Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Around Town

with Donna Shor 

Pumped-up fans gyrated in place or jumped on the Beach Boys’bandstand to join Mike Love as he sang “California Girls” and “Surfin’USA.” It was The Beach Ball benefit for the Children’s Scholarship Fund, heldat the imposing McLean mansion of Jim Kimsey, co-founder and chairmanemeritus of America Online.

The Beach Boys’ concert was threeyears in planning. It has been that longsince Jim Kimsey, Steve Case, Joe Robert and Raul Fernandez combinedtheir dot.com-plus-real-estate-piggy-banks to bid $150,000 for a concert theBeach Boys donated to an auction benefiting Best Friends.

The gift just keeps on giving: BestFriends got the original $150,000, andmore than $300,000 was raised when thepromised concert at Jim’s spectacular newhouse drew a crowd for yet another charity,the Children’s Scholarship Fund.

The fund’s national co-chairmen andfounders are Ted Forstmann, a majorphilanthropist, and John Walton, ofthe Wal-Mart family, who each gave$1 million in 1998, and have funded34,000 scholarships to date. Joe RobertJr. is chairman of the WashingtonScholarship Fund, which is a partnerprogram, and serves 1,200 low-incomechildren in this area. All proceeds fromthe concert were matched dollar for dollar by the Children’s Scholarship Fund,to benefit the Washington program.

The Beach Boys, (who used theirone day off between Palm Beach andWisconsin gigs to keep their promisehere) played for more than an hour anda half as beach balls floated lazily overhead,batted between band and listeners.Burgers, hot dogs, candy apples and saltwater taffy went untouched as the legendaryband captivated the crowd.


Arena Stage’s rollicking bipartisan satire of James Bond, “Dr. Thunderfinger: Living TwiceAnother Day is Not Enough,” benefited its community engagement and education divisions. Castmembers at the 11th annual benefit on May 12 included former Rep. Fred Grandy as “James Blond,”E. Faye Butler as “Honeymoney,” Kitty Kelley as “Kitty Galore,” NPR’s Nina Totenberg, andformer Sen. Fred Thompson.

Clockwise from left: Nina Totenberg, Fred Grandy and Susan Stamberg; Franklin D. Raines;Sen. Daniel Akaka, International Spy Museum Executive Director Peter Earnest and Rep. Bart GordonPhotos by Scott Suchman

This was a rare Washington partywhere conversation counted for nothing,but everyone had a ball, (literally,because the invitations went out withbeach balls attached.)

Mandy and Mary Ourisman wereswaying and dancing in place, otherguests spotted were Lynne Cheney, JackKemp, Senators Frank Lautenberg andJohn Breaux, Susan Hurley Bennett,Fred and Marlene Malek, and evenCardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington. (No, we didn’tactually spot him dancing, but for all weknow he may have snapped his fingers tothe music a few times.)

American University held the gala opening of the Haroldand Sylvia Greenberg Theatre, made possible by a $2 milliongift from the Greenbergs to the university on May 1.More than 275 guests were treated to a student salute to25 years of musicals performed at the university, followed byfeatured artist Hershey Felder performing his one-man show, “George Gershwin alone.”

Left: Pianist Hershey Felder with Harold and Sylvia Greenberg at the gala openingof the new Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre at American University.

The Kennedy Center’s 11th annual gala began with a 5 o’clock cocktailreception in the Concert Hall Foyer, then continued in the Roof Terrace withdinner in a beautifully lighted setting by David Tutera that flattered everyone.Everyone seemed to know it, because they ignored the organizers’ pleas tosit, preferring to linger between tables, wanting to see and be seen.

One of the loveliest gowns was the deep pink strapless Oscar de la Renta witha crystal-trimmed shawl worn by Sheila Johnson (whose former husband, BobJohnson, founded the BET Network.) She is about to open a super swank bedand breakfast spa near Middleburg.

Also there: Mitzi (Mrs. Frank) Perdue, who brought her daughter-in-law as her date.

Seen: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Buffy and Bill Cafritz,Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Gilan Tocco Corn and her husband Dr.Milton Corn, Shirley and Al Small, Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn, formerSpeaker of the House Tom Foley, Elizabeth and Dick Dubin, Walter Shorenstein, Nicole Miller,Ann and Vernon Jordan, Lolo Sarnoff, Pat Sagon, Wayne and Catherine Reynolds,Vicki and Roger Sant, former ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith,and the ambassadors of Spain, Denmark, and Colombia and their wives. GabriellaMoreno, wife of the Colombian ambassador, wore a romantic dark rose red gown(“from a friend who is a designer in New York”) trimmed with delicate silken petalsof the same fabric. The color was particularly appropriate because Colombia isfamous for its roses.

Over $300,000 was raised at the Washington Area Chapter ofChildhelp USA’s ninth annual gala at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corneron April 5. On hand were Childhelp USA celebrity ambassadorsKathleen Turner (who introduced a new video in which she appearedas narrator) and football Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood, along withcelebrity guest “SafetyBot,” the AOL robot who teaches internetsafety to children.

Clockwise from left: Gala Executive Committee member Christopher Ross (Bank of AmericaPrivate Bank, McLean), Jennifer Ross, and Kathleen Turner, ChildhelpUSA Ambassador; ScottDavies (IBM) and his wife Marcia Davies, Gala Co-Chairman Suzanne Singer (Option One) ofPotomac; longtime Childhelp patrons Martha and Dwight Schar (NVR) and Kristina Caplin, all ofMcLean. Photos by Lynn Hornor Keith

Gilan Tocco Corn is an internationally- known concert pianist, a many-talentedlady, and a very busy one, but she always has time for the major lovesin her life, especially her distinguished husband, Dr. Milton Corn, her children,and music.

Through her love of music, she benefits all of us. Case in point: the recentGala Evening for the Benefit of Young Concert Artists of Washington (whichshe chairs) at the residence of the ambassador of Japan.

Young Concert Artists discovers and launches the careers of extraordinaryyoung musicians, including many great performerswho started with the organization: Emanuel Ax, Dawn Upshaw, PinchasZukerman, the Tokyo Quartet and Murray Perahia.

This not-for-profit group provides financial help, moral support, professionaladvice and performance opportunities for talented young musicians,many of whom have been heard here through the Kennedy Center and theFord Motor Company.

At the gala, Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato and Mrs. Kato welcomedthe guests, as did Barbara Kapusto, the benefit chairman, and SusanWadsworth, who is the director of Young Concert Artists.

Cocktails and a concert began the evening, with violinist Shunsuke Satoand marimbist Naoko Takada, and Robert Koenig on the piano. The triodrew long applause for the musicality and quality of tone they drew from theirvery diverse instruments.

The meal was exquisite, with dish after dish a composition more like apainting than food.

Among the guests: Dr. Ahmed and Judy Esfandiary (he is Gilan’s cousin),France and Rolf Graage, Wilhelmina Holladay, Esther Coopersmith, MaryMochary, Nash Schott and Aniko Gaal Schott, the Martin Feinsteins,the Joseph Hornings, Ann Stock, Sylvia and Jim Symington (who is busilypreparing for a fall event through the American Russian Cultural Cooperationwhich he chairs), Nancy Folger and Dr. Sidney Werkman and the WallaceRobinsons.

The Smithsonian Craft Show Preview Party at the National Building Museum on April 23featured eight cakes by Occasions Caterers that replicated the look of some of the crafts onexhibit in the show. Ocassions owner Eric Michael worked with the Smithsonian Women’sCommittee to create the look of the event and the American Craft-inspired menu; pastry chefMartin Frowd sculpted the eight cakes. Below: Teapot cake by Occasions Caterers modeledon Hayne Bayleff’s whimsical teapot from the Smithsonian’s Craft Show.

A Who’s Who of Washington attended the Mosaic Foundation’s sixthannual benefit dinner “Crossroads of Civilizations,” at the National BuildingMuseum: a celebration of accomplishment and hopes for the future withhauntingly beautiful music.

Wives of the Arab ambassadors have traditionally not played a very publicrole in the life of this city, but that all changed with the creation of theMosaic Foundation, an American charitable organization run by ambassadorialspouses dedicated to improving the lives of women and children and to increasingthe understanding of the culture and history of the Arab world.

In only five short years, the foundation has donated $5 million to worthycauses in the U.S., Arab countries, Africa and Eastern Europe. Recipients include:the UN Foundation to support women and children suffering from the AIDSepidemic in Africa, Save the Children, St. Jude’s Research Hospital and theSusan G. Komen Foundation National Race for the Cure, the International RedCross, and Turkish Earthquake Relief.

The National Parks Conservation Association held a gala tribute, “Saluteto Parks,” on April 9 at the Grand Hyatt Washington, to honor individualswho have made a difference for our national parks. Award recipientsincluded Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, for his recent initiative todouble Canada’s system of national parks; philanthropist/author DavidMcCullough (the Robin W. Winks Award), and philanthropist LauranceRockefeller (the William Penn Mott, Jr. Park Leadership Award).

From left: David McCullough & Sen. Patrick Leahy; Sen. George Mitchellpresenting Sheila Copps, Min. of Canadian Heritage with World Park Leadership Award.

The evening benefited the Grameen Foundation USA, and honored its founder,Bangaladeshi native Muhamammad Yunus, for his expansion of the principleof microfinancing through the Grameen (“village”) banks. These mini-loans tobuy a cow, a sewing machine or chickens provide income for a family, and canchange lives in this powerful but simple poverty reduction program.

Benefit chairman Rim Abboud of Lebanon welcomed guests, and NerminFahmy of Egypt, benefit vice chair, expanded the themes for these regionsthat have often been called the “cradle of civilization,” and are made up of atrue mosaic of many colors and nations, as Malea Abdel Rahman of thePalestinian National Authority attested.

Honorary Chair Laura Bush sent a message hailing the vision of the Mosaicgroup’s founder, Princess Haifa Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and the work ofthe Mosaic Foundation.

Music of the Arab world was brought by world-renowned conductor SimonShaheen, its soaring harmonies thrilling listeners (and the full program notesfocusing it for Western ears.)

The active Arab spouses here today seem far-removed from the old stereotypeof veil-clad women who lie about all day scoffing sweets. EnergeticZohor Jazairy, wife of the ambassador of Algeria, who is still a newcomer onthe Washington scene, had a first child born shortly after she arrived here, andhas accomplished an amazing mastery of English in a few short months. Withher husband, she organizes dinners where international figures of substanceexchange ideas at the long-time Algerian residence, the magnificent manse “TheElms,” Perle Mesta’s former home, where former president Lyndon Johnson andhis wife Lady Bird later lived.

Many of these Arab spouses speak well and often in public, to familiarizeothers with their world. Faika Atallah of Tunisia lectures on her country and itsplace in history, and she and her ambassador husband Hatem work to perpetuateunderstanding through “The Hannibal Club,“ honoring one of theirmost illustrious heroes. The club, along with George Washington Universityand the Embassy of Tunisia, recently held a panel discussion at the universityon the past history of the region, and its relevance to the present. The dialogueswere led by G.W. president Dr. Stepehn Trachtenberg, and by Dr. Akbar S.Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies there.

Young Concert Artists held their annual gala on April 9 at the residence of Japanese ambassadorRyozo Kato and Mrs. Kato. The gala provides sponsorship for the YoungConcert Artists series at the Kennedy Center, as well as for inspiring educationalin-school visits by young virtuosos.

From left: Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato and Barbara Kapusto, Event Chair;Susan Sowalsky, Gilan Tocco Corn, Young Concert Artists Chair, and Toshiko Kato.Photos by John Aronson

The lively wife of the ambassador of Egypt, Nermin Fahmy, (who last yeartook a very active role in the re-doing of their embassy), recently held an educationalforum on womens’ health issues sponsored by the embassy.

Rima Al-Sabah of Kuwait spoke recently at the American News Women’sClub, erasing some of the misconceptions Westerners often have about theMiddle East. (During her school years abroad, she heard such comments as“You can’t be an Arab! With that blonde hair you must be Swedish!” and “Whenyou go to school, where do you park your camel?”). She updated us on thedemocratic institutions of Kuwait, the freedom of speech and of the press, thefreedom of women to obtain divorces on an equal footing with men, and theleading role of women in government and banking institutions. (True, in ananomaly, women do not yet have the vote in Kuwait, but Rima says, “Waituntil 2004!”)

The Al-Sabahs held a forum earlier this year for Wharton Business Schoolalumni as well as members of Vital Voices Global Leadership Institute with13 Kuwaiti women prominent in public and political leadership who were herefor Vital Voices training. Again, through discussions of Kuwait, its strengths, andthe challenges it faces, a searchlight was turned on this progressive country.

Approximately 150 women attended a luncheon on May 8 co-hosted by RefugeesInternational and Her Majesty Queen Noor at Hillandale Mansion in Georgetown, the second ina series for Washington women interested in advancing humanitarian causes. Queen Noordiscussed her newly released book, “Leap of Faith,” and Refugees InternationalBoard Chair Jim Kimsey and President Kenneth Bacon led a discussion on the humanitarianissues surrounding Iraq.

From left: Queen Noor; Hosts and Refugees International Vice Chairs Trish MallochBrown and Eileen Shields-West.Photos by Gay Cioffi

“In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,”an exhibition of visual arts dedicated to celebrating the civil rights leader, opened atthe Smithsonian Institution’s International Galley on May 15. The exhibit features115 works by prominent and emerging artists, including Gordon Parks, AndyWarhol, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Rockwell, and Robert Rauschenberg, andwill remain on view until July 27.

Above: Painter Sherman Watkins and civil rights photographer CharlesMoore view their works in the companion book to the exhibit.

Another energetic lady was in town recently, blonde and glamorous MarciaIsrael-Curley was here at Borders Bookstore to sign "Defying the Odds:Sharing the Lessons I learned as a Pioneer Entrepreneur."

She began as "a young blonde wriggling along in the Copacana conga linewith Desi Arnaz" until she caught the eye of 20th Century-Fox honchoJoe Schenck, and sojourned in Hollywood, but her “stardom” eventually came in theretail field.

She is the visionary behind a California retailing legend, the modernspecialty store, that began in a shoebox of a shop so narrow (7 feet!) that therewas only space for five letters on the sign, and on a whim she named it Judy’s.By the time she sold it in 1989, it was a major public company with 104 storesand 2000 employees. The story of how she did it provides a business blueprintfor any budding entrepreneur (or a seasoned one, as often the old hands stolesome of her pet gimmicks.)

Her book reads like a novel, and her description of hiding in a broom closetto eavesdrop on a meeting (where she had been banned-by the “suits” thatwere planning to highjack her company) makes fun reading. She has been decorated byforeign nations, won awards in America, and hobnobbed with princesand potentates, and she is a very rich lady who is a noted philanthropist.

Helping welcome guests was husband Jim Curley, an actor seen latest inClint Eastwood's In the Line of Fire. Attendees were the Ambassador ofAfghanistan and Hafizah Shahryar (her longtime friends), the Ambassador ofPakistan and Mrs. Qazi Liz and Dick Dubin, Mary and Mandy Ourisman,AES Sr. Vice President Sarah Slusser, and photographer Marjory Train, whowill soon have a show in Paris. Checking in from Palm Beach were Alexandra andArnaud de Borchgrave, to order a book sent to them there.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole gave opening remarksat a cocktail reception benefiting Second Chance EmploymentServices at Vida Restaurant on May 7. Second Chance is a non-profitthat provides job training and placement services to at-riskwomen in the Washington Area. Founded by Dr. Ludy Green, theorganization has successfully trained and placed hundreds ofunderprivileged women in professional jobs since its inceptiona little over a year ago.

Left: Dr. Ronald Perlman, board chairman of Second Chance, Dr.Ludy Green, founder of Second Chance, and former Sen. Bob Dole.Photos by John Aronson

Is there an item you think “Around Town” should know about? Send an e-mail todonnashor@aol.com


Home  |   Where To Find Us  |   Advertising  |   Privacy Policy  |   Site Map  |   Purchase Photos  |   About Us

Click here to go to the NEW Washington Life Magazine