Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Joann Chavez at Washington Adventist University's 2023 Visionaries Gala | Photo courtesy WAU

Washington Adventist University’s 10th Visionaries Gala

Story by WAU Staff

On 17th September, Washington Adventist University hosted the 10th Visionaries Gala, which highlighted excellence in leadership, resilience, journalism, and education.

This year’s gala, hosted at the Congretional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., spotlighted honorees such as Diane Wallace Booker, Attorney Joann Chavez, Steve Francis, Wintley Phipps and Armstrong Williams.

The event kicked off at 6 p.m., providing guests the luxury of intimate conversations and photo sessions while indulging in the delectable entrées from Congressional’s catering. It provided an initial opportunity for attendees to mingle, setting the stage for the main event.

By 7 p.m., attendees were seated in the main dining hall, listening to the inspiring words from representatives of Washington Adventist University. 

As the night continued, attendees expressed their optimism for the university’s promising future. Among the distinguished crowd, many were eager to share their insights regarding the gala and WAU’s overarching ambitions.

“I was deeply honored by Dr. Spence’s invitation,” shared Chavez, senior vice president and chief legal officer at DTE Energy. “I believe we share a profound connection in our desire to serve God. I particularly admire the campus’s commitment to timely student graduation. I truly feel my presence here tonight is the result of divine intervention.”

She went on to laud the determination of the students, fueled by an unwavering belief in success, which she found especially striking during her interactions at the Gala. “The dual dedication to their chosen professions and to serving God is indeed a formidable force,” she remarked.

Chavez also emphasized WAU’s commendable goal of educating more Latino students. “Considering the significant number of Latinos in this country, we’re eager to collaborate to ensure they access higher education and obtain the necessary degrees.”

Before his departure, NBA veteran and three-time all-star Steve Francis expressed his deep affection for his hometown of Takoma Park, Md. “I’ve been privileged to witness the evolution of Washington Adventist University from a junior college to a renowned university. This gala showcased the institution’s global reach, welcoming individuals from various backgrounds.”

“Mental health is paramount to me,” Francis revealed. “Many shy away from discussing personal challenges, and it’s a cause I passionately champion. Of course, enhancing athletic facilities is also a priority. Ensuring athlete comfort, both on and off the field, undoubtedly elevates their performance.”

The evening was surrounded by warm sentiments and aspirations, leaving the WAU community filled with hope and anticipation for the future.

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