By Sue Pascoe
If every resident of the Palisades donated just $10 and one volunteer hour, we wouldn’t need to fundraise nor worry about manpower,” said Daphne Gronich, who is completing her third year as president of the Palisades Americanism Parade Association (PAPA).
Gronich, who previously served as PAPA treasurer, has spent countless hours securing permits and insurance, helping with organization and fundraising, directing volunteers, even storing the parade marching banners in her garage.
Asked what was the one thing about the parade/day that most Palisadians don’t understand, Gronich replied, “How much work goes into all aspects of the parade, concert and fireworks and how few people actually do the work—and how much it costs.”
“Even after all the public appeals, news articles and conversations, people still take the day for granted,” said Gronich, who oversees a dedicated 20-person PAPA committee.
Born in New York, Gronich was raised in Europe after her father, Army Lieutenant Colonel S. Frederick, served during World War II. When it ended, he researched German documents for evidence of war crimes, which led to the “Hill Project” investigations conducted by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
Gronich graduated from the American School of Paris with a degree in international affairs, earned a juris doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law in New York, and later a master of laws degree from New York University. She worked at an intellectual property firm in New York before moving to Los Angeles and eventually becoming the head of intellectual property at Fox Group.
Gronich took a year off when her son, Eli, was born 13 years ago and then worked as general counsel for toy company MGA Entertainment. She left the company in 2007 to care for her mother.
While Eli was at Palisades Elementary, Gronich co-chaired the booster club and was on the charter school’s governing council. Now at Revere, she serves on the PRIDE booster club and is the parent representative on the Charter Council.
“The biggest challenge is finding enough time to juggle all my volunteer duties with family time,and time to work on individual legal consulting projects [in the intellectual property area],” she said. “I’ve also been doing a lot of pro bono work.”
Gronich is also president of the Palisades Charter Schools Foundation, an organization that works to unite and support the five public schools in the Palisades (as well as Palisades Complex members Topanga Elementary and Kenter Canyon Elementary).
Gronich and her husband, Paul Nagle— a longtime television executive and faculty member in the UCLA Department of Film, Television and Digital Media—moved to the Palisades in 1997.
What’s the best part of being the PAPA president? “Getting to meet and work with so many icons of our community,” said Gronich, adding that her biggest struggle is “to get people to donate money to fund the festivities or to take an hour or two out of personal time to help the small group of people who make it happen.
“Some of the PAPA volunteers have been doing what they do for more than 20 or 30 years because others don’t feel that they can devote the time,” said Gronich. “People like Sylvia Boyd [who organizes parade volun- teers] and Rich Wilken [who works on the race, announces the parade and oversees the fireworks show] are stretched thin.”
She noted that many people feel tired after supporting their children’s activities, schools and other nonprofits during the year and that “they don’t want to work the Fourth.”
Gronich acknowledges that “July Fourth is a family holiday and a great opportunity to bring families and friends together—to enjoy it and to work together to volunteer to make the festivities happen.” More specifically, “that the Fourth is part of what makes our community such a great place to live.”
Next year, Gronich looks forward to handing the reins to someone new. “I will support whoever takes over and will help them in anyway I can,”she’s said. “My family has supported me and enabled me to head the parade/fireworks committee and to devote hundreds of hours to it for the past few years. But, it’s time for us to be able to be able to plan a summer trip that can start before July fifth.”