*Nothing is more ecstatically engaging than a glowing Central Park at night radiating from the many lights in the park as well as those surrounding New York City’s horticultural eye candy.

The park in all its grandeur makes for a perfect backdrop when attending an event at the plush Time Warner Building like the festively dressed guests who attended the Lincoln Center Education (LCE) gala Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall on Broadway at 60th Street honoring Alma J. Powell, chair, America’s Promise Alliance, an educational organization in which her husband, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the 65th Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, serves as founding chair and attended the stellar event.

Lincoln Center Education Gala=

Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, Lincoln Center Chair Katherine Farley, Lincoln Center Education Chair Ann Unterberg, honoree Alma J. Powell, and Lincoln Center Education Director Russell Granet. (Photo by Patrick McMullan)

In their lusty welcoming remarks Ann Unterberg and Russell Granet, LCE’s chair and executive director, respectively, thanked guests for their continued support of this educational organization which is a global leader in arts, education and advocacy and the education cornerstone of Lincoln Center, the world’s largest performing arts complex.  The event raised $750,000.

While enjoying the enchanting décor by michele ammon style, some 200 guests dined on a three course meal meticulously catered by Great Performances: asparagus & snap pea salad; red wine braised short ribs; 48 hour apple confit; and a host of herbal teas, French roast coffee and wonderful wines provided by William Hill.

Themed “Helping young minds perform in a dynamic world,” the lustrous evening culminated with a pulsating performance by the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts Chamber Singers under the direction by Heidi Best and featuring Tony Award nominated actress Kerry Butler.

LCE presented the coveted award to Mrs. Powell in recognition of her distinguished career in public service and her extraordinary leadership of America’s Promise Alliance, which is committed to seeing that children develop into thriving adults by experiencing the Five Promises – the fundamental resources they need to succeed.  With more than 400 national partners, America’s Promise is currently leading the GradNation campaign, which is mobilizing America to improve high school graduation rates to 90 percent by 2020.

LCE was founded in 1975 as a division of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and pays tribute annually to a key person in education.  During the selection process, the Lincoln Center board of directors collectively discusses potential honorees and decides who they would like to highlight as having impacted the world of education for that year.

This year’s LCE annual gala was sponsored by Movado and chaired by former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. and his wife, Emily.  Gala co-chairs included Daisey M. Holmes, Betty Levin, Susan Rudin and Ann Unterberg.  Benefactors included BNY Mellon, Hearst Corporation, Susan & Jack Rudin and Ann & Thomas Unterberg.  The 2014 benefit committee was composed of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (superintendent); PTA members Ronald Chaluisan, New Visions for Public Schools, Marilyn Friedman & Thomas Block, Arlyn & Edward L. Gardner and Susan & Alan Patricof.  The tribute committee included Diane M. Coffey, Susan & Lewis Rapaport, Maureen & John Sweeney and Adam & Alexa Wolman.

About Lincoln Center Education

Lincoln Center Education’s mission is to enrich the lives of students, educators, and lifelong learners by providing opportunities for engagement with the arts onstage, in the classroom, digitally, and in the community. Our programs and initiatives reach hundreds of thousands of students, educators, teens, and seniors locally and around the world each year.

We Are Family Foundation pays tribute to Nelson Mandela 

Founder of the We Are Family Foundation musician (R) Nile Rodgers presents Musician (L) Steven Van Zandt the We Are Family Foundation Humanitarian Award during We Are Family Foundation 2014 Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 6, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Shahar Azran/FilmMagic)

Founder of the We Are Family Foundation musician (R) Nile Rodgers presents Musician (L) Steven Van Zandt the We Are Family Foundation Humanitarian Award during We Are Family Foundation 2014 Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Shahar Azran/FilmMagic)

There was a whole lot of stylishness on display Thursday, March 6, 2014 at Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom for the not-for-profit We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) annual celebration gala featuring a musical tribute to the beloved Nelson Mandela.

The classy evening presented by Swiss luxury brand Girard-Perregaux kicked-off with a convivial cocktail reception followed by a delicious dinner, an amazing live auction and a celestial concert starring celebrated musician, producer, songwriter, international DJ, activist, director, actor and the founding member of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Steven Van Zandt, and WAFF’s founder and acclaimed musician/songwriter/producer Nile Rodgers & CHIC.  The fabulous fête which was based on Mandela’s quote and philosophy, “It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world,” was hosted by actor/comedian Russell Peters.   

During the stellar program WAFF presented its 2014 awards to four exemplary individuals.  Van Zandt was honored with WAFF’s “humanitarian award.”  Van Zandt created Artists United Against Apartheid and released the anthemic single “Sun City” in 1985 – an effort which is largely considered as one of the last blows to Apartheid leading to the eventual release of the revered anti-apartheid icon and father of modern South Africa, Mandela, who died on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

Nicole & Matthew Mellon, founder of HanleyMellon.com and partner at Coin Validation respectively, were presented with WAFF’s distinguished “visionary award” for their continued support of their families’ philanthropic legacies dedicated to exceptional education and preservation of the arts – The National Gallery of Art, Carnegie-Mellon University, Drexel University, The King’s College of New York City and the Boys and Girls Clubs of New York.

We Are Family Foundation Honoree Emmanuel Jal flashes peace sign.  (Photo by Shahar Azran/FilmMagic

We Are Family Foundation Honoree Emmanuel Jal flashes peace sign. (Photo by Shahar Azran/FilmMagic

WAFF’s exceptional Mattie J.T. Stepanekpeacemaker award” — named for the peace advocate and best-selling poet who died in 2004 at age 13 — was presented to musician, peace activist and founder of Gua Africa, Emmanuel Jal.  In the war torn region of Southern Sudan, Jal was born into the life of a child soldier.  As a survivor of the war, Jal emerged as an activist, dedicated to helping people overcome the effects of war and poverty, and a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his music with its message of peace and reconciliation.

“The We Are Family Foundation was born as a result of 9/11, after which I asked the question, ‘Can we organize for peace half as effectively as others do for hate?’” stated Rodgers.  “My song, ‘We Are Family,’ was the inspiration to bring people together, celebrate our differences and share ideas across borders in order to solve some of the bigger problems facing our world.  We are inspired by each of our honorees this year because of their dedication and passion to making the world a better place – it is their lifelong missions.”

The funds raised at this year’s event will support WAFF’s mission and existing programs including WAFF’s signature program — Three Dot Dash — which identifies, supports and mentors Global Teen Leaders actively working on programs that address basic human needs and promoting a more peaceful world; and TEDxTeen, a global educational platform for extraordinary teens to share their stories and inspire millions.

The “chic” evening culminated in the Girard-Perregaux unveiling of its specially designed limited edition Chrono Hawk one of which was revealed during the celebratory live auction.  “We are thrilled to be supporting We Are Family Foundation with this timepiece that features the ‘heart’ of the foundation’s logo, an homage to WAFF’s work that inspires and transforms the hearts of young visionaries around the world” lamented Michele Sofisti, CEO of SOWIND and Girard-Perregaux.

Swells seen having a swellegant time included: Nile Rodgers, Steven Van Zandt, Matthew & Nicole Mellon, Emmanuel Jal, Susan Rockefeller, Kate Pierson, Monique Coleman, Ann Coulter, Nicole Henry, Nancy Hunt, Maurice DuBois, Eddie Brigati, Cornelia Guest, Roland Rojas, Khrystyne Haje, Kate Ford, Tom Silverman, Folami, Roseanna Scotto, Margarita Levieva, Joanna Bennett and surprise guest Michael Strahan.  If you missed the event, you don’t have to miss out on supporting this wonderful cause.  To make a contribution to WAFF, please visit wearefamilyfoundation.org.  Contributions are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

About We Are Family Foundation

The We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) is a New York City based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the vision of a global family through programs that inspire and educate the next generation about respect, understanding and cultural diversity — while amplifying youth efforts to solve some of our biggest global problems.

About Girard-Perregaux

Girard-Perregaux is a Swiss high-end watch manufacturer tracing its origins back to 1791. The history of the brand is marked by legendary watches that combine sharp design with innovative technology such as the renowned Tourbillon with three gold bridges presented by Constant Girard-Perregaux in 1889 at the Paris Universal exhibition where he was awarded a gold medal. Devoted to the creation of state-of-the-art Haute Horlogerie, Girard-Perregaux is one of the very few watchmakers to unite all the skills of design and manufacture under the same roof including the forging of the “heart” of the watch, the movement. With over 80 registered patents, Girard-Perregaux is fully committed to research and development to constantly fuse its unique heritage into modern watchmaking.  Girard-Perregaux is part of the Kering Group, a world leader in apparel and accessories which develops an ensemble of powerful Luxury and Sport & Lifestyle brands.

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment — book reviews, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles, music, theater and travel– for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: [email protected]

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard