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Tuesday, October 15, 2019
The Plaza Hotel, New York City

Photo Credit:
PMC/Gonzalo Marroquin

Opposite Photo:
Kareem Gahed & Adwoa Aboah




Ambassador Mary Ourisman Dawkins and Brigadier General Peter Dawkins · John Hardy Jewelry · Edgar Legaspi · Juan Montoya

Juan Montoya, Jackie Weld Drake, Ambassador Mary Dawkins, General Peter Dawkins,
Edgar Legaspi and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia

Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education’s annual gala, Fiesta, was held at The Plaza Hotel on October 15, 2019. The evening honored Ambassador Mary Dawkins and Brigadier General Peter Dawkins, John Hardy Jewelry, Edgar Legaspi, and Juan Montoya with the Casita Maria Gold Medals of Honor. The evening’s host was Sissi Fleitas. The award is bestowed to individuals in recognition of their contribution to the worlds of arts, education and philanthropy. The festive evening began with cocktails, followed by a dinner dance to the tune of Bob Hardwick’s Latin inspired tunes.

“Casita Maria has been a second home and safe haven for kids and their families for more than 80 years,” introduced host Sissi Fleitas. “It's really a blessing and an honor to serve as executive director of the first and oldest Latino charity in all of New York City,” said Haydee Morales. “Welcome! I am here to be brief and grateful,” said Jackie Weld Drake.

“The Casita Maria enterprise is a remarkable one that for decades has done such wonderful things for this community,” said Pete Dawkins upon receiving his Gold Medal. “I would just like to add my congratulations to the other recipients of this wonderful award,” added Mary Dawkins. “To see such kindness and thoughtfulness at Casita really touched my heart,” said Juan Montoya. “Community and support are the most important things we can nurture. You all are an inspiration.”

Edgar Legaspi, on stage with his family, said, “We believe we have a mission to help people through education. I would like to encourage people to help Casita. It’s not about money, it’s about effort and time.” John Hardy Jewelry’s CEO Kareem Gahed, said, “Thank you from all of the generations of artisans, wax carvers, chain weavers, inspired employees, and passionate leaders at John Hardy.”

Model Adwoa Aboah attended with Gahed. She is the latest face of John Hardy, joining Pénelope Cruz and Julianne Moore. Aboah was adorned with John Hardy’s jewelry.

The Dinner Chairmen were Jacqueline Weld Drake, HRH Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Urban Karlsson, Mary Snow, and Joan Steinberg. Honorary Chairmen were Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Elizabeth Peabody, and Carlos Souza. Past honorees have included Santiago Calatrava, Roberto Cavalli, Agnes Gund, Audrey Hepburn, Carolina Herrera, Daisy Soros, and Lynn Wyatt. Pachanga Chairs co-chairs were Victor Roquette and Sabrina Wirth.

Among the guests were Adwoa Aboah, Liza and Sergio Alvarez, Peter Bacanovic, Tony Bechara and Carolina von Humboldt, Tina and Simon Beriro, Violaine and John Bernbach, Cathie and Tom Black, Mercedes Bograd-Levin, Martha Bograd, Geoffrey Bradfield, Halim Bulos, Lady Liliana Cavendish, Marie de Foucaud and Renaud de Tilly, Their Royal Highnesses Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Susan Gutfreund, Mai Hallingby Harrison, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Alice Kandell, Eleanora Kennedy, Andrew Kepler, Ann-Hunter Van Kirk, Michèle Gerber Klein, Margo Langenberg, Alicia Lubowski, Mary McFadden, Grace and Chris Meigher, Malu and Sergio Millerman, Ann Nitze, Gautam Patel, Tom Quick, Ann Rapp, Pepita Serrano, Hunt Slonem, Benny Tabatabai, Ted Taylor, Barbara and Donald Tober, Monica and Ali Wambold, Daniela Wambold, Marina Wambold, and Maria Celis Wirth.

Fiesta is arguably the best party in New York. It attracts a glamorous international crowd for a lively evening that is light on speeches and great fun, all in the service of our serious purpose. Much of the operating budget of the organization is raised at the event.

About The Honorees

Ambassador Mary Ourisman Dawkins

Ambassador Mary Ourisman Dawkins served as U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, a total of seven countries simultaneously. She is a longtime supporter of the arts, along with community involvement, as well as a supporter of the R.N.C. and the Republican Governors’ Association. She was appointed by President George W. Bush as a Trustee of the Kennedy Center, and is a founding member and co-chair of the International Committee of the Arts. She has served on numerous arts boards including the Washington National Opera, American Ballet Theater, and the Smithsonian Institution. All this in addition to her work on behalf of The American Red Cross as past Chair of the Red Cross, and the Prince of Wales Foundation, Friends of the Uffizi, and many others. She continues her philanthropic and artistic interests in Palm Beach where she spends the winter, as a member of the Preservation Society, Four Arts, and the Palm Beach Civic Association.

Brigadier General Peter Dawkins

Pete Dawkins is a senior advisor to Virtu Financial. At West Point, he was President of the Class of 1959, Captain of Army’s undefeated football team. An all-American halfback, he won the Heisman Trophy and was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Pete remains active in a variety of national, financial, community and philanthropic roles, serving on the board of the Wharton Business School’s Center for Leadership and Change Management and the Intrepid Museum. Time magazine identified Pete as one of the “Top 50 Leaders in the U.S.”

John Hardy Jewelry

Inspired by Bali and its time-honored jewelry-making traditions, John Hardy’s artisan collective was founded in 1975 with a dedication to handcrafted jewelry. John Hardy Jewelry is committed to sustainable luxury business practices, their craftspeople and the preservation of Bali. They pride themselves on the value of authenticity; it is the soul of community that makes each piece truly one of a kind.

Edgar Legaspi

Edgar Legaspi is a Partner and Head of Coverage for Mexico, Latin America and Spain at BDT & Company. He also serves on the Investment Committee for BDT Capital Partners. Edgar has more than 25 years of investment banking and principal investments experience. Prior to joining BDT, Edgar ran Morgan Stanley’s Principal Investments Latin American group. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Edgar was a Managing Director at Credit Suisse and CEO of Credit Suisse First Boston, Mexico. Edgar also was a General Partner and Managing Director at Lazard Frères & Co. Edgar is a director of Casa Dragones.Edgar is a trustee of the Gabriela Legaspi Foundation and the Alianza Medica Foundation. Edgar received an MsC from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University Of Pennsylvania.

Joan Montoya

Juan Montoya is one of the most acclaimed and prolific interior designers in the world today. Juan Montoya was born and spent his early years in Colombia. After studying architecture in Bogotá, he moved to New York where he graduated from Parsons School of Design. Following two years of work and study in Paris and Milan, he returned to New York, where he founded the design business he has presided over since. His firm specializes in residential and contract interior design, with projects located throughout the United States and Internationally. A member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame, a recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design, A Doctorate from New York School of Interior Design, Star of Design Award, and the Legends Award from Pratt Institute. His contributions to the field of interior design are widely recognized. He is also included in AD100 since its inaugural list, AD Collector (France) top 100, AD 30 Deans of Design and a Grand Master on Elle Decor's A-list.

A truly original thinker, Juan Montoya is not wedded to a particular style or period. Initially labeled a minimalist, his work has evolved dramatically since he first came to the public's attention. The great diversity found in Juan Montoya’s work notwithstanding, it is possible to trace elements that constitute the Montoya look in all his interiors. The exquisite juxtaposition of textures, colors and volumes, together with thoughtful attention to shadows, scale and spatial quality, result in interiors that exude refinement and elegant simplicity. Through the careful placement of objects, that often reflect his interest in a variety of cultures, Montoya enhances the qualities of a room or of an entire apartment or house.

Host, Sissi Fleitas

Sissi Fleitas is a prominent model, presenter and actress best known for her work on “Sabado Gigante.” She has has appeared in the telenovela “Los Secretos de Lucia” and various films across Latin America.

About Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education

Casita Maria, the oldest Latin charity in New York City, provides high-quality, innovative arts programming to over 1,000 students daily both during and after school, producing participatory, well-rounded individuals who go on to fulfill their dreams. Located in the country’s poorest zip code, the South Bronx, Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education creates a safe and welcoming community, enriching and uplifting youth and families towards success, through shared cultural, art and educational experiences and programs.
















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