“Appreciating that education is the key to success in every industry, we pride ourselves to helping high potential women over the age of 35 to return to college after their education has been disrupted by life’s adversities,” Ami Kaplan, president of The Women’s Forum of New York, told the 400 guests at its 5th Annual Elly Awards Luncheon at The Plaza.
Moderated by Emmy winning “Inside Edition” Anchor Deborah Norville, award presenters were Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and author three best-selling books and songwriter, singer, activist Judy Collins who was lauded for “her evoking 1960’s idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices.”
Elly Award recipient was award-winning journalist, editor, author Tina Brown, CEO of Live Media and Women in the World. Brown’s curriculum vitae includes the digital news site “The Daily Beast” with Barry Diller, Editor-in-chief of “Tattler,” “Vanity Fair,” “The New Yorker.” She also authored the 2007 best-seller bio “The Diana Chronicles” and in 2000 Queen Elizabeth awarded Brown “The Commander of the Order of the British Empire” for her services to journalism.
Also honored was Emily Rafferty, president emerita, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since 2011, she has served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in 2015 was elected chair of the National Board of Chairs, currently serves as Chairwoman of NYC & Company, the City’s official tourism and marketing agency, is a member of the Board of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and — it was noted — “is frequently named one of New York’s most influential women.”
Recapping the Forum’s history, Linda A. Willett, president of the Women’s Forum’s Education Fund, explained: “Twenty-eight years ago the fund embarked on a mission to help women who had overcome serious hardships in their lives to realize their dream of an education… We have been able to achieve real momentum …helping these women through the Elly Awards [which] have made a significant impact on the lives of women, their families and on their communities… earn a degree [and] take their place in the work world.”
Grants are awarded to several women over the age of 35—often single parents, economically disadvantaged and struggling with the rising costs of a college education— who, after suffering great adversity and an interruption in their education, are now pursuing undergraduate college degrees. To date, 172 women have been honored by The Education Fund.
The Elly Award was named after founder Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer — NYC Commissioner for Consumer Affairs in the 1970’s, parks commissioner, Hadassah honoree and more. I had the pleasure of being at her Park Avenue residence in 1997 for the launch of “The Bordello Cookbook” (Moyer Bell) at which a bewigged good sport Guggenheimer and book’s author Jo Foxworth — in red feather cape — welcomed jaw dropping guests — including Dr. Ruth Westheimer — into a transformed bordello-ish waiting room.
Among the Luncheon’s VIPs: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, television producer Lucy Jarvis, Cathie Black, former chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, Marcy Syms, former chair and CEO Syms Corporation, Laura Walker, President and CEO New York Public Radio, Ann Sarnoff, President of BBC Worldwide North America and Joe Scarborough Co-Host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”