“I love making a difference,” Jennifer Salke told Variety at the annual Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Gala, held at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday evening.
“This is a great big diverse world, and everyone’s problems are all of our problems. It’s not just focusing on your job, your iPhone, your house, and your own family, but looking outside in the world and seeing where you can actually make a difference,” said the Amazon Studios head, who was honored with the Hollywood Humanitarian Award, along with husband and head of Fox 21 Television Studios, Bert Salke, in recognition of their work for Operation Smile — a non-profit that helps children born with cleft lip.
“Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes played host, peppering the evening with his signature dry wit.
Also in attendance was Rob Lowe, who presented the award to the couple.
“Really take this in, because you guys are two of the most normal, loving, giving, committed people in this business, and this is a direct result of who you are,” he said in his speech, in which he described the Salkes as “a new kind of power couple.”
Cedars-Sinai is both literally and figuratively close the Salke family — in their joint speech, they pointed out that they not only live a mile away from the hospital, but they emphasized how “Cedars was by our side” through Jennifer’s father’s battle with lung cancer, as well as her own double mastectomy a decade ago.
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Todd Morgan, CEO and founder of Bel Air Investment Advisors, was also honored that evening with the Philanthropic Leadership Award, presented to him by his two children and his wife, Rosanna Arquette. Morgan’s longtime friend Barbra Streisand made a surprise appearance via video message to congratulate him.
Other notable guests included Smokey Robinson, Marin Hinkle (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), and Dina Shihabi (“Jack Ryan”).
Before the live auction had even begun, it was announced that the board of governors had already raised over $30 million toward stem cell research. All proceeds go toward Cedars-Sinai’s Regenerative Medicine Institute, headed by Dr. Clive Svendsen, who specializes in using stem cell technology to research diseases like Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease, and diabetes.
Musical guest John Mayer closed the night by serenading the audience with a few acoustic selections, including the always topical “Waiting on the World to Change.”