface has shown to students amidst a world with now virtual challenges. Clegg emphasized that the Preface team did not slow down once the pandemic hit, but instead found new ways to virtually serve the students of East Lake, while still fostering the importance of building relationships and being academically sound.

“Hearing about Preface, I could see that it was a program that would not only focus on academic needs, which are important, but it would do so through the essential foundation of relationships. From my experience at East Lake, one of the most powerful ways I’ve ever seen students impacted is when you can create moments of connection between individuals,” said Clegg.

Clegg wrapped up her heartening keynote speech by highlighting the results that Preface helped create for the students at East Lake. Through Preface’s models and amidst COVID-19 challenges, the students are more confident in their skills as readers, have built better relationships with their ambassadors, and have shown noticeable improvement in their reading benchmarks – a true testament to the power of Preface.

In addition to the 2021 Trailblazer Award, Preface also recognized the Gala’s Presenting Sponsor (Earth Baby) and its Platinum Sponsor (The McCallie School) with specially designed awards highlighting their generosity.

Additional Gala supporters included Friends of the Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi (Gold Sponsors), Peterson Hostetler, UBS, and The Copler Family (Silver Sponsors). Preface received further support and virtual well-wishes from our community partners and friends at The Bethlehem Center, The Baylor School, The Benwood Foundation, WUTC, and The Public Education Foundation.

“We at Preface are so humbled and grateful for the incredible generosity of our sponsors – we’re still smiling! Every dollar raised is going towards improving the lives of the kids and their communities. We couldn’t do it without the support of our amazing Preface family,” said Antigone “Tiggy” Valen, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Innovation Officer of Preface.

The 2021 Spring Gala was a wonderful reflection of the greater community backing the Preface cause. Preface is grateful for the vast continued support of generous sponsors and community partners that support Preface’s mission. With future innovations and expansions on the horizon, all funds raised at the Spring Gala will undoubtedly help expand Preface’s no-cost model in communities across the nation and transform the lives of young children – in Chattanooga and beyond!

About Preface:

Founded in 2019, Preface is a public-private philanthropic initiative dedicated to fostering Equality Through Education and early childhood literacy - often with a multilingual twist! Partnering with educators and community leaders, Preface empowers local high schoolers to give back to their communities and bridge opportunity gaps by fostering literacy among young students of all backgrounds. A federally recognized 501(c)(3) organization, Preface is proudly headquartered in Gwinnett County, Georgia and serves communities across America. Learn more at

For further inquiries, contact:

Devon Naftzger

Chief Marketing Officer

Preface Public Relations




bottom of page