The New York Women’s Foundation Gala – Who Runs The World

The New York Women’s Foundation held its annual fall gala at the Plaza Hotel with cocktails beginning at 6:30 pm. This event is predominantly attended by women except for a dashing David Duchovny who made a surprise appearance – we know he loves women from his hit series “Californication.” Duchovny has a cult following, yet he handles himself with such nonchalance one forgets the level of his stardom. However, tonight was really a celebration of the feminine spirit with Hoda Kotb “MCing” the event with honorees Barbara Desoer, CEO of Citibank, Ambassador Samantha Power and Tony award winners Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori being heralded for their incredible achievements. The Brighton Heights Youth Orchestra which is comprised of volunteers ranging in age from 4 to 17 played with an incredible drive and enthusiasm for music.

Hoda Kotb singing
Photo: Lieba Nesis

Kotb, who then took the stage, looked smashing in an asymmetrical black dress with a great gold earrings and bracelet combination. She was a vivacious mistress of ceremonies opening the evening by mouthing the words to “Uptown Funk” and thanking Duchovny for spontaneously attending. The cocktail attired event did not hinder the incredibly stylish Jean Shafiroff who was splendid in an Oscar de la Renta dress with a flowered black silk jacket. Jean chaired the event with her husband Martin and bought a table of her friends along including: Sharon Bush, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Margo Catsimatidis, Randi Schatz, Lucia Hwong Gordon, and Florence Anthony.

Chair Grainne McNamara and Kwanza Butler
Photo: Lieba Nesis

Maloney is a style star always appearing elegant and fashion forward and kudos to her for bravely opposing the Iran deal. Shafiroff, who believes in the future of women enthusiastically supports the foundation which has grown from a small group of committed women to one of the top three women’s funds in the world and the largest grantmaking foundation for women’s issues in the United States. Over its 28 years of existence more than 6 million women and more than $47 million has been distributed to help improve the health and safety of women in NYC.

Oscar Plotkin and Sharon Bush
Photo: Lieba Nesis

The dinner commenced with walking sticks being handed out to the honorees the first one being Barbara Desoer, CEO of Citibank. Prior to joining Citi, Barbara spent 35 years at Bank of America and she was recently voted one of the top 25 most powerful women in finance. Barbara is an incredible role model and she accepted her walking stick with the grace one would expect from a corporate CEO. The next honoree, Samantha Power, is the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet as well as a Pulitzer Prize winning author. She spoke of what an inspirational role model Madeline Albright was, expounding on Albright’s tenure where there were only 7 women ambassadors whereas now there are 37 out of a total of 193 – which she conceded was an improvement but still insufficient.

Margo and John Catsimatidis with Jean Shafiroff
Photo: Lieba Nesis

The most moving speech of the evening was that of Charisma DeZonie who was a beneficiary of the “Start Small Think Big” program of the Women’s Foundation which helps women involved in small businesses expand. DeZonie, was tearful as she described the fear and isolation she felt in raising two teenage kids in a big city, with no immediate family to help and the realistic likelihood that she could end up homeless. This beautiful young woman received a standing ovation and it was obvious she is still struggling to make ends meet despite her hard work and the help of the organization. These are great role models that should be championed in our society.

David Duchovny
Photo: Lieba Nesis

As the evening progressed the entertainment became slightly off color as honorees Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesore, the only female duo to win a Tony Award were introduced. Their play “Fun Home” was the first ever written about a lesbian and they bought a snippet of the play with a vocalist singing “I am changing my major to sex with Joan” and then graphically describing the anatomy of Joan. This was too overtly sexual for a charity dinner and in bad taste. Thankfully, Lisa Kron lightened the mood by accepting her award while joking that she had no idea “women lived in Chelsea.” As the evening concluded, the guests ran over to Samantha Power who was extremely approachable and unassuming, patiently posing for pictures and answering questions. This evening was a great antidote to the “Reality” of our television shows and I am praying the next series is called “Keeping up with the Barbara Desoers.”

– Lieba Nesis

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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