For the ball at Donald Trump’s magnificent Mar-a-Lago Club, “The Donald” annually flies in ambassadors from Washington, who join the receiving line and lead the opening processional. Represented: Afghanistan, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, Oman, Romania, and Switzerland.
Washingtonians seen: the ball’s chief of protocol, former ambassador to Denmark Stuart Bernstein and his wife Wilma, Brad and Denise Alexander, Mary Mochary and Phil Wine, Ahmad and Judy Esfandiary, Susan Eisenhower, Frances and Marion “Joe” Smoak, and developers Lola Reinsch and Al Pierce.
In the processional, wearing the sash and badge of the Order of the Elephant from the Thai government, was Esther Coopersmith, a former U.N. representative who works constantly to better international relations, and Mary Ourisman, back after serving as U.S. ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. Mary completed 155 missions during her 30-month tenure. She repeatedly visited all seven nations where she was accredited, expanded the embassy’s outreach to locals and dove with the Navy Seals – all while managing her deskwork and cementing friendships for us. Chapeau!
Another on the superwomen roster is Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, the first woman ever to chair the American Red Cross. Always engaged in serious work but looking as if she just flew in from a visit to a Paris couturier, she served as U.S. ambassador to Finland under George W. Bush and oversees the major publishing empire she founded, Pace Communications.
Conquering the Enemy
“Call me Ted,” boomed dynamic Ted Turner to each new face at a reception hosted by Ambassador of Luxembourg Jean-Paul Senninger and his wife Louise Akerblom.
He knew many of the guests, who had worked with him since 2000, when he founded his U.N. Foundation’s Polio Advocacy Group. PAG raises funds for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, to halt polio’s resurgences and completely stamp it out. The original epidemic was so great that the valuable Salk vaccine, which had to be injected, was not in sufficient supply to meet the challenge. Dr. Albert Sabin’s oral vaccine proved easier to use, and saved millions from the scourge.
At Sabin’s side across the globe for 25 years – often administering the pills herself – was his fascinating widow, Heloisa Sabin, at 91 still working toward the goal of complete eradication.
Also honored were PAG’s top-contributor nations including Saudi Arabia (which just committed $30 million), Germany, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Japan, as well as top-givers whose ambassadors were present: Claudia Fritsche of Liechtenstein, one of the largest nation donors relative to its tiny size; Portugal’s Joao de Vallera; Gilles Noghès of Monaco; Wegger Stroman of Norway; and the most generous nation of all, Luxembourg, with $22 donated per person.
Nearly $5 billion has been raised for PAG under Turner’s leadership, aided by Tim Wirth as president, with major support from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Rotary International. Most importantly, the Gates foundation – thanks to Turner’s turning Bill Gates’ attention to health care a decade ago – has now committed needed funds to the cause, said the evening’s organizer, U.N. Foundation advisor Stephen P. Strickland.
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