Never has the adage “If you want something done, ask a busy woman” so aptly fit the description of the honorees at the June 25 Women’s Forum of New York 2013 Elly Award Luncheon at The Plaza, which honored Maria Cuomo Cole and Pat Mitchell.
Formidable women with paragraph-long rosters of accomplishments, both were honored for their commitment to the Forum’s Fund which was founded by philanthropist-activist Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer. The fund enables women over 35 who have had their education derailed to finish their schooling and become leaders themselves.
Elly Award presenter to Pat Mitchell, Glenn Close — winner of multiple Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes plus six-time Academy Award nominee — introduced the award-winning career journalist, film producer and executive as “a force of nature, goddess of networking, passionate advocate of women.. holder of black belt in accessories and coordinated outfits who had the devil-may-care confidence to use a shower curtain as a shawl at a major public event.”
When the laughter and applause by the fashionable assemblage abated, Mitchell, winner of multiple Emmys, five Peabody Awards, inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and currently producer and president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, modestly thanked the guests for their support, generosity and minds… and left the stage to waves of applause.
New York Forum president, Doris Meister, president of US Markets for BNY Mellon Wealth Management, introduced former New York State First Lady Matilda Raffa Cuomo — award presenter to her daughter Maria Cuomo Cole — who cheerily announced: “This is so impressive a crowd. There are so many men! I thank you as a grandmother of thirteen — one boy! “ adding “ Maria is tough! I am blessed with three wonderful daughters. My two sons are O.K. too.” Seated at the VIP table, former New York State governor Mario Cuomo — with whom I reminisced during the reception — was schepping nakhas. I don’t know the Italian equivalent, but it is an expression with which he is no doubt familiar. Giving her mother a hug, Maria Cuomo Cole escalated the family love fest by touting her husband Kenneth [Cole] as “wonderful.”
TV producer and legendary chair of The Elly Awards, Lucy Jarvis, got a standing ovation by the ballroom’s guests who joined in singing “Happy Birthday” in honor of her 96th. “If you give your all to the organization, you too can be 96” declared a beaming Jarvis. Among the high powered crowd, honorary co-chair and past honoree Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, author of the hefty coffee table book “Landmarks of New York,” which she dedicated to me in Yiddish! Director of the Trust for the National Mall in Washington D.C., in 2010, she was appointed by President Obama as a Commissioner of The American Battle Monuments Commission. At her side, her amiable husband Carl Spielvogel, appointed by President Bill Clinton”as [2000-2001] U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic.
For a cerebral dessert, Tony Award winner playwright, performer, feminist and activist Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” led the honorees in a conversation “On Leadership.”