An evening with the International Women’s Health Coalition
Waiters line up at Cipriani 42nd Street. 7:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Last night in New York. Snow hinted at, rain delivered.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Over Cipriani 42nd Street, the International Women’s Health Coalition honored Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and raised more than a million dollars for their work as a bridge between the international women’s health and rights movement and mainstream international health institutions.

Cocktails were called for six-thirty. We arrived about seven to photograph the arrivals. Chelsea Clinton was supposed to come but had to cancel that afternoon as she had to work late at the office. Although her boyfriend, Ian Klaus showed up. He looks, to these eyes, like a very young Bill Clinton – the image we’ve seen of the former President when he was first in college, with the long and wavy brown hair. Mr. Klaus has a very unadorned, straightforward and modest manner.

Mrs. Clinton arrived about seven-fifteen – wearing the signature black pantsuit and rose-colored blouse. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve seen her in a public and/or social situation. From the moment of arrival her attention is on her hosts and their guests who are all anxious to bid her welcome.
Hillary graciously moves through the crowd with Nicole Bidegain and her mother
It’s always like this, and it looks to the observer like a homecoming love-in is going on. There is a lot of picture taking. She is always cooperative (while moving forward) and accommodating. The face always in a broad smile, she greets warmly and in a relaxed manner, like a friend of the family who’s been away for awhile. She also has that ability to recall having met people (even if for a millisecond) before. I find her to be a marvel at human contact and expressing a sunny but serious kindness towards others.

Kathleen Turner
Kathleen Turner opened the evening. Ms. Turner – who opens on Broadway in March in the role of Martha in the revival of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is well known among the women’s groups for being an activist generous with her time in a variety of ways.

She was followed by Kati Marton, the chairman of the Board of Directors of IWHC, who talked about the pandemic of HIV among women in the world, and its relationship to the sexual education of everybody and the empowerment of women. In Nigeria, IWHC are empowering young women to protect themselves against unintended pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. In Peru they are training indigenous women to be health liaisons between their communities and the public health system. In India they are at the forefront of work to secure sexual and reproductive rights and health. Since their founding in 1984, IWHC has made more than $13 million in grants to organizations working for women’s health and rights.

Health and rights. We, in the developed nations, especially in this country, and especially among men (I’m speaking for myself and many I know) are ignorant of the horrors of the inequalities for women and children. In nations where HIV-AIDS is rampant, women are being infected from ages as early as twelve by older men whose own traditional ignorance encourages pregnancy, destroying all homes for family and community and making orphans of millions of children.

IWHC is working to improve these tormenting situations and to erase the injustices that are often as old as the civilizations. Marton talked also about human trafficking. A lot of us find it inconceivable. Although we’ve all recently been exposed to its realities in the revelations coming out of Thailand and Southeast Asia about child-stealing after the devastation of the tsunami.

Ms. Marton then introduced Senator Clinton. In 1995, Mrs. Clinton, as First Lady of the United States spoke at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing. It was considered a landmark speech heard worldwide, inspiring millions and still resonating today. She then cemented her role as a fearless, international advocate for women, with a speech to more than 2500 women in Buenos Aires. It was there, in a country where reproductive health services, including contraception, were highly controversial. Access to reproductive health services and quality family planning, she said, are central to women’s empowerment and human rights.

Last night she concentrated on the progress that men and women have made at improving the situation. She’s a glass-half-full person. All progress must be acknowledged as encouragement and none is regarded as too small, especially considering how entrenched traditional ideas and mores are among us. She outlined some of that progress that has occurred despite the forces determined to maintain the status quo of the macho sentimentalities.

After Mrs. Clinton’s speech (which caused a standing ovation)
, dinner was served. I was seated between Ann Unterberg, who is a member of the board of IWHC and Patricia Klaus, mother of Ian. Mrs. Klaus, who once taught English History at Yale, lives in Sonoma County in California on a farm which includes 8 dogs (including 6 Jack Russells) and thirty horses.

To these Eastern eyes, she is very much a California woman – shoulder-length blonde hair, sun-kissed, scrubbed and outdoorsy, gracious and friendly (although not overly) – and interested in talking about the matters at hand. I did not ask her about her son and his girlfriend or their relationships to the Clintons. I figured she’d had enough of that and I wanted to get to know her a little.

Nicholas Kristof
After dinner Kati Marton introduced us to Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times op-ed columnist who was getting “Special Recognition” by the IWHC. Mr. Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, who is also a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer in 1990 for their coverage of China’s Tiannanmen Square democracy movement. From the looks of him today, Mr. Kristof must have been almost a kid at the time of that assignment. His writings about human trafficking has done much to bring the business of sexual rights and human services to the table of discussion and political negotiation. His speech was short and gracious.

Mr. Kristof was followed by Adrienne Germain, the president of IWHC, who outlined the inequalities, injustices and health problems that the organization is actively confronting. She then introduced a nineteen-year-old Uraguayan girl named Nicole Bidegain, who is an active member of REDLAC – which is “Latin American and the Caribbean Network of Environmental Funds.”

Ms. Bidegain was a remarkable speaker. She told us she became an activist at fourteen, that she grew up in a “democratic” family in which decisions were made by all members of the family. “If I wanted to stay out late, for example, it was discussed and decided upon by all of us – my mother, my father, my brothers and me.” She has been very active through REDLAC in teaching and encouraging young people to learn about HIV/AIDS and to practice safety with condoms. Her campaign to achieve these ends was inspiring and awesome. She got a standing ovation too and for those of us in the room who worry about the future of the younger generation and the world, Ms. Bidegain served to dispel any negative notions.

Nicole Bidegain
In the crowd: Candace and Rick Beinecke, Diana and Dick Beattie, Diana Taylor, Ellen Chesler, Ann and Tom Unterberg, Inger and Os Elliott, Hannah Pakula, Sarah Rosenthal, Pete Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney, Agnes Gund, Joan Dunlop, Marlene Hess and Jim Zirin, Laura and Dick Parsons, Veronique and Bob Pittman, Maureen White and Steve Rattner, Richard Holbrook, Lisa Perry, Marnie and Blair Pillsbury, HRH Princess Firyal and Lionel Pincus, Nicholas and Sheila Platt, Elizabeth and Felix Rohatyn, Joe Klein, Peter and Susan Nitze, Alice Mayhew, Brooke and Dan Neidich, Jim Hoge, Bernard Kouchner, Wendy and Bill Luers and Robin Duke.

It was one of those serious New York evenings,
glamorous in the sense of the venue and prominent activists, many of whom are also actively social men and especially, women here in New York. The speeches were often brief, never too long, informative, and provocative. By ten, the crowd was waiting for coats (they always have a corps of white jacketed young men and women working the coatcheck, so it’s fast). And it was out into the rainy wet Manhattan night.

They’re very very busy in Southeast Asia and India now because of the tsunami. You can learn more by going to
Ann Unterberg and Ian Klaus
Kati Marton and Richard Holbrooke
Hannah Pakula
Adrienne Germain
Susan Patricof and Maureen White
Silda Spitzer (Mrs. Eliot)
Kati Marton, Adrienne Germain, and Hillary Clinton, and Elaine Wolfensohn
Sarah Rosenthal
Sarah Holbrooke
IWHC decorate the room
Hunt Slonem
Joe Klein (author of Primary Colors)
Liz Rohatyn
A table setting
Felix and Liz Rohatyn, Bernard Kouchner, and Richard Holbrooke
The bar
Dinner is served
Exiting Cipriani through the revolving doors onto 42nd Street

Co-Chairs Lesley Jane Seymour and Stanislas de Quercize
New York City’s famed Four Seasons Restaurant was transformed into a holiday winter wonderland in early December, when Volunteers of America hosted its 9th annual "A New York Christmas" gala to benefit its Hope & Hearth food voucher program. Over 400 guests enjoyed signature dishes from some of New York City’ s most acclaimed restaurants including Aleo, Alfama, Amy’s Bread, Babbo, Barolo, Bar Tonno, Beacon, Blue Hill, Boi, Bouley, Brasserie 8 1/2, Danube, Esca, Fiamma Osteria, Gotham Bar & Grill, Kitchen 22 & 82, L’Impero, Monkey Bar, Picholine, Plantain, Riingo, Spice Market, Sea Grill, and Strip House.

Guests also enjoyed a selection of fine wines courtesy of Vignaioli Selections, champagne by Perrier Jouët, and cocktails by Grey Goose Vodka and Corazon Tequilla.
New York Christmas Chefs
Leslie Jane Seymour, Editor-in-Chief, Marie Claire and Stanislas de Quercize, President & CEO, Cartier, co-chaired this year’s gala event. Rocco DiSpirito chaired the Chefs’ Committee. Michael A. Clinton of Hearst Magazines and Joseph R. Gromek of Warnaco, served as the event’s Vice Chairs and the guest auctioneer was Sebastian Clarke from Sotheby's. Cartier provided the gift bags and chef gifts. The event’s Platinum Bell Sponsors included Cartier, Hearst Corporation, Manhattan Mortgage, Marie Claire. Time, Inc., Warnaco and Linda and Timothy O'Neill.
Brooke Beardslee and Pat Haegele
Wayne Harley Brachman
Rocco DeSpirito and Fabian Gay
Pichet Ong and friend
Sebastian Clarke
Stanislas de Quercize and Pamela Fiori
Bruce Glasser and Melissa Cohn
David Bouley, Christine Goppel, and Marc Karimzadeh
Jennifer Mauer, Hallie Nath, Christena Waldman, and Leigh Feldman
Joe Gromek, Gail Pisano, and Michael Clinton
Rocco DiSpirito, Lesley Jane Seymour, Stanislas de Quercize, Linda McNeil, and Michael Clinton
John Josephson, Linda McNeil, and Carolina Zapf
A New York Christmas at The Four Seasons
Valerie Salembier and Paul Block

January 12, 2005, Volume V, Number 7
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/