Friday, November 18, 2011

AJC's Civic Achievement Award Dinner

AJC Regional Director, Brian Lipton told us at the beginning of the evening that we would finish by 9 PM, and the program ended at exactly 9 PM!  Perfect for a weeknight.

Michael's On East Ballroom was jam-packed last night to honor Sarasota Memorial (Hospital) Healthcare System's CEO, Gwen MacKenzie.  There was an outpouring of affection for SMH's bright, bold, and beautiful leader, Gwen.  One of the most interesting things I learned about Gwen, who is a friend, was that she played ice hockey growing up.  She said the greatest lesson learned from that sport was how to walk away from a fight in the name of civility.  Also, much to her mother's happiness, she never lost any teeth in that most physical of sports!  I think I would be happy about that, too!

The co-chairs of the event were Phil Delaney and Carol Ann Kalish.  Has anyone else noticed how much Carol Ann looks like Suzanne Atwell?  Twice I walked by her and almost called her Suzanne!  Maybe it is just me, but I think they could be long-lost sisters.  The honorary chair was Bea Friedman, Sarasota's doyenne of philanthropy. 

Every time I go to an AJC event I learn so much about the Jewish culture.  Growing up in a small town in Michigan, I didn't even know a Jewish person until I went to college.  Actually I didn't know an African-American or a gay person until then either!  We were a very homogeneous group in my little town of 1200, though also exceptionally liberal.  I don't ever remember hearing anything discriminatory about any groups of people, except maybe our team rivals in football or basketball, but of course, they all actually looked like us, too! 

The video of AJC throughout the years was quite eye-opening for me.  They have a long and illustrious history of profound positive change in world affairs.  It was interesting to see how they were a part of most major human rights events over the past 100 years.

Sue Jacobson, AJC Regional President, whose birthday it was, did a nice of acknowleging past winners of various AJC awards and of past leadership.  It is SO important for organizations to do that.

Patterson Foundation CEO and friend of Gwen's, Debra Jacobs, did a lovely job of presenting the tribute to Gwen, compiling powerful and moving statements about Gwen from a wide variety of people.  One statement made the biggest impression on me - SMH board member Bob Strasser said that the best thing the board ever did was to hire Gwen.  Now that is saying something.  One other interesting and funny thing Debra told about was how the staff would be on "FOG alert", which means when patients or their family members would remind the staff that they were "Friends of Gwen", in not so subtle of ways to get special treatment.  Well let me tell you, it works - and that's all I am going to say about that!

Gwen was presented a painting by Mordechai Rosenstein called Oath.  On it, is says, "Inspire me with love for my art and for thy creatures.  In the sufferer let me see only the human being", which is the physician's oath of Maimonides - quite lovely.

Others seen, in addition to those photographed below, were Gerri Aaron, Carol Seigler, Betty Schoenbaum, Andy and Ruth Maass, Diana Lager, Al Goldstein and Jean Weidner, Susannah and Mike Michalson, Marcia Jean Taub, David Verinder, Dr. Tom Kelly, Nora Patterson, Lori White, Tom Towler, Ilene Friedman, Dan Bailey, Estelle Crawford, Dr. Duncan Finlay, Charlotte Graver, Roxie Jerde, Laurey Stryker, Jo Rutstein, Alex Quarles, and Tom Luzier.

Honoree, Gwen MacKenzie and AJC Regional Director, Brian Lipton

Bill Buttaggi and Debra Jacobs

Margaret Wise, Marjorie North, Flora Majors

Phil and Charlene Wolff

Flori Roberts and Helen Kelly

Julie Milton and Dr. Anne Chauvet

Betsy Marshall and Julie Delaney

Lisa and Matt Walsh

Judy Cuppy and Rose Chapman

Dennis Stover and Phil King
Emily Walsh Parry and Lee Peterson

Brent Greeno
Gary Heard, Martha Honey, Carolyn Michel

Christine Jennings and Matt Callihan

Dr. Craig and Donna Barcomb
Rebecca Baxter

Margaret Callihan and Nancy Bailey

Lois Stulberg and Sally Yanowitz
Teri Hansen and Steve Wilberding

The centerpiece - which was actually much prettier than how it photographed.
The over the top dessert which no one could finish!

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