Runaway Spoon

Women Who Might Rule vs Bad Behavior

December 5, 2017

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.
With woeful eyes, Congresswoman Jackie Speier peered up at the big Politico banner dominating the stage, “Women Rule Summit,” and shook her head: “No! Women don’t rule!” she lamented.

The California Democrat was among prominent women, including White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who tackled the burning issue of sexual harassment and abuse on the job.

“Every time it happened to me in the workplace,” said Conway, 50, “I always told a friend.” Those men who misbehaved, she said, she treated as “weak and pathetic” from that moment on, adding:  “I don’t feel sorry for myself. You have to be a bigger person.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
What to do about harassment at the workplace was tackled at the Politico summit by a phalanx of  women from Congress, media, government and the corporate world in a “teaching moment” -- or in this case, an all-day moment.  An over-arching theme could have been:  “Speaking truth to power or keeping quiet for the sake of your job.

Speier is one of several congresswomen pushing for tougher rules cracking down on harassment on Capitol Hill. “Congress, we have a problem. We have to fix it,” she said on the same day that John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the longest-serving Member, “retired” amid harassment allegations against him.

In her talk, Conway said, “Donald Trump always surrounds himself with powerful women,” and touted that some of the White House initiatives to help women include access to capital and a proposed new tax code that benefits businesses.

Courtney Liss and Stephanie Flood, co-founder/CEO of (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Courtney Liss and Stephanie Flood, co-founder/CEO of "Pajama Parties with a Purpose"
Twice, Conway was interrupted by a woman in the audience who obviously is no Trump fan.  Conway retaliated: “Anybody can act like a complete jackass if they want to.”

Continuing on the  harassment theme, Conway said what is important is having honest and full conversations about the problem.   

“I’m with you,” she told the audience of  500+ women (and a handful of men) – the majority in their 20s and 30s.  And, she said, it is important to make sure the changes “just don’t end up in a corporate handbook” that’s merely ignored or dismissed.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao
Among speakers were Heather Podesta; Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao; Michelle DiFebo Freeman, partner in Monumental Sports and Entertainment; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,

Podesta grimaced as she recalled being put down at a law firm to a client who she had brought in in the first place.  “Isn’t Heather our most beautiful partner,” the male partner gushed. Podesta is one of the most successful lobbyist/rainmakers in DC.

Also attuned to the issue was an audience member from CARE USA.

CARE's Beth Solomon with POLITICO Chief Economic Correspondent Ben White (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) CARE's Beth Solomon with POLITICO Chief Economic Correspondent Ben White
“We see the challenges women face in America, but it’s much worse for women overseas,” noted Beth Solomon, CARE’s managing director for external affairs & development.  “That’s why CARE provides education for girls in Afghanistan, gender-based violence prevention and child marriage prevention programs in 94 countries.”

:Politico's Nahel Toosi, Ben White & Tai Kopan of CNN (Photo by: natalia Janetti) :Politico's Nahel Toosi, Ben White & Tai Kopan of CNN

She noted that to this objective, CARE is sponsoring a reception on Thursday, December 12 at the Afghanistan Embassy in DC, which will introduce a new initiative, Global Leaders Network.

Politico ( is a news operation/ information service that distributes a magazine, operates a website, and sends out well-read internet daily news blast, Politico Playbook.

Women Rule, held Tuesday at the Four Seasons Hotel,  also is supported by Google, the Tony Burch Foundation and Chevron.


Courtney Liss and Stephanie Flood, co-founder/CEO of (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Courtney Liss and Stephanie Flood, co-founder/CEO of "Pajama Parties with a Purpose"

CARE's Beth Solomon with POLITICO Chief Economic Correspondent Ben White (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) CARE's Beth Solomon with POLITICO Chief Economic Correspondent Ben White

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Gabby Giffords Receives Dual Honors

November 20, 2017

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt that left her with a severe brain injury, and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, were honored at the 2017 National Dialogue Institute’s awards dinner at the National Press Club on Thursday.

But the honors didn’t stop there.

Earlier in the week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to name the Democratic cloakroom after Giffords and former Rep. Leo J. Ryan, who was killed in 1978 during the Jonestown massacre.

Sen. Ed Markey (l), Rev. Mark Farr, Mark Kelly,Gabby Giffords & Nancy Pelosi (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Sen. Ed Markey (l), Rev. Mark Farr, Mark Kelly,Gabby Giffords & Nancy Pelosi

So now, lawmakers who want to chat outside the House floor will do so in the “Gabrielle Giffords-Leo J. Ryan Cloakroom.”

Since the 2011 shooting, Giffords and her husband have created an organization that deals with gun control.  “I am a gun owner myself,” he said …but we must keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.”

At the NPC dinner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in presenting the key 2017 National Dialogue Award to Giffords and Capt. Kelly, said of each of the honorees that they “… have all done exemplary work to build bridges of understanding between people and nations.” In her emotional talk, Pelosi told of how former Vice President Joe Biden insisted on travelling to The Hill to help honor Giffords during the naming of the Democrats’ cloakroom.

Honorees included:

·  Businessman Rafat Mahmood and his wife Shaista Mahmood. The Alexandria, Va., couple received the National Dialogue Peacemaker Award “recognizing their …work building bridges and understanding between those of different religious, cultural and economic backgrounds.”  Virginia Congressman James P. Moran presented the award, saying “Ray and Shaista Mahmood have devoted themselves to ecumenical cooperation in addressing the conditions of poverty, oppression of women and sectarian conflict throughout the world.”

·  Goodwill ambassador for UNESCO Esther Coopersmith. She received the National Dialogue’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She also is a political activist and a mover in the social scene. Dr. Susan Blumenthal, the gala’s honorary chair, presented the award to Kalorama resident Coopersmith, known as one of Washington’s “grand dames” and hostesses. In her remarks, Blumenthal jokingly said she likes to refer to her as “Queen Coopersmith” since she rules in so many levels in the art of networking in the U.S. and around the world.

The Sustained Dialogue Institute, led by The Rev. Mark Farr, helps citizens throughout the globe to “transform their conflictual and destructive relationship, and to design and implement sustainable change processes,” according to its press information.

Esther Coopersmith being honored by Nancy Pelosi (left), Rev. Mark Farr, & Dr. Susan Blumenthal (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Esther Coopersmith being honored by Nancy Pelosi (left), Rev. Mark Farr, & Dr. Susan Blumenthal

The Institute’s honors memorialized Hal Saunders, SDI’s founder and an architect of President Jimmy Carter’s Camp David Peace Accord between Israel and its neighbors.

Among the 200 guests were ambassadors from Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Armenia, and the European Union, as well as Susan E. Carmel Lehrman  of the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History at American University; and Michelle Cross Fenty, former first lady of D.C. in the Mayor Fenty Administration.  Now living in DC again, Michelle is a partner in Parsan Cross, branded as a global strategic advisory firm. She has served as country representative for Trinidad and Tobago and private sector adviser for the Inter-American Development Bank.

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Georgetown's C. Boyden Gray is Honoree

October 15, 2017

Georgetown resident Ambassador C. Boyden Gray was among those honored at the 2017 Points of Light Tribute Awards Dinner at the Embassy of France in Washington DC on Thursday (Oct. 19).

He received the Lifetime of Service award.

Other honorees included former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, NFL player Coty Sensabaugh & Dominique Sensabaugh, and wildlife advocates Jack & Suzi Hanna.

Points of Light, a global non-profit inspired by former President George H. W. Bush, is the world’s leading volunteer service organization. The Tribute Awards, entitled “Changing Lives Through Service,” annually honor individuals who embody the vision of “1,000 points of light” that President Bush first invoked during his acceptance speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s lead anchor, emceed the event.

Some 300 corporate, non-profit, and community leaders gathered to honor individuals and organizations whose extraordinary contributions to volunteering and service have made their communities and the world better.

Mr. and Mrs. Neil M. Bush and His Excellency Gérard Araud, ambassador of France to the United States, hosted the event, along with the event Honorary Chairman C. Boyden Gray, and dinner co-chairs  Wally and Sandy Ganzi, and Larry Bathgate and Michelle Bengué.

 “Points of Light continues to lift up one of the legacies that is most important to my dad, and one that continues to have enormous ripples and impact in communities around the world,” said Neil Bush, chairman of Points of Light’s board of directors and a son of former President George H. W. Bush. “These extraordinary individuals bring leadership, innovation, and energy to bear on some of the toughest challenges we face as a nation. It is our privilege to recognize them.”

Honorees are

·       Schwarzenegger, former California governor and founding chair of R20: Regions of Climate Action and founder of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy;

·       Coty and Dominique Sensabaugh, founders of the Sensabaugh Mission Moon  (he is a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers);

·       Jack and Suzi Hanna, co-hosts of Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild, and ambassadors for the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds.

·       A Points of Light Lifetime Service Award was presented to Gray for his public service, volunteer leadership on the boards of numerous charitable, educational and professional organizations, and his longtime support of the Points of Light vision and mission as established by President Bush.

The honorees are representative of the more than 62 million Americans who volunteer their time, talent and resources every year in service to others. The value and impact of volunteering is particularly relevant on the heels of numerous recent natural disasters, including three major hurricanes and an earthquake. 

The Points of Light disaster services team supports first responder organization such as FEMA and the American Red Cross, connects with voluntary organizations active in disaster chapters across the United States to assess the situation, and coordinates with affiliates and partner organizations in the affected areas to support long-term volunteer engagement in recovery efforts.

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