A springtime diplomatic reception to introduce the newest Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution -- Dr. David J. Skorton -- to 70 VIP guests was hosted by Monaco Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle at her Kalorama residence Tuesday night.
Dr. Skorton had been president of Cornell University and the University of Iowa. He is a cardiologist and expert in adult congenital disease and cardiac imaging. He was appointed to the Smithsonian post last year.
Among the guests were the U.S. Department of State’s Chief of Protocol Ambassador Peter Selfridge and his wife, Parita Shah. Senior Smithsonian Institution officials included John McCarter (Chair, Board of Regents), Kirk Johnson (Director of the National Museum of Natural History), Julian Raby (Director of the Freer/Sackler Galleries of Art), and Molly Fannon (Director of International Relations).
Senior diplomats attended from countries - many of which have a partnership with the Smithsonian - as diverse as France, Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Korea, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Mozambique, The Netherlands, Slovenia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Special guests included Arvind Manocha(CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts), Alicia Adams (VP, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Joan Wages (President and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum), and Maestro Philippe Auguin, music director of the Washington National Opera and the Kennedy Center Orchestra who is also music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice.
In her remarks, Monaco’s ambassador said: " … During my two years in Washington, I have found that the history, culture, art and science of the Smithsonian Institution provide compelling windows into the essence of America. In 2009 His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco visited the Natural History Museum and signed an agreement for his Foundation to work with the Smithsonian on areas of conservation and sustainability.”
“Dr. Skorton brings impeccable credentials to this esteemed institution, having presided over Cornell University and the University of Iowa. His tenures as a university president demonstrated his commitment to higher education and also to making connections around the world, as his projects in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India, Israel, and elsewhere can attest.
“The Smithsonian has always been a remarkable international organization, which I know will flourish under his leadership.”
In chatting with guests, Skorton noted the recent honor for his former colleague, Marilynne Robinson who has taught for years at the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
This week, she was named the 2016 winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She is the author of four award-winning novels, including “Gilead,” which won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award.
In his conversation with another Hawkeye (this reporter who graduated from Iowa’s School of Journalism), Dr. Skorton proudly said he and his wife Dr. Robin L. Davisson, are friends of Robinson, who is slated to be in town for the Library of Congress National Book Festival at the Washington Convention Center on Sept. 24.
The Washington Establishment was in full flower Thursday night as journalists, wanna-be pundits, members of Congress, lobbyists, Trump and Cruz critics, and young people who aspire to climb a ladder of some sort gathered at the 72th annual Congressional dinner of the Washington Press Foundation.
On the dais were House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Barbara Boxer, House Speaker Paul Ryan (minus his Abe Lincoln beard), ex Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, Representative Kevin McCarthy and emcee Bill Plante of CBS News’.
Cocktails pre-and-post dinner that drew hundreds upon hundreds to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel brought a din of networking voices. Skills in lip reading were a must. Photographers scanned the jackets for lapel pins that proved the wearer was a current senator or congressperson.
The night honored AP reporter Linda Deutsch with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She famously covered high profile legal trials, such those involving O.J. Simpson, Patty Hearst, Charles Manson, Michael Jackson and Sirhan Sirhan.
Jonathan Tamari of the Philadelphia Inquirer was the recipient of the David Lynch Regional Reporting Award for excellence in congressional reporting.
Digs at presidential candidates were de rigueur and so it was:
Pelosi about Ted Cruz: “How can you not like a Canadian?”
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t laugh at my jokes.”
Boxer: Trump has been married so many times that “he calls his current wife an incumbent:”
Graham brought the house down by donning a Make America Great Again white baseball cap. His monologue included: “My party has gone batsh** crazy.” And, “if you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, nobody would convict you.” He also noted that he himself ran for president, got out, and then endorsed Jeb Bush until JEB got out. “I am the Dr. Kevorkian of the Republican primary.”
Here's a bit of history on the Foundation:
The Women's National Press Club was at the forefront in the battle for equal rights, with an emphasis on women in journalism. After a fierece struggle for equality throughout the 1950s and '60s, it took the lead and admitted men in 1970, becoming the Washington Press Club. Within months, the National Press Club opened its doors to women. In 1985, the two clubs merged and the Washington Press Club Foundation was established to continue to pursue the goals of the original Women's National Press Club. The Foundation now supports local newsrooms by funding internships, and also works to preserve the history of pioneering women in journalism.
To honor legendary Budapest Festival Orchestra Maestro Ivan Fischer, a contingent of well-respected Washingtonians and their diplomatic guests held a musicale reception on St. Valentine’s Day at the St. Regis hotel.
The invitational event was hosted by Aniko Gaal Schott, Jane Cafritz, Karon Cullen and Manuel Martinez of the St. Regis.
Seen at the invitational reception attended by 140 were the Japanese ambassador Kenichiro Sasae and his wife; Monaco’s Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle; former Homeland Security Chief The Hon. Michael Chertoff and his wife Meryl; Brandon and Lila Sullivan; the James Rosebushes; Nina and Phil Pillsbury; State Department Assistant Chief of Protocol Rosemarie Pauli; Rolph and France Graage; Jeannie Rausch; Count and Countess Renaud de Viel Castel; Count Sandor Karolyi; Albert and Madzy Beveridge;
The Hon. Lloyd Hand and his wife, jewelry designer Ann Hand; Calvin Cafritz; opera buff Lucky Roosevelt, diplomatic writer Roland Flamini and his wife, social secretary and protocol officer at the Spanish embassy Diane Flamini, writer Sandra McElwaine; Charles Krause; Washington Life magazine associate publisher John H. Arundel and his wife Christine; writer Kevin Chaffee; and event designer Debrajean Overholt;
Outside the weather was, as the song goes, frightful. Inside a musical quintet warmed the soul with classical music as well as with rumbas and tangoes. Among those thanked for the evening were St. Regis Washington DC and the Estee Lauder Companies.
In introductory remarks, Schott recounted the long list of musical instruments that Maestro Fischer has mastered. Then, she laughed that he is now looking around for a set of Scottish bagpipes.
Fischer is a former principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra.
After his performance at the Kennedy Center on Monday, Feb. 15, Fischer and the orchestra travel to New York to perform at a concert at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, Feb. 18.
According to David Allen of The New York Times, the Budapest Festival Orchestra “might be the best in the world.”
“It’s hard to think of an orchestra that can stir greater thrills than the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer,” wrote the New York Classical Review.
Media contact: Christine K. Schott at CKS@CKSchott.comor 917.847.0015.