Runaway Spoon

Georgetown Soccer Balls at Play in Kenya

February 19, 2015

Kids at an orphange called Flying Kites in Kenya are playing with soccer balls that came straight from Georgetown University.

With the holidays in swing and the season ending just weeks prior, the Georgetown University men’s and women’s soccer coaches were spending late December closing up shop on the 2014 season and looking ahead to 2015.  However, both staffs took a break in the action to give back to a group of young people that they had never met.

The coaches were approached by a Georgetown staff member to donate a soccer ball or two to the orphanage in Kenya. 

Flying Kites is a home, primary school and scholarship program for orphaned children in Kenya. In the foothills of Kenya's mountains, it serves as a refuge for orphaned children who have nowhere to turn. Children who have suffered the effects of abuse and homelessness are given the tools they need to thrive. In the wider community, the organization provides scholarships to critically poor families, so that fewer children end up with nowhere to turn.

Playing with soccer balls in Kenya (Photo by: Richard L. Barnes) Playing with soccer balls in Kenya

A group of volunteers was leaving the D.C. region and wanted to bring over some sporting goods for the children in the soccer-crazed country.  At the time, the children were playing soccer with a ball made of rags.

Upon hearing this, the coaches looked through their inventory and responded with overwhelming support.  The men’s team had practice balls and gladly handed them over, while the women’s team had balls which were perfect for recreational use.

In total, it was 18 soccer balls for the orphanage that previously had none.  The marketing department included Georgetown T-shirts to outfit some of the teens at Flying Kites, spreading the Georgetown message throughout the world.  On Christmas morning, the children at Flying Kites awoke to stocking stuffed, gifts and fun.   

For more information on Flying Kites and its work in Kenya, visit



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Nostrovia!: To The Wise Guard!

February 1, 2015

The Triple-A list of politicians (Henry Kissinger, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Mitt Romney, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, etc.), corporate brass and generally influential folks, lunched at the pre-Alfalfa CSIS lunch Saturday in DC.    

It was a Super Bowl of international power voices heard from the perspective of seasoned American leadership at the luxurious Rhode Island Avenue office building of the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

CSIS board chairman and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn noted that it is not unheard of for the guests at the evening Alfalfa event to enjoy a drink or two. That, he said, puts him in mind of the preacher who hoped to warn a parishioner of the evils of drink. The preacher put a tiny worm in a glass of water. The worm, unharmed, swam to the top. Then he put a worm in a glass of Scotch.  The worm fell to the bottom and died.

“Now what does this tell you?” the preacher asked.

“That I will never get worms,” said the man.

In the swing of things, there was a chorus of praise among the some 280 guests for the exquisite Mondavi vintages – Hangtime Pinot Noir and Oberon Sauvignon Blanc. Michael Mondavi, of course, flew in from California to attend the Alfalfa events.

Colleen Nunn (left) & Ann Hand (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Colleen Nunn (left) & Ann Hand

Kissinger, 91, who was verbally assailed by anti-war demonstrators at the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, showed up in fine fettle, despite that protestors had dangled handcuffs over his head in the hearing room.

Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, 94, now at Stanford University, testified at the Senate hearing alongside Kissinger. (Luncheon guests who were at the hearing joked that Shultz told off the protestors in no uncertain terms.) At CSIS, Shultz again joined his pal to discuss still more turmoil, but this time between Russia and Ukraine.  

Kissinger, Shultz, and Maurice “Hank Greenberg,” all dubbed the “Home Run Kings of Foreign Policy” for the program, tackled the question of what to do about the Russian incursions into Ukraine.

Greenberg, CSIS trustee and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc., advised that the U.S. get tighter with China as a way to put pressure on Russia. “It’s not in our national interest if China gets still closer to Russia.”

Kissinger described his many encounters with Russian President Putin this way: “He is not a Hitler but a tough Russian Czar.”

Shultz summed up the view of all panelists when he said: “We should be supplying arms and equipment to Ukraine.  We don’t need boots on the ground. There are plenty of Ukrainian boots on the ground now.”

“We have got to squeeze them (Russia) harder,” Nunn said about applying U.S. sanctions. “We are in a strong economic position and we have to play those cards very hard.”

He also called for an immediate coalition of leaders in the United States and Europe to help deal with Russia’s aggression.

CSIS is a nonprofit think tank that has advocated solutions to some of the world’s great policy challenges.  It focuses on defense and security; regional stability; and issues ranging from energy and climate to global health and economics

CSIS holds the annual lunch at its ultra-modern, tech-rich headquarters near DuPont Circle with an invitation-only spate of wise movers and shakers, many of whom are revered for their high-profile work in past presidential administrations.

Nunn recalled that at one point he was seriously thinking about running for president in the 1980’s.  What changed his mind? “Well I got this letter from a woman urging me to run because, “This nation has all the charisma it can stand!”

Luncheon guests included, among others:

Elizabeth Holmes, at age 30 worth an estimated $4.5 billion, head of Theranos, a medical service company she started at age 19 after dropping out from Stanford to use the money for her own startup. The soft-spoken D.C.-born billionaire has been profiled in The New Yorker and Fortune, and her board includes Nunn, Kissinger and Shultz.

The Hon. Lloyd Hand and his wife, jewelry designer Ann Hand; former congresswoman Jane Harman, president & CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; author Laura Liswood, secretary general of the Council of Women World Leaders; actress Lynda Carter of Wonder Woman fame.

Former Sen.Alan Simpson; Donna Shalala, University of Miami president; former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff  Peter Pace; businessman Frederic Malek; Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson; Sen. Bob Corker; Sen. Lamar Alexander; Sen. Roy Blunt; David Boren, University of Oklahoma president; Sen. Patrick Leahy; Charles Schwab, founder & chairman of Charles Schwab Corp.; Ho-Young Ahn, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea; Theresa Fariello, VP of Exxon Mobil

Astronaut and former Senator John Glenn; former Senate Majority Leader William Frist; family members from Estee Lauder Companies Ltd.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao; former U.S. Senator Charles Robb; DC lobbyist Brett Greene; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison; and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. 

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Baby, It Was Nice & Warm Inside

November 20, 2014

il Canale Interior Designer Barbara Hawthorn & Francisco Mautarelli, Italian Embassy carbinieri (Photo by: GBA) il Canale Interior Designer Barbara Hawthorn & Francisco Mautarelli, Italian Embassy carbinieri

Baby, it was cold outside.

Inside, the pizza was hot and the ambiance warm as 110 members of the Georgetown Business Association and others gathered at the newly expanded il Canale on 31st Street for the GBA’s monthly reception on Wednesday.

Janice Dodd of Esential Media Partners & singing great Joe Coleman (Photo by: GBA) Janice Dodd of Esential Media Partners & singing great Joe Coleman

Although Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser had an unavoidable conflict elsewhere in town, three of her representatives attended, including Logan Circle resident and ANC Commissioner John Fanning, her newly designated Ward 2 liaison. The others were political activist Terry Lynch and Teodora Dimitrova, whose specialty is sports planning. 

Fanning was a mayoral appointee in three administrations from 1995 to 2000 and again in 2007 – 2010, working in both the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations & Affairs and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Greg Terry (left) & Joe Farruggio (Photo by: GBA) Greg Terry (left) & Joe Farruggio

There, too, was major political player Brett O. Greene, CEO & president of American Management Corporation, a premier government relations and consulting firm for non-profit and government entities in the DC metropolitan area. He was an early supporter of Bowser’s winning candidacy. 

Il Canale owner Joe Farruggio and GBA president Riyad Said welcomed the packed house as guests dined on salmon & beef pastas, pizzas Napoletana, antipasti, and cannoli.

What occurred next was a notable isn’t-this-a-small-world moment.

ANC Commissioner Bill Starrels (left) & Joe Sternlieb, CEO of the Georgetown BID (Photo by: GBA) ANC Commissioner Bill Starrels (left) & Joe Sternlieb, CEO of the Georgetown BID

At one table sat professional entertainer Joe Coleman, who once sang with the famous musical group The Platters, and his wife, Vanessa Weaver, both friends of Farruggio.  At the next table was Italian-American blogger Oscar Bartoli, his wife Franca, and their friend Italian Melo Cicala, a builder who helped construct the il Canale expansion project.  

GBA President Riyad Said welcomes all. (Photo by: GBA) GBA President Riyad Said welcomes all.

Finally, the Italians were introduced to Coleman and Weaver by this Georgetown Dish blogger. 

Immediately, Bartoli and Coleman broke out in an impromptu, very robust Italian song.  Cicala then related that in a previous life as a booker, he brought the original Platters to Italy to perform. Now let’s see: how many degrees of separation is that?

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