Have You Met Leslie Rich?
With her training as an interior designer, Leslie Rich has a unique perspective on the legacy that is the ASU Gammage. “It’s a spectacular work of art that must be preserved! Nearly 500,000 people come to events at the theater every year, and additionally it has pumped nearly a billion dollars of economic impact into the community since 2006.
The last public commission of Frank Lloyd Wright, the auditorium is named for Dr. Grady Gammage, President of Arizona State University from 1933-1959. Fifty concrete columns support the round roof with its pattern of interlocking circles, and seats more than 3,000 people.
Rich is the event chair for the Golden Gammage Gala (GOGAGA). “The year 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the auditorium, and we have established an initiative to raise money to enhance this fabulous facility! Leslie and her husband have lived in Arizona for the past 22 years. “We came to the area because our son and daughter went to college in Tucson, and both graduated from ASU Law School in Tempe. They are both attorneys and are in partnership in Scottsdale together. My husband also practices law with licenses in Florida, Ohio, and Arizona. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, I volunteered for the local symphony and ballet, and after I moved down here, I saw old friends from Ohio at a party, and they urged me to become involved with ASU Gammage. They knew I was not one to be overwhelmed planning major events. And it has been an inspiring foundation to work with.” Leslie is also a member of the Arizona Junior League, and the Arizona Citizens for the Arts. She and her husband enjoy traveling world-wide.
What she appreciates most about the Tempe area is the community. “We have just the nicest people you’d ever want to meet here, hardworking people who would do anything for you! Maybe it’s a sort of an Old West spirit - we work together and get things done. I’m privileged to serve with an extraordinary group of people.”
Rich is enthused about the Gammage Gala, GOGAGA, that occurred on October 12. “We had some fabulous entertainment planned! Bandaloop premiered a new piece for our 350 guests, performing their signature moves of vertical dance, descending from walls and ceilings. And Broadway star Dan’yelle sang six songs while we dined. We had a safari theme, complete with live African animals, an African drum corps. Brown Lindiwe Mkhiz ewho plays Rafiki in Disney's The Lion King performed as well.”
She is also proud of other programs that the ASU Gammage sponsors. “We have an outreach summer arts camp for students ages 10-17 called Camp Broadway. Kaleidoscope is a program for economically underserved children who normally couldn’t observe live theatre.
Journey Home employs an artist in residence who reaches out to incarcerated women, offering them activities in performance and visual arts, and creative writing. The training they receive culminates in a performance of all that they have created.
We also sponsor Military Family Nights at the ASU Gammage, where Arizona National Guard soldiers and their families can enjoy a free night of entertainment.”
Leslie Rich emphasizes, “I firmly support the arts--people should realize that civilizations are known by the arts they leave behind. By preserving the ASU Gammage we are showing future generations our skills and telling them what we valued. We must maintain this jewel of the desert!”
What are your local volunteer activities? ASU Gammage 50th Anniversary Leadership Board Co-Chair; Arizona Junior League; Arizona Citizens for the Arts
Who inspired you to give back to your community? My parents. I was taught from an early age to always give back the community in which you live to make it a better place and you a better person. If you don't participate, you have no right to complain.
Which fundraising event is your favorite? GOGAGA, there is no other!
Favorite restaurant? Locally, Roka Akor; Internationally, The Kitchen at Bubbledogs, London.
Whom do you most admire, and why? My husband Jeff. He is the energizer bunny--boundless enthusiasm and endless energy.
If your life were a movie, who would you want to play your part? Meg Ryan
Do you have any pets? Not at this time
Favorite TV show? Revenge
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? That you are able to enjoy the same spectacular view of Pinnacle Peak that I had!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned through the years? I always treat everyone from royalty to sales clerks the same. Everyone deserves kindness and consideration. Being kind to all is the greatest feeling and reciprocated 100%.
What was your first job? Designing lingerie for Van Raalte in NYC
What is your greatest indulgence? "Salty Caramel" ice cream from Jeni's in Columbus, Ohio, now available at AJ's here in the Valley of the Sun. There is no comparison.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? My children, Court Rich and Jordan Rose, attorneys, and the fact that they work well professionally together. Also my marriage of 44 years to the most wonderful man.
What is your most treasured possession? An original work by Elijah Pierce
What is the quality you most like in people? I like high powered women who let nothing stand in their way to achieve their dreams.
Favorite books/writers? The two books by Robert Edsal, Monuments Men and Saving Italy. Read these before the movie comes out. If you are an art lover, you will be enthralled!
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Conceit .
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Playing Bridge.
What would we be most surprised to know about you? I am an accomplished sushi chef.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Put yourself out there. Nothing gets done by sitting around.
What are some challenges facing nonprofits? One of the challenges is getting newcomers to the valley to support their new home charities. It's hard to break the habit of giving to your old ties. But, with enough information they usually come around. The people of Phoenix/ Scottsdale/Tempe are the most charitable people I have known and I thank them for all they have done for ASU Gammage.