Monday, May 20, 2013

Pleasantly cool

The green above the city sidestreets after the rain. 11:30 PM. Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch.
Monday, May 20,  2013. A pleasantly cool, somewhat overcast mid-Spring weekend in New York with occasional showers on Saturday night through Sunday.

Last week in New York. Women in the news. Looking over the myriad events and activities, I noticed there were many women prominent on the calendar.
Wednesday night over at 583 Park Avenue, generationOn whose mission is to “inspire, equip, and mobilize youth to take action that changes the world and themselves through service,” honored Bank of America, Chelsea Clinton and Julie Fisher Cummings for their commitment to youth service.
Lauren Bush Lauren, Al Roker, Deborah Roberts, and Silda Wall Spitzer.
Julie Fisher Cummings and Silda Wall Spitzer. Lauren Bush Lauren and Chelsea Clinton.
generationOn's amazing honorees.
They also honored six young leaders, ages 8 through 17 with the 4th annual Hasbro Community Action Hero Awards “for creating positive change in their communities and around the world through exceptional service. It was especially interesting to see the young people individually collecting their awards with grace and poise reflecting their self-confidence in their contributions.

Silda Wall Spitzer introduced me to this organization several years ago when she founded Children For Children – an organization that has since merged into what is now generationOn. Their objective is two-fold: empowering children and young people to make decisions, take responsibility and become leaders through service to their community and to their contemporaries in the communities. Aside from inspiring the children who participate, their works potentially inspires all of us.

In her acceptance speech, Chelsea Clinton pointed out that “GenerationOn helps to empower young people by providing the tools they need to become compassionate leaders, community activists and change agents, a mission that is crucial to the future of our country.”
Chelsea Clinton.
Concetta Anne Bencivenga, Executive Director of generationOn.
There were 350 attending the evening which helped raise more than $797,000.  The evening was hosted and co-chaired by longtime generationOn advocates Kevin Arquit, Brian and Barbara Goldner and Silda. Among those attending were Deborah Roberts and Al Roker, Andrea and Maurice DuBois, Amy Carlson, and Lauren Bush Lauren. The special presenters included Silda; Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light; actress America Ferrera, and Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner.

“Connecting a new generation to service can help address today’s challenges while inspiring us all to grow as citizens,” said Andrew Plepler, Consumer Policy and Global Corporate Social Responsibility Executive at Bank of America.  “We’re honored to partner with Points of Light and support generationOn’s commitment to engaging young people to help improve our communities.” For more information,
Brian and Barbara Goldner.
Emily Friend, Elena Kiam, and Dana Buchman.
Andrew Plepler and Michelle Nunn.
Over at Michael’s last Thursday lunchtime a group of New York women at Table One were being taped for a show that Felicia Taylor produces and hosts on CNN, on women who make a difference in the community (and the world).

I’m not sure which of the ladies at this table -- which is in the bay but just around the corner from mine -- was the woman in the news for that particular segment, but I could tell from the chatter and laughter coming from the table that they were having a good time.

That motivated me to get a photo of the luncheon revel. There were nine at table. You can see Terry Allen Kramer, (center blonde between Taylor and Turner), the Broadway producer presiding, along with Kathleen Turner, Brooke Shields, and Felicia. I didn’t inquire about those who had their back to the camera because I didn’t want to interrupt their conversation. I know Margo McNabb Nederlander joined them after I took the picture.
The ladies at table for Felica Taylor's CNN show -- Terry Allen Kramer, Kathleen Turner, Brooke Shields ...
Then, that night Ginnie Mancini invited me to join her at a dinner for more than 100 guests at Jazz at Lincoln Center hosted by Sheikha Mozah of Qatar, the wife of the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa A Thani. The Sheikha is the second of the emir’s three wives (mothers of his 24 children).

Our hostess, Sheikha Mozah of Qatar.
The Sheikha, a beautiful woman who is also famous in the world for her fashion sense, is a social and political activist whose foundation offers hundreds of scholarships to Israeli Arabs. Her greater objective with her foundations is to assist all poor and underprivileged children across the world in getting an education.

After the dinner, guests moved to the Rose Theater for a concert with Chick Corea and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis.

This visit of Corea’s was a reprise of JLCO’s  collaboration with him two years ago, performing original arrangements from his songbook. Participating in the festivities were Riza Printup on hapr and Max Siegel on bass trombone.
Chick Corea at Jazz At Lincoln Center, and with the maestro, the driving force behind JLC, Wynton Marsalis.
Living History. Last Friday, over at Sistina, the great Italian restaurant on Second Avenue and 81st Street, there was a birthday luncheon for Aileen Chiang Pei, celebrating her 101st! 

Madame Aileen Chiang Pei, with her granddaughter Penelope Tang August, and her daughter Patty Tang, at her 101st birthday celebration this past Friday at Sistina.
Madame Chiang Pei was born in Beijing in 1912. When she was sixteen, her father, V. N. Chiang was made charge d’affaire for the Chinese Embassy in Rome, and then in Paris. His daughter accompanied her parents to Europe and attended a convent school in Paris.

When she was 18, in 1930, on a visit to her friend Juliana Young  (later Mrs. Wellington Koo ) in London, she met  her future husband Tsuyee Pei, a governor of the Bank of China. A widower more than twice her age, he soon after asked her father for her hand in marriage. It was not at first an interesting idea to the girl, but with her father’s strong encouragement, she married Mr. Pei the following year – 1930 -- in Paris. The couple settled in Shanghai.

In 1942, during the Second World War, Aileen came to the United States to study at Centenary College, returning to China in 1947. However, as the world knows, Mao and the Communist Revolution changed everything for China and the Chinese people, and two years later in 1949, the Peis returned to settle in New York. Tsuyee Pei died in 1982.  The Peis had one daughter, Patricia Tang. Mrs. Pei also has one granddaughter, Penelope Tang, who is an architect  with Annabelle Selldorf’s firm here in New York; and five stepchildren, one of whom is I. M. Pei, who was present at Friday’s birthday lunch. Mrs. Pei’s friend Juliana Young Koo also lives here in New York and is 106.

Samuel and Ethel LeFrak in front of their Andy Warhol portrait.
New York also lost a great lady last week when Ethel Stone LeFrak died on Tuesday at age 92. Mrs. LeFrak, wife of the late real estate builder and developer Samuel LeFrak, was, with her husband, one of the great philanthropists of the city, a benefactor of many worthy causes as well as her devotion to the Jewish community. Hospitals, museums, schools and colleges all benefited immeasurably from the LeFraks’ generosity.

I never knew Mrs. LeFrak except to say hello. She was always gracious, but most remarkable to me because of her children: Richard, who heads the family firm that was founded by his great-grandfather Maurice LeFrak in France in 1883; Denise LeFrak Calicchio, Francine LeFrak Friedberg and Jacqueline LeFrak Kosinski -- all of whom are active members of the community, following the path begun by their parents. The funeral service at Temple Emanu-El on Wednesday was attended by hundreds of prominent New Yorkers and family friends, including the Mayor – in a fitting tribute to a great lady who will be greatly missed.
Brooke Cohen, Harrison LeFrak, Karen LeFrak, Richard LeFrak, Francine LeFrak Friedberg, Rick Friedberg, Denise LeFrak Calicchio, Jennifer Bandier, James LeFrak, Peter Cohen; Foreground: Ethel LeFrak

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