2021 Pioneer Giving

Our biggest fundraiser, the 80th Pioneer of the Year Dinner, was once again canceled due to the on-going global pandemic. The time-honored annual event has brought our industry community together to support an important mission, and has become a treasured piece of our history. 

While we all continue to be impacted by COVID-19, it’s all the more reason to celebrate the Pioneers Assistance Fund, and all the help and hope it has provided industry employees and veterans over the last year and beyond.

A Message From Our Chairman of the Board

Dear Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation supporter,

After a second consecutive year without a Pioneer of the Year Dinner, the primary funding source for the Pioneers Assistance Fund, we are reminded of the importance of human connection. We have missed gathering together in a ballroom to celebrate a Pioneer in our industry and recognize the significance of the work we do and the people we serve. While we may not have been able to tell you their stories in person, we can assure you our dedication to this industry and the people who work in it has remained steadfast.

It is because of your continued dedication to our cause that our Pioneers Assistance Fund has been able to provide financial relief to hundreds of industry employees. From continued COVID hardships to devastating hurricanes, over the past year we have provided:

Earlier this year we launched the Big Screens Big Hearts campaign to help people rebuild their lives who experienced financial hardship during the pandemic. The Big Screen Big Hearts campaign has one objective – help people rebuild their lives and get back on track.

The Pioneers Assistance Fund remains the only charitable assistance program for people who work in exhibition, distribution or trade services exclusive to the sector.

You or your company have been a generous donor to the Pioneer of the Year event in years past, and your support is needed more than ever. Together, we can continue to help industry workers who are struggling to keep their heads above water and navigate this ever-changing industry. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the industry charity during such a challenging time and ask you to stand with us to help industry workers. Thank you for your compassion, together we will get through this difficult time

With Gratitude,  Kyle Davies, Chairman of the Board


From New York to Los Angeles, your donations go directly to positively impact the lives of theater workers and industry employees and veterans. Here are a few examples of your dollars at work within our communities.

Massachusetts: Fighting Cancer and COVID

Joe, a long-time theater manager in Boston, was kept on as an employee during the pandemic, but his income was reduced by 60%. His wife has been unable to work for the last two years due to her battle with cancer. She was on an autoimmune cancer medication for quite some time, but due to the pandemic there was a short supply of her medication and her doctor switched to a new one. The new drug was not covered by the couple’s health insurance. The Pioneers Assistance Fund is helping the couple offset the high cost of the medication while they continue to rebuild their lives.

North Carolina: Facing the Storm Head-On

Nancy, a theater manager in North Carolina was furloughed due to the pandemic and was living on reduced income. Two weeks later, a line of severe storms marched across North Carolina and in a matter of 24 hours, a total of 12 tornadoes touched down across the state. While the tornadoes were low grade, the damage left behind was anything but. Nancy’s home had significant damage, and the repair costs were beyond what she could afford with a reduced income. The home would be deemed inhabitable for her and her family unless major repairs were quickly made. The Pioneers Assistance Fund provided a grant to help with the repair costs and we continue to help Nancy and her family as they continue to rebuild their lives.

New Mexico: Finding and Fostering Hope

Marcos, a theater employee in Albuquerque, worked a secondary job at a group home. In February 2020 the home closed. In an instant, Marcos became a single foster father to four siblings in danger of being separated. A month later, the pandemic hit and Marcos was placed on reduced hours and not eligible for unemployment. He had no choice but to move to another county with less expensive rent, making his commute twice as long. The hours spent traveling each week put a strain on Marcos and the children. The Pioneers Assistance Fund is helping Marcos and his new family relocate back to their original residence as they continue to rebuild their lives.


THANK YOU for your continued support of our programs. To send a gift, please click the “Donate” button below. You can also send donations via check (payable to Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation) to Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, ATTN Pioneer Dinner, 6767 Forest Lawn Dr UNIT 303, Los Angeles, CA 90068. Your gift is tax deductible as allowed by law.


The Pioneers Assistance Fund is a program with five levels of assistance offered to industry veterans in need. Assistance can range from a monthly stipend to medical rehabilitation, equipment aid, emergency grants or vocational retraining. The funds raised from this event are restricted to the PAF.

Past Honorees

  • 2019 Elizabeth Banks
  • 2018 Tom Cruise
  • 2017 Cheryl Boone Isaacs
  • 2016 Donna Langley
  • 2015 Jim Gianopulos
  • 2014 Tom Sherak
  • 2013 Kathleen Kennedy
  • 2012 Jeffrey Katzenberg
  • 2011 Dick Cook
  • 2010 Rob Moore
  • 2009 David Linde and Marc Shmuger
  • 2008 Mike Campbell
  • 2007 Jeff Blake
  • 2005/06 Travis Reid
  • 2004 Alan Horn
  • 2003 Michael D. Eisner
  • 2002 Jonathan Dolgen
  • 2001 Robert Rehme
  • 2000 Robert J. Dowling
  • 1999 Kurt C. Hall
  • 1998 Bud Stone
  • 1997 Bruce C. Corwin
  • 1996 Sherry Lansing
  • 1995 Robert Shaye
  • 1994 Walter H. Dunn
  • 1993 Stanley H. Durwood
  • 1992 Mike Medavoy
  • 1991 Sumner M. Redstone
  • 1990 Terry Semel
  • 1989 Allen Pinsker
  • 1988 Jack Valenti
  • 1987 Frank G. Mancuso
  • 1986 Michael R. Forman
  • 1985 John Rowley
  • 1984 Sidney Sheinberg
  • 1983 Bernard Myerson
  • 1982 Frank Price
  • 1981 Salah M. Hassanein
  • 1980 Bob Hope
  • 1979 Henry G. Plitt
  • 1978 Dr. Jules Stein
  • 1977 Sherrill C. Corwin
  • 1976 Carl L. Patrick
  • 1975 E. Cardon Walker
  • 1974 Henry H. Martin
  • 1973 Ted Ashley
  • 1972 Leo Jaffe
  • 1971 Samuel Z. Arkoff & James H. Nicholson
  • 1970 Irving H. Levin
  • 1969 Harry Brandt
  • 1968 Laurence A. Tisch
  • 1967 Leonard H. Goldenson
  • 1966 William R. Forman
  • 1965 Robert H. O’Brien
  • 1964 Harold J. Mirisch
  • 1963 Darryl F. Zanuck
  • 1962 Milton R. Rackmil
  • 1961 Abe Montague
  • 1960 Joseph E. Levine
  • 1959 Steve Broidy
  • 1958 Robert S. Benjamin & Arthur B. Krim
  • 1957 Joseph R. Vogel
  • 1956 Robert J. O’Donnell
  • 1955 Herman Robbins
  • 1954 Simon H. Fabian
  • 1953 Barney Balaban
  • 1952 Nate J. Blumberg
  • 1951 Jack, Harry & Albert Warner
  • 1950 Spyros P. Skouras
  • 1949 Cecil B. Demille
  • 1948 Gus S. Eyssel
  • 1947 Adolph Zukor