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Kitty Kelley Hosts Party for Jeffrey Toobin's 'American Heiress'

September 27, 2016

"Hi Patricia." "Oh God," she replies. Click. The one conversation Jeffrey Toobin had with his famous subject.

Jeffrey Toobin with his wife, Amy McIntosh (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Jeffrey Toobin with his wife, Amy McIntosh

Tuesday evening, Kitty Kelley held a lavish party in her elegant Georgetown home to celebrate the recent publication of American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by her long-time friend. 

Whether you watched the drama unfold in real-time (as I did) or the now iconic image of a machine gun-toting female bank robber is what you picture when you think "Stockholm syndrome," you'll find Toobin's examination of a young Patty Hearst set against the backdrop of a violent 1970s America, riveting.

Jack Cahill, Sameen Ahmadnia, Craig Wilson,  Bob Wilson (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Jack Cahill, Sameen Ahmadnia, Craig Wilson, Bob Wilson

Yes, riveting. In American Heiress, the granddaughter of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst is dragged from her home in her slippers, stuffed in a trunk, to, within weeks growing (at least seemingly) sympathetic to her captors, a very small ragtag group who call themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. Patty now known as Tania, distances herself from a family desperate to meet kidnappers' demands, robs banks, drives a getaway car, is involved in a murder, crisscrosses the country, all while hiding from the authorities and a confused nation watches.

Senator Richard Blumenthal and Jeffrey Toobin (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Senator Richard Blumenthal and Jeffrey Toobin

It's a priceless, close-up look at Hearst's life on the run, equal parts Bonnie and Clyde and The Three Stooges. Thanks to Toobin's access to FBI records, personal letters, communiques, and witness testimony, it makes for a thrilling, surreal road trip. In the end, you may still not fully understand (as I didn't) the character of Patty Hearst, but it's as close as we're likely to ever get.

Kitty Kelley explained to her guests, "In 1974, I was besotted with this story. I couldn't find Afghanistan on the map but I could tell you all about Bill and Emily Harris."

The question most on her mind was why President Clinton gave her a full pardon. "Not for the reason you think" Toobin replied as guests laughed. Adding, "I didn't realize how crazy it was in the 1970s with over a thousand terrorist bombings a year. Patty Hearst was an aberration but not that aberrational."

Thanking his gracious host, Toobin expressed gratitude for their friendship and for Kelley's impressive body of work, especially her biography of Frank Sinatra, "not a cooperative subject. And thank you for not writing a biography on any of us."

Jeffrey Toobin signs a book for Judge Patricia Wald (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Jeffrey Toobin signs a book for Judge Patricia Wald

Paul Frazer and Dr. Tina Alster (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Paul Frazer and Dr. Tina Alster

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)
(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

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Margot Bisnow on 'Raising an Entrepreneur'

September 5, 2016

"I feel like a conduit," says first-time author Margot Machol Bisnow about the sixty plus inspiring entrepreneurs she profiles in Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers, and Change Makers published earlier this month.

Margot Machol Bisnow at her home in Washington, DC (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Margot Machol Bisnow at her home in Washington, DC

Forget your reservations about reading yet another how-to book. This is a love story about children of vision and purpose whose common bond, the support and encouragement from parents, especially their mothers, propelled them. 
Surprisingly, birth order, stay-at-home vs working mom, education, income, or ethnic background proved not to be predictors of entrepreneurial success. Instead, as Margot explains, "They all felt their unique circumstances helped them achieve their goals. And that sometimes underrated quality, grit, played as great a role as passion."
You will be moved by all the journeys. Here are some highlights:
To honor her mother, Stephanie Moore who died of cancer when she was in graduate school, Nyla Rodgers created Mama Hope, which has established thirty-four health, education, agriculture and water projects to help 150,000 people in four African countries. A single mother who taught dancing and creative writing to make ends meet, Stephanie, feeling the need to be a global citizen, had sponsored an orphan in Kenya named Benard. After her death, Nyla visited the village where Benard lived and found the town of 500 singing "Amazing Grace" for the woman who had raised $1,500 for women there to start businesses. They presented Nyla with a statue of two giraffes with their necks intertwined. "We're giving you this statue because your mom had the vision to see her feet and the vision to see far beyond. And it's obvious you are a giraffe too. "From the experience of seeing the impact of 10 women starting businesses to help their community Nyla started Mama Hope.
Kevin Plank with his mother Jayne (Photo by: Courtesy of Margot Machol Bisnow) Kevin Plank with his mother Jayne
The youngest of five boys, Kevin Plank, grew up in Kensington, Maryland and often traveled with his working mom, Jayne, the city's first mayor.  While in college, having earned a football scholarship at the Univeristy of Maryland, Kevin's father died. Jayne encouraged all her children to be independent, and they went on to be successful in their chosen careers. A passionate football player, Kevin got tired of sweating through his cotton T-shirts, and decided to find a fabric that could breathe. He launched the multi-billion dollar sportswear company, Under Armour in his basement. 
Eric Ryan came from an entrpreneurial family and loved sports, especially sailing. Unlike many of the others in the book, Eric wasn't passionate about a specific field, rather, he chose one that needed help with their unpleasant odors and risk to the environment. When he told his mom Pam that he wanted to start a cleaning product company, she said, "I've never even see you make your bed!" But she believed in him and gave him $10,000 to get started. With Adam Lowry, his sailing friend who had a degree in chemical engineering, they were well on their way when in 2002 their company went national with Target. Method had revenues of more than $100 million in 2012 before it was sold to Ecover.
Eric Ryan with his mom Pam (Photo by: Courtesy of Margot Machol Bisnow) Eric Ryan with his mom Pam
"Entrepreneurs are fearless" says Dhani Jones' mother Nancy. Before her son became an NFL linebacker and host of a TV show and cofounder of a creative agency, he was a teenager who hadn't been offered a scholarship to his preferred school, the University of Michigan. Nancy, who accompanied her son to Ann Arbor where the coach hadn't bothered to look at Dhani's football tape, said, "... just so you know, when he's playing in the Rose Bowl for Washington, he'll sack your quarterback, and you're going to be really sorry." After they watched his tape, Dhani was soon offered a full scholarship. And when Michigan played in the 1998 Rose Bowl, Dhani sacked Washington State's quarterback--twice.
Dhani Jones (Photo by: Courtesy of Margot Machol Bisnow) Dhani Jones
And where did this reluctant DC author, a writer, wife, mom, and former government official, get inspiration for writing this book? From her two sons. In their foreword, Elliott and Austin write, "We're an extremely close family, so even when we moved away, Mom met our new friends, many of whom, like us, wanted to build things out of nothing. She started asking them how they came to be like that.  To her amazement-- they all said basically the same thing: My mom believed in me."
Elliott founded Summit Series, an international conference series for millenial entrepreneurs and cofounded Bisnow Media with his dad, Mark Bisnow. Austin is the lead singer of Magic Giant, the Los Angeles-based folk revival band. Austin and Elliott teamed with Grammy-winning producer Benny Blanco (profiled in this book) to cofound the Get Well Soon Tour, a nonprofit that raises spirits of hospitalized children across America.

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Georgetown University Plans to Address History of Slavery & Engage Descendants

September 1, 2016

Following the establishment of a working group in September 2015, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia announced today its report and next steps in the university’s ongoing process to acknowledge and respond to its historical ties to the institution of slavery.


Part of this history includes the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved people who worked on Jesuit plantations in southern Maryland. Proceeds of the sale went to the Maryland Province of Jesuits and were used to pay off debts at Georgetown.


“I am grateful to the many members of our community who have thoughtfully and respectfully contributed their perspectives and shared their insights,” DeGioia writes in a letter prefacing the report. “I look forward to continuing to work together in an intentional effort to engage these recommendations and move forward toward justice and truth.”


Specific next steps include:


Georgetown will offer an advantage in admissions to descendants of slaves with links to the school. Statement said said applicants would get the "same consideration we give members of the Georgetown community," usually a term for descendants of alumni.


The university will create a memorial for slaves whose work benefited the school, including the 1838 sale of 272 slaves who worked on Jesuit plantations in Maryland. The slaves were sold to plantations in Louisiana for $115,000, worth about $3.3 million today. Proceeds were used to pay off Georgetown debts.


Descendants of those slaves will be included in an advisory group for the memorial's creation.


The school will rename its Freedom Hall for Isaac, one of the sold slaves, and Remembrance Hall for Anne Marie Becraft, a black woman who created a school for African-American girls in the 1820s.


Read more here.

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