It was chic, short and sleeveless at the “Women of Influence: The Event” reception at New York’s JW Marriott Essex House on May 7.
Following welcoming remarks by Jennifer Gross, chair, Women’s Executive Circle UJA-Federation of New York, emcee Bianna Golodryga, co-anchor, Good Morning America ABC News Correspondent, told the 250 guests: “As Jewish women, we lead by example…and it’s personal.” Thirty-three years ago her parents fled with her from the Soviet Union to Galveston, Texas. “They never let me forget who I was and where I came from.”
As event moderator, TV host Donny Deutsch, chairman Deutsch, Inc. . deftly challenged Elana Drell-Szyfer, CEO/General Manager of Ahava North America, Bonnie Fuller, founding president and editor-in-chief of HollywoodLife.com, Leandra Medine, “Man Repeller” fashion blogger and soon-to-be-published author and British-born fashion designer Charlotte Ronson, daughter of British personality and jewelry designer Ann Dexter Jones.
Tweaking the conversation with finesse and seychl (Yiddish for smarts), Deutsch’s queries and tidbits of male insight added edge to the dialogue. “Why [are] no women under 35 in the corporate top rung?” he asked. Ronson replied: “I feel I am lucky. I don’t work in corporate America. I lived and created in my own bubble.” Fuller answered, “American corporations need to do more to support women… The female brain is just as intelligent as the male.” Drell-Szyfer’s observation was that “just because a woman works hard and stays late in her cubicle does not mean she will get noticed. You still have to ask for it. It’s a hard thing to learn.”
As for choosing a mate, Deutsch — who admitted “Ninety-five percent of the people who work for me are women” — posited: ”What kind of guy would you want? You have to factor in the choice of spouse — willing to sacrifice more…[women] need to be with men who are more flexible.” Responding to Deutsch’s assertion, “I’m a big believer in risk, ” Drell-Szyfer said. “When I left my ‘dream job,’ the reaction was ‘[what!] to sell mud!!’” She laughed, “But it was my mud.”
Ronson said, “Any mistake couldn’t break me. —the greater the risk, the greater the reward.” A propos Deutsch’s query of which three people each admired most, Drell-Szyfer said, “Woody Allen,” Pablo Picasso, and Peggy Guggenheim.” Fuller said “Golda Meir, “Hillary Clinton” and my husband.” Ronson’s picks were: “Coco Chanel, “Fran Leibowitz”— because she is my neighbor — and my mom.” Medine said: “My father told me that being smart isn’t how much you know, but surrounding yourself with smart people.”
“If you had to address a 13-year old girl, what would you tell her? “asked Deutsch. “You have to believe in yourself,” said Drell-Szyfer. Fuller concurred, “Absolutely. Pursue your dreams.” Medine’s advice was “Listen to your mom,” and Ronson’s non-negotiable bottom line was “Find something you love to do.”
Event chairs were: Maggie Gallant, Patricia Miller and Lyss Stern and among the fashionable guests Shoshanna Gruss.