Ask the 2019-2020 Tournament of Roses president and CEO, Laura Farber, about her time as a student at Monterey Highlands Elementary and her warmth and enthusiasm shows. Farber immediately names the two principals, Mr. Fox and Mr. Carroll, who were there when she attended. She fondly remembers her science teacher, Mr. Jackson, and her fifth and sixth grade teacher, Ms. Simon. It was Ms. Simon’s encouragement and constant support that gave 10-year-old Laura the courage to enter a Chamber of Commerce speech contest on the topic of free enterprise, something the fifth grader at first knew nothing about. Farber ended up surprising herself by winning first prize and discovering she liked competition and public speaking.
On the honors track at Alhambra High, Farber still remembers Mr. Cullen, her ninth grade debate teacher; Ms. Benson, her physics teacher; Mr. Kneeland who taught pre-calculus; Mr. Trikoris her algebra /trigonometry teacher, and her English teacher, Mrs. Parker. As a high school student, Farber was active in the YMCA-affiliated La Candelle Service Club, was an AHS Song Leader, played the piano and the flute, and was a member of the debate team, the dance club, and the homecoming court.
Because music and dance were important to Farber from the time she was four years old, she is a strong supporter of the ARTS Advance AUSD campaign and agrees arts education is a superpower. Her South American parents made sure she was fluent in both Spanish and English. As a result, the AUSD Dual Immersion programs and High School State of California Seal of Biliteracy programs are of particular interest to Farber. “Becoming fluent in the arts and in one or more languages connects us and brings communities together,” she adds. “When students become involved in visual and performing arts and learn to speak, read and write in other languages, the life possibilities for students really expand.”
Today we can see how her early love of education, competition, debate, music and dance helped shape Farber into the law partner at Hahn & Hahn LLC she became, and foreshadowed her lifelong dedication to arts and education and civic leadership, both in the community and in her professional associations as a civil litigator. Farber’s 26 years as a volunteer member of the Tournament of Roses Association, where she served on or chaired nearly every committee, is only one example of her public service.
Asked how her Latina roots will influence the Tournament of Roses, Farber said, “For the 2020 Rose Parade, we have invited the most Latin American bands ever to participate. The quality of the submissions was unbelievable.” Marching bands from Mexico, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica are performing. She mentions that the centennial of the women’s right to vote is 2020, and says, “We will be honoring that 100th anniversary at the 2020 Tournament of Roses.”
Engaging with the band students who will be performing is one of her favorite aspects of the job as Tournament of Roses president and CEO. Farber said, “The kids are the heart of the Rose Parade. I love getting to know the band students and to fully support them on their incredible journey to perform on January 1, 2020.”
Though she will have full three or four-day itineraries when she travels to cities across the country and in Latin America to meet parents, boosters, band directors, community members, school administrators and the media, Ms Farber emphasizes, “I don’t want my time with the students shortchanged. They matter most.” Farber brings posters, pins, and every sort of Rose Parade gear with her to share with the students and the schools. “It is so heart-warming to see how much communities rally and unite to support their kids performing in the Rose Parade. You can see how that outpouring of love makes all the difference in the kids’ performances on January first.”
Since Farber lives in South Pasadena, she plans to meet AUSD students in two visits, one this spring and another in the fall. “I cannot wait to talk with my alma mater’s 2020 Rose Parade band kids,” she adds. Farber hopes that the dates for the two visits are decided on quickly before her calendar fills up.
On April 6, 2019, Farber will attend the Alhambra Educational Foundation’s 15th Annual Service to Excellence Awards Gala at the San Gabriel Hilton. AEF will dedicate its “Music and More” Program and the money raised to support the 266 members of the AUSD All District Marching Band and their families for their 2020 Rose Parade performance.