Around Town: Spring Soirees

by Editorial

An exclusive private dinner, a major literacy awards ceremony, and a benefit to fight human trafficking.
By Donna Shor

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Nil Liljegren knows how to give a great dinner party – where admittedly no one has a  better time than she does herself.

And it was fun indeed at Nil and Henrik Liljegren’s Foxhall Crescent home when they hosted Dan Entstedt, president and CEO of Saab North America. Henrik,  a popular former Swedish ambassador here, is now Enstedt’s senior political and diplomatic advisor. (I was surprised when the guest of honor told me that Saab, after divestitures, mergers and acquisitions, is presently focused on aircraft production instead of the familiar sturdy Swedish cars, which are now manufactured by General Motors.)

Among the guests were Daniel Fried, former U.S. ambassador to Poland, dubbed by the press “the Guantanamo Czar” after he was appointed the State Department’s special envoy to handle the thorny problems connected to that famed military base.

Also enjoying the seafood medley and duck breast were Lloyd Hand and his wife, the talented jewelry designer Ann Hand. Two of Washington’s most elegant and willowy women, Aniko Gaal and Ishin Ludlow, were there with husbands Nash Schott and George Ludlow.

Henrik’s interesting memoir, “From Taliinn to Turkey as Swede and Diplomat,” recounts his roles at the center of the action during his many hot-spot postings.


Soon after its exceptional annual gala, the Folger Shakespeare Library presented another smashing evening, the PEN/Faulkner Awards celebration, a booklover’s delight.

Guests at the author-laden event included Robert Stone, Deborah Tannen, Allen Cheuse, Bevery Lowery, Pulitzer-prizewinner Clarence Page, Mary Haft and Andrea and Stephen Weisswasser.

With television newscaster-author Gwen Ifill emceeing, native American writer Sherman Alexie was awarded the PEN/Faulkner prize of $15,000 for his 23-story collection, “War Dances.”

Prizes of $5,000 each were awarded to Barbara Kingsolver (“The Lacun”), Lorraine R. Long (“The Homicide Survivor’s Picnic”), Lorrie Moore (“A Gate at the Stairs) and Colson Whitehead (“Sag Harbor”).

Literary judges Al Young, Rilla Askew and Kyoko Mori cited and described the award-winning books, ranging from a tale of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to a coming-of-age account. Each work sounded fascinating and many in the audience will undoubtedly rush out and buy all the authors’ books, right now. That’s what a literary evening should be about.

The Austrian embassy was the hottest place in town the night of the FAIR Fund’s Fourth Anniversary Gala. Instead of Viennese waltzes, there were hot licks from the Evan Bliss band, a free-flowing bar and scurrying waiters passing hot-from-the-oven hors d’ouevres.

And there was poignancy, too. The Fund fights youth trafficking, and a young girl, Asia, brought the crowd to tears when she described her victimization.

Andrea Powell, FAIR Fund’s co-founder and executive director, said the group’s hands-on programs had aided over 15,000 young girls and boys during the last six years in 11 countries, including the U.S.

Seen: the Indian ambassador Meera Shankar; former Rep. Connie Morella there as a member of the honorary host committee, as was Esther Coopersmith, fresh from the White House the night before.  Host committee men included KNEW Galleries’ Fernando Batista and International Club DC’s Sanjaya Hettihewa.

Busily selling raffle tickets was dynamic Tanya Sabel of the Capitol City Ball. Founded to “help charities and have fun,” the event was founded by John Dunford and Bruce Fries. “We were so impressed with FAIR Funds results that we chose them as one of the charities we are helping sponsor this year,” Dunford said.

Beruffled models in sponsor Betsey Johnson’s creations floated through the crowd, shepherded by perky Jenny Zinn, manager of Betsey’s M street store.

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