Project Dinner Table founder wants to get people together

Vegas Voices is a weekly series highlighting notable Las Vegans.

Gina Gavan can sound like a self-help guru at times.

“Life is about communication and showing up open-hearted and willing to trust,” she advises.

“We’re all connected,” she offers at another point in the conversation. “And we’re all one.”

Since coming to the valley in 2000, she’s applied those philosophies to a career in the private and public sectors, as well as the nonprofit world. Gavan’s company, Tribal Minds Marketing, has worked on projects at Strip hotels and in the Fremont East Entertainment District. She’s served on committees for several local nonprofits.

Since 2014, she’s been director of economic development for North Las Vegas, developing relationships with companies such as Amazon, Fanatics and Hyperloop One.

In the culinary world, Gavan is best known for creating Project Dinner Table. From 2010-14, the series regularly brought over 100 guests to a single massive table, usually in an outdoor venue, to enjoy a meal by top Las Vegas chefs and raise money for charity. On Sept. 29, Project Dinner Table will return, with an outdoor meal by chef Geno Bernardo at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Orchard in North Las Vegas. Part of the proceeds will benefit Green Our Planet’s work developing school gardens.

We spoke to Gavan about the series and her general thoughts on the valley.

Review-Journal: What brought you to Las Vegas?

Gina Gavan: I was married, and we moved here when Las Vegas was looking to be one of the suburbs of Silicon Valley and the dot-com world. We moved out here for my husband’s job. And then I stayed.

How did you get involved with local government?

I met the mayor (of North Las Vegas) at an event, and we were talking about community and business. At the time, they were trying to turn around the city, which was a couple of weeks away from receivership. I met his leadership team, and they had a position open. It seemed like a great challenge. I was really ready for something different. And I just thought, “I’m somewhat of a glutton for punishment, so let’s do this.”

What have you learned in government that surprised or intrigued you?

Government is all about people and relationships, and understanding what people care about. That was something that I didn’t quite expect because I’m so anti-bureaucracy and anti-government. What I realized is there are such incredible people who work in government, and how much they care about what they do. It may not seem like that sometimes because of the layers, but that’s probably why North Las Vegas is so magical.

Do you think North Las Vegas gets overlooked?

It’s totally overlooked. It’s really been a stepchild. But (we’re) just now getting people to realize that North Las Vegas isn’t what you necessarily believe it to be when you see it on the news. There are a lot of assets, and great parks and people, and some beautiful neighborhoods that are unexpected. Sometimes you gotta believe in the underdog.

How did you come up with Project Dinner Table?

It started in April of 2009, and it came out of sitting in these meetings and listening to people talk about how they disliked Las Vegas, and how it hadn’t been good to them. This was when everybody was losing their shirts — 2007, 2008, the spillover effect. I just didn’t agree. I was like, “I’ve met some incredible people here. I think that there’s a strong network of community.” That, coupled with my roots — being from Indiana, having cousins who were farmers, being into local food, and this lost art of gathering around the table and having conversations — I (thought) “What would happen if I just kind of combined all of these things together, giving people this sense of community around the table, let people talk and reconnect and fall in love with Las Vegas again?”

Do you think it was successful?

In the four-year gap since I’ve done the last dinner, people have reached out every week in some way or another — text, social media or phone calls – and said “When are you going to do this again? We miss this. This is how we connected with community.” I would have never anticipated the love people have for it. It’s very humbling.

The price tag for the comeback event is $220 a person, which not an inexpensive dinner. Do you worry that with that price, you’re limiting it to a small portion of the community?

I think that’s very valid. I’ve personally struggled with it, because I don’t want people to feel constrained. But the reality is, it’s quite an undertaking when you’re setting up in remote locations and building a kitchen outside. None of that is inexpensive. And then the charitable component, making sure we’re giving enough back so there’s some social impact with those dollars. So I just have to trust and believe that the people who are meant to be there will be there. And it doesn’t mean there can’t be a more simplified version that might make sense for more people.

How is community different now in Las Vegas versus 2009, and how does Project Dinner Table fit in ?

Adding sports into our lives (has had an impact). The Vegas Golden Knights have been incredible for our community, and I think the Raiders will find a place and (help) weave that thread of what community means. (Project Dinner Table) does stay pretty true to its roots: Get outside the four walls, come and meet strangers and leave as friends. Realize that we’re all connected and we’re all one, and nothing of great significance ever gets accomplished in a silo.

Getting to know: Gina Gavan

Everyday ritual

Each morning I pull Angel cards to set intentions for the day.

Favorite book

“Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman, for its insightful wisdom highlighted with humor.

Phobia

Closed-tube MRI machines. When you forget to close your eyes, it’s like being buried alive. Not awesome.

Favorite vacation destination

No specific destination, just travel in general. The adventure, perspective and inspiration that strike when traveling stirs the soul.

Food I could eat every day

Chocolate chip cookies and cheeseburgers

Last concert

I tool took my daughter to Elton John’s last concert, The Red Piano.

Piece of art that truly moved you.

Anything by Mark Rothko. His work simultaneously soothes and stimulates me.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini@review-journal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Month-by-month entertainment coming in 2019
“True Detective” Season 3, HBO (Jan. 13) Travis Scott, T-Mobile Arena (Feb. 6) Robbie Williams, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas (March 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16) “Game of Thrones” Season 8, HBO (April) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 17-19) “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Smith Center (June 4-9) “The Lion King” (July 19) Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (Aug. 16-18) Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas (Sept. 20-22) “Tim Burton @ the Neon Museum” (Oct. 15) “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22) “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20)
Lacey Huszcza invites you to find something to love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic talks about the orchestra's wealth of programming. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gina Marinelli offers La Strega preview
Gina Marinelli used a pop-up New Year’s Eve dinner at Starboard Tack to preview items she’ll feature at her new Summerlin restaurant, La Strega. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Eve at Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf’s New Year’s Eve party was a sort of official unveiling of its newly renovated space. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Debra Kelleher Of The Stirling Club
Debra Kelleher, DK Hospitality President talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the Stirling Club.
Richard Ditton Of The Stirling Club
Richard Ditton, an investment partner of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
NYE at the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes reports from the reopening of the Stirling Club on New Year's Eve 2018.
Michael Stapleton of the Stirling Club
Michael Stapleton, COO of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
Recap the Countdown on Fremont Street — VIDEO
Nearly 40,000 people packed Fremont Street to enjoy America's Party Downtown. As the tradition stands, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman counted down the clock on the 3rd Street Stage, alongside her husband and former mayor, Oscar Goodman.
New Year's Eve live from the Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Fountains - Video
Reporter Aaron Drawhorn near the Bellagio Fountains as hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' five biggest NYE concerts
Imagine Dragons at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Lady Gaga at The Park Theater at Park MGM, Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at T-Mobile Arena, and Tenacious D at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye @bizutesfaye
New American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
Bellagio Conservatory display is Majestic Holiday Magic
Majestic Holiday Magic at the Bellagio Conservatory
Las Vegas Ready for 2019 NYE Fireworks Show
The city of Las Vegas is ready to celebrate "America's Party" with a new and improved fireworks show that will pay tribute to the Golden Knights.
Life
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stop the bleed
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to stop bleeding
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Revisiting “Christ the King” sculpture
A longtime admirer of the sculpture at Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas shares her perspective. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator Christmas House
Arguably better than a hotel holiday display, is Terry and Angie Fator's home located in southwest Las Vegas.
UNLV Winter Graduation Packs Thomas & Mack
UNLV's 55th winter commencement ceremony included approximately 2,146 undergraduate and graduate students who recently completed their studies. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Build-A-Bear comes to Reed Elementary School
Students participated in a Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Doris Reed Elementary School in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the LVRJ
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center art depicts names of God
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center founder Sharaf Haseebullah talks about new diamond-shaped art panels featuring some of the 99 names of Allah at the main entrance the Las Vegas mosque. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Catholic Charities hosts early Christmas meal
Students from the Bishop Gorman High School football and cheerleader team helped to serve food at the Christmas meal sponsored by the Frank and Victoria Fertitta Foundation at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada on Sunday. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
People participated in the 14th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run which raises cubs for Opportunity Village.
World Holidays Exhibit At The Natural History Museum
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like