Annual Milley Award dinner will be hosted by Marin Theatre Company Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis and is set for Oct. 22 at the Mill Valley Community Center.

2017 Milley Award winners, from top left, photographer Lisa Kristine, filmmaker Gary Yost, former City Manager Don Hunter, author/illustrator Thacher Hurd, publishers John and Winifred MacLeod and pianist Gini Wilson. Courtesy images.
The Milley Awards, Mill Valley’s annual celebration of the community’s vast amount of creative achievement and distinguished accomplishments in the arts, unveiled its 2017 class of winners this week. As usual, it’s a celebrated group from a wide array of fields, all providing yet another reminder of the vitality of the local arts and entertainment scene in the 94941.

The Milley Award recipients are selected by a panel of judges from nominations received from the community, based on one or more of three criteria: Outstanding achievement in creating, performing or teaching in the arts; Demonstration of a significant body of work; Service to the arts community. This year the judges were Donna Seager, owner of Seager Gray
Gallery; Debbie Mills, retired City of Mill Valley Finance Director; Jacques Leslie, author and journalist and previous Milley recipient; Tony Angelo, musician and previous Milley recipient; and Sara Pearson, Mountain Play Executive Director.

Milley’s 23rd annual gala, produced by a volunteer board under the auspices of the Mill Valley Art Commission, is set for October 22 at 6pm at the Community Center, with Marin Theatre Company Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis serving as host. Tickets are $72 and go on sale in September. The following standouts will be honored:

Gini Wilson, Musical Arts


Tam Valley jazz pianist Gini Wilson, widely known as “The Duchess,” is being honored for musical arts. She’s the founder of the San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet and is a private piano instructor, teaching young musicians from her home studio. In the 1970s and 80s, Wilson was popular supper club musician at then-landmark SF restaurants Stars and Moose’s, and continues to perform at restaurants, hotels and music clubs around the Bay Area.

As a private piano instructor, Wilson has influenced hundreds of young musicians from her home studio in Tam Valley, where she and her husband have lived for 30 years. Check out Wilson performing “Oblivion” at the San Jose Jazz Festival in 2008:

Lisa Kristine, Visual Arts & Design


Mill Valley resident and humanitarian photographer Lisa ​Kristine has published six books featuring her photographs and has gained recognition for her work illuminating modern-day slavery, including her collaboration with NGO Free the Slaves and her exhibition at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit.

For the past 30 years, Kristine has traveled the world documenting the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples in more than 100 countries on six continents. She has gained broad recognition for illuminating modern-day slavery. She was the subject of four documentaries and
was the inspiration for a character played by Gillian Anderson in the movie Sold, directed by fellow Mill Valleyan Jeffrey D. Brown. Watch her TED Talk below:

Thacher Hurd, Literary Arts


A Mill Valley native, Thacher Hurd is a second-generation children’s book author and illustrator who wrote his first book when he was 16. His Zoom City was chosen as a chosen a New York Times best illustrated book in 1998, and Mama Don’t Allow, based on a jazz song, won a Grammy and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, and was made into a musical.​

​The son of Edith and Clement Hurd, themselves a prolific children’s book author and illustrator team, Thacher has written and illustrated more than 25 books for children, and has illustrated many others. He writes from a kid’s point of view, and children easily identify with his characters (often animals) who are exploring their world and discovering who they are in it. His language has rhythm and musicality, and his drawings are fluid and full of color.

Gary Yost, Performing & Visual Arts


​Gary Yost is a photographer, filmmaker and software developer who turned his full talents to photography and short films after a productive career creating animation and design software. Yost first came to the broader attention to many in Mill Valley and Marin in 2012 with a gorgeous, viral time-lapse video, A Day in the Life of a Fire Lookout.

Yost, in support of One Tam and the restoration of West Peak, which was leveled to create an Air Force lookout station during the Cold War, has been the driving force behind the award-winning film series, The Invisible Peak. It’s been a selection at 16 film festivals and shown on PBS stations. 

John & Winifred MacLeod, Community Contributions


​Twenty-six years ago, Winifred and John MacLeod, who are being honored in the community contributions category, founded FastFoward, an award-winning magazine and website for kids by kids, which is distributed to 20,000 students across Marin. The student reporters have interviewed the likes of Hillary Clinton, Dr. Ben Carson, Robin Williams, CNN’s Don Lemon, ABC News’ David Muir, Spike Lee, Edward Norton, the Broadway cast of Hamilton and many more.

The magazine started in Mill Valley as the Mill Valley School Record, before expanding countywide and becoming FastForward. FastForward won the Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Foundation and has been featured on CNN. The MacLeods have lived in Mill Valley for more than 25 years.

Don Hunter, Sali Lieberman Award


Don Hunter, who was born and raised in Mill Valley, held positions in city administration from 1973 to 2006, the last seven as City Manager. ​Hunter is being awarded the Sali Lieberman Award, which is named in honor of the Marin Theatre Company founder and honors lifetime achievements and lasting contributions to the cultural life of Mill Valley. Over a 28-year quest for an arts center in Mill Valley, Don was the central figure in the realization of the vision, working with the community throughout the funding, construction and opening of the Mill Valley Community Center.

Under Hunter’s tenure, the city also created Bayfront Park and Skate Park, renovated the Depot and Lytton Square, and remodeled the Mill Valley Library. While City Manager, Mill Valley was named by Money magazine as one of the Ten Best Places to Live in the U.S.

The 411: The 23rd Milley Awards will be handed out at a ceremony on Sunday, October 22 at 6pm at the Community Center, with Marin Theatre Company Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis serving as host. Tickets are $72 and go on sale in September. MORE INFO & TIX.