When I was in New York last month, I was invited to an early morning event that “celebrated women,” hosted by The New York Women’s Foundation. It sounded classy, so, of course I was in. Then I noticed that the invitation said “7:30 sharp” and I couldn’t imagine just who would want to be someplace that early, especially in New York, where it takes at least an hour, door-to-door, to get anyplace. So, I almost dropped-out. But then I realized that I was staying literally a block away from the Hilton that it was being held at, (there are at least nine Hiltons in Manhattan,) and I was back in.

All photos by Karen Salkin.

I was overwhelmed when I entered—there were about two thousand women, (and a handful of men,) in business attire, looking awake and ready to go! I was in shock! Perhaps I shouldn’t have spent the previous evening in a bar/lounge, no matter how much fun I was having. (I wasn’t imbibing, of course, since I don’t drink—I was just out later than I had planned, expending precious energy. Can you see why I wasn’t one of the “powerful women?”)

Anyway, this event was quite impressive, even to someone who’s attended more events than one would think possible, on both coasts and major cities in-between. It was held in the gigantic Grand Ballroom of the official New York Hilton, and had big screens throughout the room so that we all could see the speakers in front of the dais, as well as hear them. And, I’m happy to report, although there were still very many texters in attendance, most of the assemblage was paying rapt attention to what was being said, which was pretty important stuff.

There were too many speakers and honorees to tell you about in-depth, so here’s a list of them, followed by the website link where you can find everything you’d like to know about the foundation: Ana Oliveira,President & CEO, NYWF; Jennifer Buffett, President, NoVo Foundation; Maria Hinojosa, Anchor & Managing Editor, NPR’s Latino USA; Faith Ringgold, Artist, Activist & Feminist; Sade Baderinwa, ABC Eyewitness News; Carolyn Buck Luce, Chair, NYWF Board of Directors; Taina Bien-Aimé, Secretary, NYWF Board of Directors; Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, Treasurer, NYWF Board of Directors; Hyatt Bass (a name worthy of Gossip Girl,) NYWF Board of Directors; Susan R. Cullman, NYWF Board of Directors, Co-chair of Celebrating Women® Breakfast; Anne E. Delaney, NYWF Board of Directors; Antoinette E. La Belle, NYWF Board of Directors; and Yvonne S. Quinn, NYWF Board of Directors. Whew!

Okay, no matter how classy and intellectual I’m trying to be, you know I was all about the food. The hotel did breakfast an absolutely brilliant way. (Or maybe it was de rigeuer for early morning events—I wouldn’t know—I’m never out and about that early. Although I am always up and at ‘em in the wee hours, writing away for you guys to have something fun to read about!) When we entered the Ballroom, it was laid-out for us already, so the proceedings could just begin—there was no “just dining” time where the serving would have gotten in the way of the speeches. As I said, brilliant.

We each had a plate of gorgeous, colorful fruit surrounding the main dish—an apple-cranberry bread pudding on vanilla sauce. It was delish! Each setting also had a full water and an orange juice, which made the serving of coffee the only busy work for the servers during the speeches. Also on the table, for the whole group, were mini-breakfast pasties: danishes in several fruit flavors, blueberry muffins, croissants, and bagels, with pre-packaged cream cheeses and jams and jellies. So simple, and all anyone could need at that hour. (I later realized that they set it so early because all these powerful women have jobsI guess that’s how they got to be so important to begin with.)

As if that repast and schmoozefest weren’t enough, several of us then got ushered into the VIP post-breakfast reception,which had on-hand full-sized breakfast snacks, like bagels and muffins. I could not believe it. And with even better goodie bags than we received at the earlier breakfast. (Sadly, my bag, that was chosen at random, was missing the best gift that seemed to be in the rest of them. Maybe if I were a more powerful female…) This reception was really great because we got to actually talk to the honorees/observe them up-close and personal.

I must mention one person who was seated at my table, even though he’s male. But he was one man I really wanted to thank for something. He’s John Mahdessian, the president of Madame Paulette’s, the luxury cleaning specialist in Manhattan. I’ve never been to it, but earlier this year, at yet another event, I received a couple of their easy-to-use Professional Stain Removal Kits. I filed them away for an emergency, hoping none would ever come.

But, when a wonderful friend took me to the recent Rod Stewart-Stevie Nicks concert at the Hollywood Bowl, just such an emergency presented itself. The short version is that someone stepped on a container of very greasy salad dressing, exploding it, which splattered the mess all over my favorite turquoise cotton dress. I was crushed, but had to sit through the whole second half in that condition. I didn’t get home until almost four hours later, and tore open my Madame Paulette’s kit, even though I had little or no hope of it being able to alleviate the horrible set-in grease stains. After I used the suggested part of the kit for awhile (in truth, this mess really required two kits, but what the heck,) I put in in the washer, still dreading the outcome. But the stains were mostly gone!!! I’m still shocked over the terrific results.

So, when another tablemate pointed John out to me, I just had to thank him. He probably hears stories like that all the time, but you know me—I always have to give props where they’re due. And Madame Paulette’s was due major kudos from me and my poor little dress.

So, on every level, the Celebrating Women Breakfast was a super worthwhile event, and one that I’m glad I made the effort to get out of bed for.


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