Cocktail hour was a whirl of networking as elegantly attired Board Members greeted guests and regaled listeners with stories highlighting the achievements of the evening's honorees - Elizabeth and Herbert Sturz and Pulitzer Prize winning couple Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof. Co-Chairs Hyatt Bass, Sayu V. Bhojwani, Aiyoung Choi, Susan R. Cullman, Grace Hightower De Niro, Somers Farkas, Carolyn Buck Luce, Margaret Munzer Loeb, Jean Shafiroff, Diana L. Taylor, Jacqueline P. Togut, and Barbara Brizzi Wynne worked hard to make the evening a success and their passion for the cause was evident as they made their way into the hall as the program began.
ABC News Correspondent Deborah Roberts hosted the evening and began by introducing Diana L. Taylor, Vice Chair of the organization. Taylor greeted the guests and extolled the virtues of the group, and how together they had made strides in the development of women and communities across NYC. Ana Oliveria, President and CEO, introduced notable guests in the room, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Mary J. Blige, then spoke passionately about the future of the organization and the new program for the New York Women's Foundation where it will work in conjunction with the Mexican Embassy, represented by a beaming Ruben Beltran, Counsel General of Mexico.
Amid bites of delicious beet salad and sliced fillet of beef, the honorees sat humbly as the introduction began, starting with Samuel Peabody who brought the lifelong work of honoree Elizabeth Sturz and her Argus Community in the South Bronx to life. Taylor introduced the inspiring Herbert Sturz to the stage where he explained that a life lived searching for justice for all was more than worth the adventure. He is the founding chairman of The After-School Corporation which works to see that all children have access to quality, free after school programs.
Abigail Disney reflected on the work of Pulitizer Prize winning married couple Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof and their book, "Half The Sky" that opened the worlds' eyes to the terror of human trafficking. In her written notes she remarked, "Thank you for all that you've both done to take us to a whole new level and into another dimension of possibility." While Nicholas delivered his appreciation via pre-recorded video, Sheryl took the stage and challenged the assemblage to look to the heart and act against mistreatment of women across the globe.
Standing ovations followed each of the honorees and the room hushed for Roberts introduction of the evening's performer, none other than the Queen of Hip Hop, Mary J. Blige. A passionate Blige, a victim of abuse herself, performed her chart-topping "No More Drama" from her soul. It was raw and powerful and rocked the room to the core.
Guest included Sharon Bush, Steven Schott of the New York Junior Tennis League, portrait artist Zita Davison, author of "Houses of the Hamptons 1880 - 1930" and architect Gary Lawrance, Guy Robinson, Elizabeth Stribling, Gayle Atkins, Anne Bass, Elizabeth Cho, Gene Schwanke, Aiyoung Choi, Felicia Taylor, Denise Rich, designer Catherine Malandrino, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Brooke Beardsley, Tuhina Day O'Connor, Muffie Potter Ashton, Bana and Faisal Hassan, Larry Kaiser, and Ann Rapp to name but a few.