WHITE PLAINS – ArtsWestchester will honor five Wonder Women during its Annual Gala on Saturday, November 19 at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester in White Plains. All women have demonstrated exceptional leadership and support of the arts.
The honorees are: Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel; New York State Senator, Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins; Area President for Wells Fargo Maria Ferreira; Lifetime Arts Patron Emily Grant; and Award-Winning CBS 2 News Anchor Mary Calvi.
“We are thrilled to honor these amazing women for their extraordinary leadership and superhero support for the arts in Westchester County and beyond,” said Janet Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester. “In addition to recognizing remarkable individuals, the gala is a way for us to gather friends and supporters who believe in the value of the arts in society.”
ArtsWestchester’s Gala Honorary Chairs are Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino and his wife Sheila Astorino. The Gala Dinner Chairs are Geoff Thompson and Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson, Partners at Thompson & Bender.
“My wife Sheila and I are pleased to be serving as honorary chairs for ArtsWestchester’s Gala. Westchester wouldn’t be the place where we love to live and work without the arts. Music, dance, theatre, movies, museums, our county has them all. But that’s not by accident,” said Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “Like everything else of value, the arts need advocates and supporters. Westchester County is proud to be a partner of ArtsWestchester.”
Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson, added, “We are truly thrilled and honored to be serving as this year’s chairs of the 2016 ArtsWestchester Gala Dinner. The funds from this event will support arts and culture throughout our community, touching everyone at all stages of life,” she said. Geoff Thompson agreed, “Whether it is bringing artists into our school classrooms, exhibitions into our galleries, or performances into our theaters, ArtsWestchester improves the quality of life for everyone.”
ArtsWestchester’s Wonder Women Honorees are as follows:
Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts, is a national arts advocate, producer, preservationist, curator, civic activist and author of 23 books. Dedicated to preserving and enriching cultural life across the nation, her career of cultural leadership includes serving on the boards of countless major arts institutions and on city, state and federal councils and cultural commissions. In 1966, as the first Director of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel initiated the first public performance in Central Park of the Metropolitan Opera, and first exhibition of outdoor sculpture, with the work of Tony Smith in Bryant Park. She later served as the longest-term member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and served as Chair of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Foundation. She has served as a member of the New York City Art Commission and the New York City Commission of Cultural Affairs for more than a decade. She was appointed by President Reagan to the U.S. Holocaust Museum Board in 1987 and President Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in 1992, where she became the first woman elected Vice Chair in the Commission’s 100-year history. In 2008, President Obama appointed her to the American Battle Monuments Commission, where she has was recently elected Chair of the Memorials Committee. She is Founder/Chair of the NYC Landmarks 50+ Alliance; and on the Boards of the Fresh Air Fund, Friends of the High Line, and Trust for the National Mall.
New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a longtime supporter of ArtsWestchester’s mission to keep the arts accessible and thriving in Westchester. A Yonkers resident, she is a vocal advocate for the value of the arts and quality education in our communities. Since the very beginning of her tenure in government, Andrea Stewart-Cousins has espoused the values of empathy, empowerment and civic engagement. These values, along with her strong belief in advocating for the underserved and championing the needs of working families, has distinguished her as a trailblazer in local and State government. Andrea Stewart-Cousins was elected by her colleagues to serve as Leader of the Senate Democratic Conference in December 2012, becoming the first female leader of a legislative conference in New York State history. She was first elected to the State Senate in 2006 and in 2009, Senator Stewart-Cousins made New York State history as the first African-American woman to preside over the Senate. Andrea Stewart-Cousins also served for a decade as a Westchester County Legislator where she authored and passed landmark legislation including Westchester County’s first human rights laws. As the first African American to serve as Director of Community Affairs for the City of Yonkers, Stewart-Cousins contributed to the revitalization of the City of Yonkers, founding the original “Art on Main Street,” as well as co-creating “RiverFest,” which is a widely attended, multi-cultural, ecologically oriented city-wide celebration.
A Yonkers native, Maria Ferreira is the Suburban New York and Connecticut Community Banking Area President for Wells Fargo. Her duties span six counties from New York’s northern Hudson Valley to Connecticut’s Fairfield County. In her role at Wells Fargo, Maria provides executive leadership for retail and business banking operations covering 50 retail banking stores and 398 employees. She has held numerous leadership roles at Wells Fargo, including Private Banking Leader, Retail Bank Director and most recently, area president for Central New Jersey. Wells Fargo is a corporate leader when it comes to the arts, supporting the arts-in-education programs of ArtsWestchester in some of the most impoverished communities in the county. A passionate community leader, Maria has been a dedicated member of the ArtsWestchester Board of Trustees since 2014. She currently serves on the Grants Committee where her professional experience and leadership skills have made her one of its most valuable members.
A lifetime arts patron, Emily Grant has been a driving force in the cultural community since moving to Westchester in 1955. In the ensuing years, she and her husband, Eugene, have positively impacted almost every cultural organization in the county — Purchase College Foundation, ArtsWestchester, the Emelin Theatre, the Westchester Holocaust Commission, Caramoor, the Westchester Philharmonic, Manhattanville College, and the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges. Emily Grant is a no-nonsense woman who is passionate about music, art, nature, democracy and service to others. A little-known fact is that Emily served as an occupational therapist for soldiers in World War II in her native Canada, where, even then, she utilized the healing power of the arts on the wounded. She is truly a woman ahead of her time who manages to keep hearth, home, family and community a priority. Despite all the well-deserved praise and accolades she has garnered for her support of arts and culture in Westchester, Emily is still and always will be a charming and gracious lady.
Mary Calvi is an award-winning journalist, currently an anchor for CBS 2 News This Morning and CBS 2 News at Noon. She has provided live breaking news reports on a wide range of stories across the tri-state area for over two decades and has won six Emmy awards, including one for an in-depth series on sexual pedophiles, “Predator Next Door.” She gained unprecedented access to the FBI’s underwater anti-terrorism team and reported from underwater. Mary has reported directly from Rome on events surrounding Pope John Paul II, and provided coverage on the attacks at the World Trade Center in 2001 and in 1993. Her credits include the New York Festival’s World Media Awards, a National ACE Award for Excellence in Journalism, a Clarion Award for Excellence in Reporting, and the ACIM Award for Excellence in Community Service. Her career at WCBS-TV began in2002 following her role as anchor and assistant news director at News 12 Westchester. As the First Lady of Yonkers, Mary Calvi and her husband, Mayor Michael Spano have supported the positive economic impact of the arts throughout the City of Yonkers as well as the power of the arts to inspire children in the Yonkers Public Schools.
The Annual Gala for ArtsWestchester will take place on Saturday, November 19 at 6:30 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, located at 3 Renaissance Square in White Plains.
The event will feature a live and silent auction with a sit-down dinner.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the programs and services of ArtsWestchester.
For more information on this year’s gala, visit artswestchester.org/support/get-involved/special-events/gala or contact Ann Fabrizio at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 428-4220, Ext. 326.