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Vital Voices Reception
Bowery Hotel
January 19, 2010

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photographed by Mary Blanco

Opposite Photo: Lynda Bird Robb

Investing in Women to Improve the World

In 1995, then First Lady Hillary Clinton and soon-to-be Secretary of State Madeline Albright (nominated and confirmed in 1996) traveled to Beijing for the Fourth Annual World Conference on Women. There Clinton gave her famous speech stating, "What we are learning around the world is that, if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on our planet has a stake in the discussion that takes place here."

After the conference Clinton and Albright established the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative. That initiative was the birth place of the now non-governmental-organization (or NGO), Vital Voices Global Partnership, which according to their website: "Our mission is to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities."

Lynda Bird Robb and Evening Chair Alexia Tobin

On January 19, 2010, in the aftermath of the horrific Haiti earthquake, Vital Voices hosted a fund raising reception at the Bowery Hotel. The room was filled with activist women, all who were doing their part to make a difference in the world. President Lyndon B. Johnson's daughter, Lynda Byrd Robb, had flown to town to attend both this event and the opening night party for the American Antiques Show.

Alyse Nelson, President & Co-Founder of Vital Voices

Alyse Nelson, the President & Co-Founder of Vital Voices, spoke to the group about Vital Voices mission - changing the world by empowering the women of the world. She spoke spoke about how radical Clinton's speech had seemed in 1995 and how now the idea that "if you help a woman, she will help her family and her village" is mainstream. She also spoke about how concerned she was for the women activists in Haiti, many of whom have not been heard from since the earthquake.

Nicole Sexton

Francine LeFrak, Founder of Same Sky
With Postcard and Jewelry

Francine LeFrak, Founder of Same Sky

Many of the women in the room were there to both support Vital Voices and promote projects like Nicole Sexton who attended the party carrying a burlap bag she purchased from One of the guests, Franine LeFrak (the founder of Same Sky), wore two bracelets that were made by HIV positive women in Rwanda.

Anh Doung was the honorary chair of the event. Alexis Tobin and Samantha Tobin chaired a committee of: Natalia Allen; Asia Baker; Ariane De Bonvoisin; Amanda Brooks; Whitney Dickerson; Mark Langrish; Adelia Mueller; Bettine Prentice: Catherine Petree; Lauren Remington-Platt; Courtney Treut; Michael Vollbracht; and Sissy Yates.

Here is more information about Vital Voices from their press release (Jonathan Marder & Associates: "At Vital Voices Global Partnership our mission is to identify, invest in, and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives in their communities. We provide emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs with the capacity, connections, and credibility they need to create positive change around the world. Our international staff and team of over 1,000 partners, pro bono experts and leaders, including senior government, corporate and NGO executives, have trained and mentored more than 5,000 emerging women leaders from 127 ountries in Asia, Africa, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East since 1997. These women have returned home to train and mentor more than 100,000 additional women and girls in their communities. They are the Vital Voices of our time."


Alexis Tobin, Anh Duong and Janet Olmsted Cross (right)

John Hess Cathy Hardwick Jonathan Marder and Margaret Ahrens

Alexis Tobin and Asher Simcoe

Lauren Remington Platt and Ceylan Ecer

Adam Mahr and Mark Longrish

Mary Kopper, Grace Tabib and Friend






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