Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Around Town
with Donna Shor

Like manna from heaven, unrestricted grants of $25,000 apiece were awarded to 100 lucky and deserving K-12 teachers by the Milken National Educator Awards presented by the Milken Family Foundation during a black-tie celebration at the National Building Museum on May 5 . The awards were part of a three-day conference on education which included senators and government officials and was funded by the Foundation, chaired by education pioneer Lowell Milken.

Michael Milken, who is one of the Foundation's directors, was dubbed “The Junkbond King” by the press when he ran afoul of the securitieslaw some years ago. He served his time when Martha Stewart was only a kitchen guru.

No Johnny-come-lately to philanthropy, Michael Milken began donating to medical and educational causes in the 70's, after his father was diagnosed with melanoma. He further widened the cause of cancer research when his mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1982. He has long been an advocate of prostate cancer surgery, and most recently, frustrated by the slow research progress against serious diseases, he has launched Faster Cures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions.

Hermes held a roof-top party at the Hay-Adams benefiting Zero to Three, which provides education, training and development assistance to families to promote the healthy development of children. Photos by Kyle Samperton

To date, the family's philanthropies, which were formalized by establishing the Foundation in 1982, have included approximately $750 million donated to a wide range of educational and medical programs. Over 2,000 teachers have benefited from the grants totaling $50 million, of which $2.5 million was presented at the gala.

Teacher magazine has called these awards “the Oscars of Teaching,” and appropriately enough, the fully produced show and entertainment that evening was written by long-time Oscar and Emmy Awards show writer Buzz Kohan.

The 46th annual Opera Ball at the British Embassy this year helped close the Washington gala season with a luminous evening that lived up to the standards of this always prestigious event. Despite the $1,000 per ticket price, the highest in Washington for a non-political event, this ball is always wildly popular, and of course lavish.

Mary Mochary, Gilan Tocco Corn and Dr. Milton Corn, Mrs. Isaac Stern, (the attractive widow of the noted violinist) plastic surgeon Dr. Clyde Litton and Roland Celette of the French embassy were among the dinner guests at the residence of the Portuguese Ambassador. A gracious host with a great sense of humor, Ambassador Pedro Catarino, a “summertime bachelor,” held down fort while his wife Cheryl traveled to Macau to visit their daughter, and London, to visit their son.

Another temporary “bachelor host” was Swedish Ambassador, Jan Eliasson, whose wife Kerstin broke away from her ministerial duties in Stockholm long enough to be here for the Opera Ball (which they hosted beautifully four years ago at their own residence). At this one, as is their custom, they seldom missed a dance. Think Swedish Fred and Ginger and you've got it.

Edward M. Gabriel, Kathleen Linehan and Ebtisam Alshawkani

The ambassador recently presided over a jolly scene at home, when the vast lawn behind the garden was filled with children zigzagging through canvas tunnels, blowing bubbles, playing catch, ninepins and all the outdoor games imaginable. Several children and adults wore native costumes, with chaplets of flowers on their heads.

The Mid-Summer Fest was a family affair and the embassy chef produced a total of eleven huge cream cakes, decorated with traditional blueberry and strawberry garnish.

One tall, dark-haired guest drew the attention of several among the predominantly blonde and blue-eyed crowd: a Swedish Cherokee, Patrik Johansson.Although he is from North Carolina, Patrik and the ambassador explained that there are many Swedish-Indians from the Lenni Lenape tribe. In the 1600's Swedish settlers created a territory known as New Sweden, comprising chunks of what is now southwest New Jersey, parts of Delaware and parts of southeast Pennsylvania . The settlers made their homes amid the native Lenni Lenape population, and descendants sharing ancestors in the two groups can be found in those regions today.

At the recent Belgian National Day celebration, the buffet tables set up in the garden offered something for everyone—and mirrored the dual soul of Belgium with its roots both Gallic and Flemish. Hearty sausages and mustard pairing with bell-shaped beakers of foaming beer shared the spotlight with the most delicate of French pastries, both savoury and sweet. To fill in the cracks, there were platters of meatballs, quiches, little shrimpstuffed tomatoes, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, beef tartare and a host of other good things.

Ambassador Franziskus Van Daele and his wife, Christiana, welcomed almost 300 guests to their Foxhall Road embassy residence. Among them: Walter and Didi Cutler, C.D.Ward and son Quentin, Ed Wilson, Mickey Nedelcovic, Jenny and Kenneth Wu, Anna Maria Via, Jay Merchant, and from the diplomatic corps, the ambassadors of Denmark, Tunisia, Norway and Nepal, to name a few. Others were also in the crowd, including Prince and Princess Alexis Obolensky, Doda de Wolf (nee Princess Dorota Druta Lubecka) and Baroness Constantine Stackelberg.

Ericka Dunlap, a guest at another party earned her own crown as Miss America last summer. The third black title-holder since the event began, she has been traveling non-stop ever since, spreading a message of unity in diversity, and urging the importance of education for the future of this country.

At a dinner honoring her at Teatro Goldoni Restaurant, 22 year-old Ericka emphasized that the focus of the Miss America Pageant has changed since the days when it was a bathing beauty event. This is so true that disgruntled bathing suit manufacturers began a rival event, Miss U.S.A.

Keith Sky and Dana Stolzner At the Washington premiere of “The Hunting of the President,” based on the book by Joe Connason. Photos by Zaid Hamid

Guests at the dinner included Inside the Beltway columnist John McCaslin, Congressional Quarterly executive David Rapp and his wife, Lee Ann George, former ambassador from Afghanistan Ishaq Shahyrar, and the dynamic Edie Fraser, who organized an event the next day at the Capitol and a luncheon at the Library of Congress where Ericka Dunlap also addressed the groups.

“The New Demographics in America” was the topic at the Russell Senate Office Building, presented by the organizations that Edie spearheads, Business Women's Network and Best Practices in Corporate Communications.

Speakers included a raft of lawmakers, including Senators Maria Cantwell, Hillary Clinton, Debbie Stabenow, Norm Coleman, Mary Landrieu, Barbara Mikulski, and Representatives Elijah Cummings, Mike Honda, Grace Napolitano, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Their introducers were officials from corporations that have stressed the hiring of minorities in key positions. Several awards were presented including one Lifetime Service Award to Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.

An eye-opening book, the Fifth Edition of “Wow! Facts” was launched. Its compilations include some startling statistics in the scope of trends and issues not only in different regions across the country and America as a whole, but on the global scale also, zoning in on women, minority and other diversity related information.

Another recent event at the popular gathering spot, Teatro Goldoni, drew a crowd of bright media types for the launching of “Campaign Pizza” nights. Spurred by the charisma of coowner Ingrid Aielli and the Venetianbased cuisine of her husband, Fabrizio, various pizzas represented the political parties, and candidates —your vote recorded at the register to find “the next president of the United States—according to pizza lovers.” Serious stuff.

Spotted: Chris Berry, vice president of WMAL; Penny Britell, producer of the CBS Early Show; Danielle Decker Jones, editor of The Hotline; investigative reporter Dan Moldea; Edie Emery of CNN; Lisa McCormack; CQ 's David Rapp and Lee Ann George; William and Erica Mooreheads; Kevin Chaffee of the Washington Times; Ghislaine Boreel; ABC News correspondent John Wang, (in the process of moving back from Jerusalem, after several tours of Iraq duty during the last 18 months); and Jan Donovan, one very busy woman. Keeping convention guests in on the latest buzz, CQ's take on Jan's “Hollywood on the Potomac,” was converted to “Hollywood on the Charles” for Boston, and to “Hollywood on the Hudson” for New York City, for distribution to conventioneers as an insert with The New York Times.

Rolling into the restaurant for still another event were Tandy Dickerson, Garnett Stackelberg and Denise Alexander, who has just returned to the area for the school year from their Wellington (Palm Beach) home with husband Brad and 5-year-old daughter Braden. Denise was still upset over the needless fatal shooting in the news the day before of Bobo the tiger, which Denise sponsored at the zoo in Florida and cuddled when Bobo was still just a cub. Also in the group was Lynda Webster, who travels often with her husband William Webster on his speaking engagements, and helps raise funds for the Pentagon Memorial Foundation.

The goal is $17 million, of which $2.2 million has been raised since April. The memorial to the victims at the Pentagon on September 11 will feature 184 empty benches among the trees, a poignant reminder at the impact area where they died.

Robert Borosage
Robert Greenwald.

Lucy Owen and John Dickerson
Juleanna Glover-Weiss and Kirsten Pollin

Chili Amar


Do you have an item “Around Town” should know about? Send it to me at donnashor@aol.com

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