St. David’s Foundation Toast Of The Town Party Series Dazzles With Twenty Events


By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Matthew Fuller Photography

THE SETTING: A score of Austin’s stunning venues were the recent settings of the Capitol City’s most beloved and popular spring social benefits. This year’s St. David’s Toast Of The Town featured twenty intimate gatherings at a delightfully eclectic mix of popular dining and entertainment locations…as well as in beautiful homes and estates. The happenings attracted over 600 of Austin’s most notable philanthropists and VIPs and featured delightful company, engaging conversation, and unforgettable moments.


[PG 2]: THE STYLE: Guests donned their favorite Austin-chic attire for a diverse series of events that would satisfy even the most discerning sociable. Sports fanatics could attend different athletic-themed events with The University of Texas head football coach Steve Sarkisian and his wife Loreal, the UT Baseball Coach David Pierce, or a private experience at the new Q2 Stadium. Music lovers could spend the evening with either Austin Symphony Orchestra Conductor Peter Bay, legendary Austin musician Roy Benson, or Texas-based GRAMMYÒ Award-winning musician SaulPaul.


Additionally, foodies had the chance to enjoy a champagne dinner featuring Jeffrey’s Sommelier Anthony Schlotzhauer at a home on Lake Austin or a fabulous dinner at Canje in East Austin. Fashionistas could discuss couture fashion with Project Runway alum Sergio Guadarrama. History enthusiasts had the opportunity to spend a one-of-a-kind evening with LBJ Foundation President Mark Updegrove or The University of Texas Chancellor James Milliken. And the legendary journalist Neal Spelce held court while hosting a conversation al fresco, sharing stories of his time in the press pool during the presidency of Central Texas native Lyndon Baines Johnson.


[PLACE ON PG 3:]Each individual party featured two common threads. The first was to hear from a Neal Kocurek Scholarship Alumni, who shared how the scholarship has positively impacted their life. Many of the scholarship recipients have been the first in their families to attend college. All the parties were capped off with a moderated chat with the guest of honor. The guests were able to ask questions after the talk, which kept the interesting conversations flowing well into the evening.


THE PURPOSE: The Toast of the Town party series, chaired by Chandra Hosek with Mary Katherine Stout serving as vice chair, raised over $577,000 for the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program, which, thanks to a matching grant by St. David’s Foundation, raised the total to over $1.7 million. Each year the Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program, Texas’ largest healthcare scholarship program, awards $7,500 scholarships per year for up to eight years to Central Texas high school seniors looking to pursue careers in the medical field.



Dr. Edward Burger, President and CEO of the St. David’s Foundation, based in Austin, recently shared his insight with our Lance Avery Morgan on the many nuances of the philanthropic spirit and how it can positively affect so many.

Lance Avery Morgan: Dr. Burger, can you tell us about St. David’s Foundation and the organization’s vision for our Central Texas community?

Dr. Edward Burger: St. David’s Foundation is one of the largest health foundations in the United States, funding $80 million annually in a five-county area surrounding Austin, Texas. Through a unique partnership with St. David’s HealthCare, the Foundation reinvests proceeds from the hospital system back into the community, with a goal of advancing health equity and improving the health and well-being of our most underserved Central Texas neighbors. St. David’s Foundation also operates the largest mobile dental program providing charity care in the country and offers the largest healthcare scholarship program in Texas.


LAM: St. David’s Foundation is a part of the philanthropic and social web of the communityto what does it owe that success?

EB: As stewards of our community dollars, we have worked over the last 25 years to foster longstanding, collaborative relationships. From our outstanding Board members, volunteers, and event chairs to our grantees and partners on the ground, I believe we share a commitment to improving health outcomes for our Central Texas neighbors.


LAM: The Foundation began its Toast of the Town events a few decades back in 1984why do you think it was initially so successfuland still so successful? It has a huge following… 

EB: The concept of Toast of the Town is truly unique and built on a model that speaks from the heart—opening one’s home to host intimate gatherings. It quickly became a suite of favorite annual philanthropic social events for our many supporters. The soirees and programming change every year, offering something special for every taste and interest. Part of the secret to Toast’s ongoing success is that it continues to evolve right along with Central Texas.


LAM: The Toast of the Town annual events each spring provide philanthropic support and awareness for the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship—how does it benefit students pursuing their educations in health-related fields?

EB: Our scholarship program is truly transformational in nature. Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, so our scholarship community provides academic and emotional support in addition to financial assistance. Each scholar is also matched with a healthcare professional who mentors them for a minimum of four years. The guidance of these mentors is vital to encouraging our scholars along their unique journeys and has become a key, distinguishing element of our program’s success.     


LAM: It’s so great when many of the scholarship recipients share their personal stories at the Toast events. All proceeds from Toast of the Town sponsorships and tickets, with a two-to-one match by St. David’s Foundation, are dedicated to the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship program. What kind of impact do you see that philanthropy having?

EB: Looking ahead, it’s essential that we foster the next generation of physicians, nurses, dentists, lab technicians and others to provide quality care to the communities served by these future healthcare professionals. We are reminded now, more than ever, of the vital importance of a strong healthcare workforce for the health and well-being of our Central Texas neighbors.


LAM: Beyond the Toast events, please share some of your insight on the Foundation’s grant-making initiatives.

EB: We are guided by a commitment to achieving health equity both today and tomorrow. Our work is based on our belief that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve optimal health, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or zip code. And while access to high-quality medical care is essential, health is about much more than a visit to the doctor. In fact, the most influential drivers of health outcomes are factors that exist outside of the healthcare system, such as poverty, unemployment, housing status, and education level. Our strategic initiatives throughout Central Texas range from support of safety net clinics and mobile charity dental care to initiatives that promote healthy environments for young children to increase their odds of succeeding in school, to critical support for older adults and their caregivers to allow aging in place.


LAM: Thanks so much for your time and looking ahead, what are your thoughts on philanthropy in this region and opportunities that exist for our community within the philanthropic sector?

EB: We stand in a pivotal moment. We continue to see a rapid increase in our population, along with tremendous growth in wealth, access, and innovation. Central Texas, in particular, has the opportunity to foster a stronger philanthropic environment that is more on par with other major cities with mature cultures of community giving. I believe through collective collaboration and contribution, we have the potential to truly transform Austin and Central Texas for generations to come. This aspiration holds the promise to be one of our greatest collective legacies.

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St. David’s Toast Of The Town Star-Studded Party Series Goes Virtual

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography courtesy of St. David’s Foundation

THE SETTING: St. David’s Foundation’s Toast of the Town, one of Austin’s most anticipated party series of the year, recently completed another star-studded round of soirées with a twist. This year’s events were hosted virtually due to the pandemic. Despite toasting from afar, guests were treated to the same fun, engaging parties with interesting speakers as in years past. The result was virtually the best Toast party series ever.


THE STYLE: Those who attended the party series were still treated to the same white-glove  experience they’d always had for the in-person events. In advance of each of the events, a welcome kit featuring multi-course meals from some of Austin’s best and most beloved venues, along with program details and a special thank you gift, were delivered to guests for them to savor and enjoy their five-star experience at home. In addition, prior to the launch of each event, guests were provided a special welcome on their screens by St. David’s Foundation CEO and President Dr. Ed Burger, allowing them to feel a part of the action in person.


The evenings began with words from St. David’s leadership before moving to the main programs. This year’s parties provided something for everyone. Those passionate about food engaged in separate events, including the Taste’s of Japan with celebrity chef Tyson Cole and barbecue with Daytripper Chet Garner. While, history buffs were treated with several options, including a conversation with Presidential historians Douglas Brinkley, Mark Updegrove, and H.W. Brands, as well as a national security discussion featuring Gen. Vincent Brooks, William Inboden, and Robert Chesney. Lastly, no Toast party series would be complete without music. This year exceeded expectations with separate evenings featuring music from legends of multiple music genres. These performances included country music legend Clint Black and Society Texas’ own Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli, who interviewed pop and punk rock icon Kathy Valentine about her new book All I Ever Wanted…she even serenaded the audience with The Go-Go’s iconic song, Vacation.


THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Mary Katherine Stout, with Ellen Troxclair serving as vice-chair, raised over $1.7 million for the Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program. Since the program’s founding, nearly 600 students have received annual scholarships of $7,500 to pursue health-related careers at Texas colleges and universities.

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