GRACE HIGHTOWER De NIRO & ROBERT De NIRO
Host JUJU CHANG-News Anchor, ABC's Good Morning America
SPECIAL PERFORMANCE BY Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy
Gotham Hall, NYC
Words/Images Judith Ecochard
THE NEW YORK WOMEN'S FOUNDATION's annual fund raising dinner played to a packed house this past week...
Attended by a typical eclectic Big Apple mix of top business execs, socialites- who really run/rule many of the City's charities,
|Muffie Potter Aston, Anne Bancroft, Somers Farkas, Diama L. Taylor|
|Ana L. Oliveira, Diana L. Taylor, Jean Shafiroff,|
...actors and persons with high wattage smiles---
...this year's event was a true celebration.
As we learned from Alejandro Naranjo
---a dedicated NYWF employee...donations to this worthy organization that funds largely women led non-profits here in the five boroughs...actually increased...and so, in turn, did this 501 (c)3's ability to support community based organizations.
Juju Chang was a terrific MC---of this well paced event---
|JuJu Chang applauding honoree Agnes Gund|
Among the few speakers, the mega-busy Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, got many laughs with an anecdote about the last names of the men lighting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree...truly a tip of the hat to the City's diverse population.
He also managed to remind us why he meaningfully earns his annual $1 year salary...and deftly deferred major questions concerning parking tickets to his girlfriend, NYWF Dinner co- Chair, Diana L.Taylor..."as this constitutes pillow talk in our house." OKAY.
The President/CEO of the NYWF, Ana L. Oliveira then spoke passionately about the 20-years old foundation's mission to fund community based groups that "find solutions" and are the "first responders" to women in need. For---as "you lift up women, you lift up families and communities."
Oliveira wisely added that to "remove obstacles and create opportunities" leads to economic and human recovery between the City, the foundation,,,,and the citizens who need it.
Continuing with the spirit of Big Apple can do---the Honorable Kate D. Levin, Commissioner of Cultural Affairs then warmly introduced the incredible Agnes Gund---who to us- epitomizes natural elegance, hard work, effective leadership/motivator and tenacity of spirit.
"There is nothing she (Gund who chairs plenty else, btw) won't do for the arts in NYC," Chang noted previously. Ms. Levin herself "one of the great women of this city"--- then recounted for attendees Gund's many actions that are "so compelling...(to) break the poverty cycle of women in all five boroughs" by rewarding this organization that helps women help each other from it's inception in 1986 ---to now..."an astounding achievement."
Agnes Gund's eloquent acceptance of her honor, a ceremonial stick---emphasized the importance of the arts as "a wonderful gift---and necessity of life." Citing her own family background as a template for acknowledging female power, so-to-speak, she remarked how important it is that women effect change..."not just the guys."
And as host Chang commented---as Ms. Gund received her standing "O"..."Agnes, you take our breath away."
The De Niros, the quintessential NYC power couple---were first introduced by Diana L. Taylor...as the woman "who lives with that guy and dresses like a movie star"
Then a very funny movie clip starring the icon Movie Director-Martin Scorsese in"2 D" ---recounted the couple's generosity to the City...including their post-9/11 dedication to rebuilding downtown Manhattan with the now film circuit mainstay, the Tribeca Film Festival...that "brought people back downtown"...and played a crucial role in starting up a "new industry, jobs and bringing great food to NYC."
The De Niros both gave really good speeches...and we love how they both whipped out their reading glasses at the same time. Very Cool.
The Mister was spot-on funny...and acknowledged he was here for "what Grace does."
He also lobbied and received, a leading position on the NYWF- by pointing out that there are "no men on your Board..."
...And naturally how much more fun the Board meetings would be with a guy (dirty jokes, natural body emissions...).
Mrs. De Niro and Ms. Taylor agreed...
The actor/entrepreneur wrapped up with noting his mother "was a women's libber and she would be so proud."
Grace Hightower De Niro....thanked all---and wonderfully pointed out how this evening's event is inclusive of all races, genders and ages.
We say...bravo---to the NEW YORK WOMEN'S FOUNDATION---that aids vulnerable women who for them..."everyday is a sink or swim situation."
BONUS: A lively performance by the Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy