The Country Friends announces 16-year partnership with South Coast Plaza
Designs from top international luxury brands will take to the runway in Rancho Santa Fe on Sept. 10 when The Country Friends presents the Art of Fashion in partnership with South Coast Plaza. The annual runway show and luncheon, held for 65 years at the historic Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, highlights the latest trends from the fall/winter collections of a carefully curated selection of the center’s renowned retailers. This year’s event marks the nonprofit’s 16-year partnership with the West Coast’s premier shopping destination.
“We are so delighted to team up once again with South Coast Plaza, known for its unmatched collection of luxury brands,” says Suzanne Newman, president of The Country Friends. “Art of Fashion is our signature event, an annual tribute to fall, fashion and philanthropy, which raises crucial funds for San Diego County charities.” This year’s event will benefit 44 nonprofits selected by The Country Friends Board of Directors after careful review.
Each year, the Art of Fashion recognizes those who have shown extraordinary commitment to The Country Friends. This year’s honorary chairs are Les and Deborah Cross, affectionately known as “Mr. and Mrs. Country Friends” because of their 13-year dedication to the organization. Art of Fashion chair is Amber N. Yoo, a dynamic business owner, community leader and philanthropist. ABC/10 News anchor Kimberly Hunt will serve as emcee.
Deborah Cross joined The Country Friends Board of Directors in 2008, was elected president from 2014-2018, and now serves as first vice president. She and Les also are on TCF’s finance committee. The couple co-chairs The Country Friends Legacy Campaign, and also headed up the inaugural “Giving Hearts Gala” in 2018 to benefit that capital campaign.
A San Diego native, Deborah graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree and went on to earn a master’s degree in audiology. She worked as an audiologist for Kaiser Permanente for several years before starting her own practice at the age of 28, expanding the business to six offices in San Diego County.
Les, originally from Sydney, Australia, has worked in the medical device arena for most of his successful career. In 2011, he retired as chief executive officer of DJO Global, Inc., a leading provider of orthopedic devices. He later took the helm as chairman of the board of Alphatec Spine, retiring in 2015. Les now loves to consult, travel, paint, and join Deborah in giving back to community
The Crosses have played active roles in charities that include the USS Midway Museum, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. They also support Casa de Amparo, Support the Enlisted Project, Heifer International, Project Concern International, Susan G. Komen, Rady Children’s Hospital, and The Salvation Army, which honored Deborah as a “Woman of Dedication” in 2018 for her long community service. The couple has three children: Lara-Lee, Sarah and Andrew.
Art of Fashion Chair Amber N. Yoo earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida, and co-founded SKY Facial Plastic Surgery with her husband, Dr. Sirius K. Yoo. Now in its 10th year, the highly regarded medical practice and surgery center in northern San Diego County, has won numerous awards, including one of the fastest growing companies (led by a UF alumnus) in the nation. Amber also has been honored as a finalist in the San Diego Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” and San Diego Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” awards.
She is deeply involved in community and philanthropy, with a special emphasis on causes that champion women, children and animals. Amber has served on the steering committee for United Way’s Women United and is on the development committee for Susan G. Komen. She also has taken on many roles, as an officer and event chair, for the Del Mar unit of Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary. Amber now serves on the board of the FACE Foundation which provides financial aid for the care of critically ill pets and co-founded an animal welfare nonprofit responsible for leading the “adopt, don’t shop” movement in Los Angeles.
A lifetime member of The Country Friends, Amber has been involved with the nonprofit’s signature fundraiser, the Art of Fashion for several years, as a sponsor and committee member. Amber and her husband of 15 years live in 4S Ranch with their baby daughter Quinn. They also have a Whippet named Hayden and Isabelle, a kitten adopted from the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe once again will serve as the charming venue for the Art of Fashion, which begins with a champagne reception and photo lounge followed by the runway show and luncheon. Throughout the day, South Coast Plaza mini boutiques will offer the latest in clothing, handbags, jewelry, eyewear, and accessories.
The Country Friends is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, formed 66 years ago to provide needed funding for San Diego County-based charities. Its mission is “Helping San Diegans since 1954: One Hand at a Time.” The organization raises funds primarily through the Art of Fashion, and proceeds from its Rancho Santa Fe consignment shop, which specializes in exquisite furniture, antiques, rugs, silver, china and objets d’art. Since its founding, The Country Friends has raised nearly $14 million to support human care agencies, with special emphasis on services to women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 858-756-1192, extension 4. Visit thecountryfriends.org. --News release