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Rebecca Chaffee, Venora Hung.

Matt Miranda,

Pretty Young Philanthropists

  • Article by: CHRISTY DESMITH
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • October 4, 2008 - 2:40 PM

The sleek new W Hotel at the Foshay Tower was the setting for last Saturday's mixer by the LEAD Project, a group of moneyed young professionals who fundraise for various local causes. For a $95 ticket, each budding philanthropist got an evening's supply of cocktails and comminglers, not to mention a pat on the back: The event raised $14,000 for Twin Cities RISE!, an organization that trains un- and under-employed inner-city men to earn a living wage.

DJ Zak spun a nonstop mix of thumping techno while lawyers, executives and salespeople stood in clusters, shouting between one another. The music was so loud you couldn't think, let alone talk humanitarianism with one of these hotties. In fact, the only thing left to do was ogle that beautiful, mop-haired asset manager standing two, three, no four cliques away.

A roomful of buffed women wore business-inappropriate skirts and dresses. Our favorite was Maria Sheriff's vintage pleated sheath by Oscar de la Renta, but we also admired Darya Khavarnin's backless number from the Lava Lounge. Meanwhile, packs of pretty men were outfitted in tweedy jackets, designer dungarees and thick, artfully disheveled hair.

"There are some really hot guys here," concurred Jackie Kyle, an elegant vice president of mergers and acquisitions for United Health Group. Surveying the scene from a black leather sofa in a corner, she crooked her fingers into quotation marks and said: "We call this 'networking.' "

Christy DeSmith is a Minneapolis writer.

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