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Thursday, December 2, 2010

NIGHTLIGHT: The New York Women's Foundation Hosts Stepping out and Stepping Up, Honoring Robert De Niro, Grace Hightower De Niro & Ancient Agnes Gund

It's not who you know, it's Whom You Know, and ever since the French Heritage event we have seen Jean Shafiroff everywhere in support of some of Manhattan's greatest charities. We met her because Peachy loved her dress and had to say so, and we've seen her at the Plaza for Lighthouse International and at Scully & Scully for Memorial Sloan Kettering. Jean is a sincerely warm, giving person and she suggested this event. We were especially pleased to see Ancient Agnes Gund honored! Of course Peachy is one too and so is recent Mover and Shaker Ariel Zwang.  And of course you avid readers know Whom You Know is named after Peachy's English class at Miss Porter's...

The New York Women’s Foundation®’s (NYWF) hosted its 23rd Annual Stepping Out and Stepping Up, honoring Agnes Gund as well as Grace Hightower De Niro and Robert De Niro at New York City’s Gotham Hall. Good Morning America’s Juju Chang hosted the special evening, which began with an address by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to the nearly 300 guests in attendance, which included filmmakerJane Rosenthal, Muffie Potter Aston, philanthropist Anne Bass, Mexico’s Deputy Consul General in New York Ismael Naveja Macias, as well as Gala Vice Chairs Jean Shafiroff, Susan R. Cullman, Carolyn Buck Luce and Gala Co-Chairs Hyatt Bass and Somers Farkas with husband Jonathan Farkas. Mayor Bloomberg praised Agnes as having “singlehandedly changed our city’s cultural landscape,” and the De Niros, saying “these two New Yorkers really couldn’t be more deserving…they care deeply about this city.”  You know we love Mayor Bloomberg and interviewed him at Fete de Swifty...and we interviewed Georgina first!

City Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Kate Levin presented The Stepping Up Award to Agnes Gund. Accepting her award, Agnes expressed her gratitude and emphasized her belief that “funding the arts is funding the well-being of children…to clarify who they are…to communicate who they are,” praising the hard work of her organization, Studio in a School.

Before the presentation of their award, iconic film director Martin Scorsese, who incidentally is married to an ancient (we told you Miss Porter's is everywhere) wished to say a few word about the De Niros but was unable to attend, as he was filming in Italy; a special pre-recorded video message from him played for guests, in which Martin congratulated the couple of their honor, saying “Grace, I applaud the exceptional work you’ve done…Bob, I’ve seen you give so much to the city.” Following the video, Gala Vice Chair & NYWF Board Chair Diana L. Taylor presented the award to Grace Hightower De Niro and Robert De Niro. Accepting the award, Robert remarked “I have the feeling I’m receiving this honor not for anything I’ve done, but for what Grace has contributed.” Following Robert, Grace encouraged guests, saying “let us give praise to those women…in sink or swim situations everyday…who choose to better their lives.”

As NYWF President & CEO Ana L. Oliveira explained, the Foundation is “not a traditional foundation…it is a public foundation [producing] community-based authored solutions;” Ana also reinforced the message that “when we invest in mothers, we invest in children…when we invest in children, we invest in our future.”

The New York Women’s Foundation® is a cross-cultural alliance of women, serving as a force for change for women. From the outset, the Foundation’s founders strove to identify innovative organizations that were affecting change in the communities they served for women. NYWF strategically funds organizations and programs that move women, girls and families towards long-term economic security through individual transformation and systematic change, mobilizing leaders and community partners as philanthropists and change agents. NYWF funds programs in that promote economic security and justice, health and sexual rights, positive development of girls and young women, and safety.

For further information about The New York Women’s Foundation®, please visit

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