It’s only fitting that Matt Johnson and Yasmine Delawari Johnson met 12 years ago at a barbecue and pool party supporting the Boys and Girls Club of America. On March 12, the entertainment power couple — he the managing partner at law firm Ziffren Brittenham, she a documentary filmmaker and activist, will receive the National Champion for Children’s Award at the Alliance for Children’s Rights‘ 23rd annual dinner celebration at the Beverly Hilton, for their involvement in changing the lives of kids.
Johnson has been involved in the Boys and Girls Clubs for 18 years now, serving as board president of his chapters and as a national trustee. Yasmine Delawari Johnson, an Alliance for Children’s Rights board member, co-founded the Alliance of Moms, a volunteer program that raises funds and gives educational workshops to help youths in foster care.
Johnson recalls taking kids from the Boys and Girls Club of South Central and Echo Park on picnics, trips to the mountains, and the beach, and using his professional network to bring in guest speakers such as Hollywood directors including Tim Story (“Ride Along”) and basketball players like Baron Davis, as well as those with less glitzy jobs, like accountants. “The idea was for the kids to realize that the path takes a college degree,” he said.
Yasmine, who grew up in Pasadena, said that children’s circumstances are based on “luck and geography” as to where they are born. “But if we can use our blessings, our influence and the access in Matt’s career (to help), we can have a positive influence on the community,” she added.
The couple has four children, but Matt is quick to point the lives he’s been able to touch through the Boys and Girls Club, inspiring some to attend college and one girl to go to UC Davis and become a teacher. The Alliance for Children’s Rights dinner celebration, he maintains, is for the kids.