The Spirit of Achievement and a Mother’s Touch

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Detail of the Evelyn, on the corner of Columbus Avenue and West 78th Street, built in 1882.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Yesterday in New York it was cloudy and cooler — mid-60s — but pleasant.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”Albert Einstein

I got that from a press release about a recent charity luncheon (“The Spirit of Achievement Luncheon”). The key words for me in it are “to keep your balance …”

Co-Chairwoman Andrea Stark summed up the energy and endless efforts of this organization and the event with her opening remarks: “This has been a very trying time for all of us.  Yes we are LADIES WHO LUNCH but do NOT underestimate the power within us, because we come together with a mission!”

Women’s Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Spirit of Achievement Luncheon Co-Chairwomen Carol Roaman and Andrea Stark with Women’s Division Co-Presidents Trudy Schlachter and Terri Goldberg.
Fashion industry icon Fern Mallis was honored with the Innovator Spirit of Achievement award.

And that they do —  Since its inception, the women’s division has raised over $100 million for research for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Mothers and daughters throughout; otherwise constructive advice. We’ve publicized this particular luncheon in the past. It was “established” 68 years ago (1954). The Women’s Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is the Host. The objective is always to raise more money To Help. I put those words in caps because the matter is infinite as long as we’re around. The second objective, and the most alluring one for the day is to honor “amazing women” for their presence in our lives.

The Spirit of Achievement Luncheon was established in 1954 as a mother-daughter event. Marlene Dietrich and her daughter, Maria Riva, were honored at the inaugural luncheon, which was the first of its kind in Manhattan.

I know that sounds like a bit much but in fact there’s not enough of it going around these days — honoring amazing women. 68 years ago they chose two: Marlene Dietrich and her daughter Maria Riva.

And how was Ms. Dietrich amazing? The pure power of her personality. Some call it talent, but with Marlene, it was who she was. And she was many things. Her daughter inherited that quality.

For 67 years the Women’s Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which hosts this luncheon, has been able to honor such amazing women and the list keeps growing and growing — fortunately there are a plethora of New York women who fit the bill.

The Philanthropic Spirit of Achievement Awards were presented to Laurie M. Tisch, Founder and President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, along with her daughters — Emily Tisch Sussman and Carolyn Tisch Blodgett.
Nir Barzilai, MD, Pamela Stanley, MD, Ana Maria Cuervo, and Fernando Macian-Juan, MD, PhD. Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, Ph.D. — Robert and Renée Belfer Chair for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine — accepted the award for Change-Maker Spirit of Achievement. 

In the past, honorees have included: Eleanor Roosevelt, Meryl Streep, Barbara Walters, Sharon Stone, Christine Baranski, Anne Bancroft, Jane Pauley, Gloria Steinem, Twyla Tharp, Candice Bergen, Barbara Corcoran, Hoda Kotb, Cynthia Nixon, Whoopi Goldberg, Cindy Crawford, Katie Couric, Vera Wang, Iris Apfel, Shirley MacLaine, Elsa Peretti, Joyce Carol Oates, Diane von Furstenberg, Patricia Field, Susan Lucci, Glenn Close, Diane Sawyer, Nora Ephron, Evelyn Lauder, Jill Martin, Donna Karen. And those are all just the “famous” ones.

Lauren Gutfreund and Stephanie Naimer.
Kathy Gantz.
Women’s Division Co-President Trudy Schlachter.
L. to r.: Pamela Morgan; Liz Gaelick and Amanda Steiger.
Mary Loving and Kathy Gantz.
L. to r.: Jackie Suarez and Nicole Friedman; Amit Shashank and Nancy Zuccarini.
Nicole Weishoff, Marla Schaefer, and Danielle Weishoff.
Judy Katz and Diane Grisell.
Katie Grishman, Helen Johnson, and Zita Rosenthal.
L. to r.: Julia Kiel and Nathalia Torres; Kelly Copeland and Melissa Ceriale.
Risa Whipple and Kendra Pariseault.
L. to r.: Karen Mandelbaum and Melissa Ceriale; Mary Cirillo Goldberg and Kathleen Kearns.
Renee Pappas and Betty Klein.
Samantha Smalling and Kori Mallett.
Nate Anderson, Ashley Carr, and Ron Bruer.
Terri Goldberg, Sheree Mandelbaum, Debra Raymond, Andrea Lustig, Alexandra Lustig, Nicole Pasternak, and Melissa Ceriale.
Susan Gutfreund and Adriana Ching.

I recently read Tina Brown’s excellent The Palace Papers: Inside The House of Windsor – The Truth and the Turmoil. Tina Brown is another one of those “amazing” women, confirmed, for me, by this book. Of course there’s the Queen, and her mother the Queen Mother and her sister Princess Margaret. Two generations over a century. More amazing.

The book is a classic piece on Family — royal and otherwise in these modern times. It is about The Royal Family, but if you take away that term and simply look at the lives of each member and their relationships to one another, you see what you see in most families: a cacophony of genetically related personalities.

The Royals are more a business family, but the business is public tribute. It is no longer political in the governing sense. One of the most interesting — and another amazing woman — is Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, the second-born child of Queen Elizabeth.

Another mother/daughter duo — Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, and Queen Elizabeth.

Reading about Princess Anne, I came away thinking that she’d probably be the best successor to her mother. She has a rather serious countenance no nonsense is the term you might associate with it. But she’s married twice, both to handsome men, and lives a very constructive life, and setting a good example.

Anne, Princess Royal in 2021.

She’s an extremely serious woman, as serious as she looks. She’s a brilliant equestrienne and the first member of the Royal Family to compete in the Olympic Games. She’s an excellent ambassadress for her mother. She’s also known for her ability to be frank with her opinions.

Brown reports the incident when as a member of International Olympic Committee and having been given the honor of accepting the Olympic Flame in Athens. It was during that moment with the Princess present, that another Committee member made a “long-winded interjection” that went on and on.

When finished, Princess Anne, whose mike was still on, interjected in her very “brusque” voice: “I think this person is probably the most stupid person in world sport.”

Brown quotes Princess Anne’s daughter recalling her mother “coming back from royal evening engagements in her ball gown and full makeup, putting on her Wellies and going out to feed the chickens and get eggs.”

Princess Anne riding at an event in the Netherlands (1980).

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