Kristen Kennard, Moran Center director of social work programs; actor Mark Moses; Kathy Lyons, Moran Center executive director and Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Moran Center deputy director. Photo by Robert Shiverts of Northshore Photography & Design

More than 250 people attended the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy’s annual benefit last month. The high-energy event kicked off a reception with actor Mark Moses, of Mad Men fame, who spoke of his experience growing up in Evanston, the impact that Judge Moran’s work had on his life, and how he continues to be inspired by the work being done at the Moran Center.

Mr. Moses and Jennifer G. Moran, Moran Center board member and event co-chair, presented the Honorable James B. Moran “Justice from the Lighthouse” Legacy Award to the City of Evanston’s Youth and Young Adult Outreach team.

Team members Christopher Bull, Porschia Davis, Jermey McCray, Stacey Moragne, Nathan Norman and Maurice Wilkerson were in attendance to accept the award.

Ms. Moran said, “This team knows the kids in our community so well that they can stop a fight before it happens – by talking to kids, talking to families, and helping de-escalate situations when tensions run high.”

Another highlight of the evening was the original production of “In Their Own Words.”

In 2014, the John Howard Association (Illinois’ non-partisan prison watchdog) issued a report that captured first-hand experiences of incarcerated young people and their reflections on the laws, policies and practices that are intended to hold them accountable.

Lawrence Grimm, an actor, teacher and founder of A Red Orchid Theatre, adapted this report into an original stage production and cast three talented actors, Ashleigh LaThrop, Jerry MacKinnon, and Rejinal Simon, to bring the script to life.

Executive Director Kathy Lyons was thrilled with the turnout and success of the event, and said more than 90% of the funds raised at the benefit will go directly to providing legal and social work services. “We appreciate how our supporters allow us to put our clients are at the forefront of everything we do,” she said.