Welcome to Washington…

Welcome to Washington…

Photo credit: Janet Donovan

“I’m just happy you are all here and hope that you will come again,” said Ambassador Esther Coopersmith who hosted a dinner in honor of T.H. Geraldine Bryne Nason, the new Ambassador of Ireland to the US.

“When I was in college we used to quote an American comedian who said, ‘I’m reminiscing with friends I’ve just met.’ And that’s what I feel this evening is like that I really feel that I can reminisce with people, literally, I’ve just met. On the other hand, I know that it’s a nice night where I can take hope that there’s a promise of great things to come in the relationships with all of you,” said Amb. Bryne Nason.

Ambassador Coopersmith is known as the Grand Dame of Washington and this bio from UNESCO tells us why.”She was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in September 2009, in light of her outstanding contribution to strengthening mutual understanding between peoples and her unfailing commitment to fostering intercultural dialogue. Very dedicated to the United Nations’ values, Esther Coopersmith was US representative to the United Nations (1979 – 1980), U.S. Delegate to the World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women in Nairobi (Kenya) in 1985, advisor to the State Department for the UN Status of Women Commission (1981 – 1993) and US Observer to UNESCO (1999 – 2000). In 1984, she became the second woman to receive the United Nations Peace Prize, a reward for her unerring efforts to foster dialogue and understanding between different cultures and faiths, especially in the Middle East.” She has hosted Presidents and foreign dignitaries for decades from President Jimmy Carter to Anwar Sadat.  She is one of the Capitol’s most relevant power brokers who operates successfully on the periphery of typical networking by hosting parties with eclectic guests – so there’s that.

The intimate group was asked to introduce themselves and here are a few responses:

Janet Osterman Pitt and Amb. Coopersmith

“I’m Janet Pitt. I’m Esther’s Chief of Staff and we have worked together for almost twenty years doing events around women’s issues, cultural diplomacy, peace in the Middle East, poverty, Northeast Asia and Democratic fundraisers.”

Ambassador Esther Coopersmith and Amb. Charles Rivkin

“Thanks for including me. I’m Charlie Rifkin. I’m currently the Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association. Before that my wife Susan Tolson and I had the huge honor of serving America abroad when I was stationed in France as the American Ambassador.”

“I’m Susan Blumenthal. I served for more than 20 years in the administrations of four Presidents as Assistant Surgeon General, then the first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health. I’m a retired Admiral and I’m married to a great Irishman – Senator Ed Markey.”

“I’m Dorothy McAuliffe and I am currently the Special Rep. for the Office of Global Partnerships at The State Department. I am the wife of the former Governor of Virginia and will have been married 34 years in two weeks and we have known Esther I think for most of that time.”

Dorothy McAuliffe, Dr. Susan Blumenthal, former Gov. (VA) Terry McAuliffe & Amb. Coopersmith

“I’m Maguy Maccario Doyle,  The Ambassador of Monaco to the United States and Canada. When I first took my position here my first social event was here in this house and you made me feel very welcome and I am very grateful for that. And of course, we have a great relationship with Ireland because of Princess Grace of Monaco. I do hope that many of you will come and celebrate the legacy of Princess Grace  as we have the ballet Monte Carlo performing for the first time at The Kennedy Center.”

“I’m Jan Smith and I wish I would have Irish blood, but I don’t know that I do. I haven’t done the DNA testing. I honor you and thank you Esther for hosting this. She is our queen. I have a background in journalism and I’m on the board of The National Cathedral involved with the international community. And, if we are what we eat, I’m all things Irish.”

“Hi everybody, my name is Josh Rogan. I’m a foreign policy columnist with The Washington Post. I have what I think is a somewhat unique connection to Ireland. My great grandfather, who fled Russia, spent several years in Ireland before coming to Ellis Island. And it was that time that he changed the family name from something that we no longer know to Rogan, an Irish name. So I’m a Jewish boy with an Irish name.”

Amb. Coopersmith with H.E. Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze

“My name is Hilda Suka-Mafudze. I come from Africa, specifically from Zimbabwe. I’ve served as a member of parliament in my country. That’s where I cut my teeth on diplomacy. From there on, I find myself here as an Ambassador of the continent of 55 member states. So I’m working with our Ambassadors who are stationed here on building the Africa that we want. And I would want to thank you Queen Ambassador.”

“I’m Janet Donovan. I’ve probably known Esther longer than even Terry has by four years. She was best friends with many other accomplished women friends who took care of me when I came to Washington in the seventies. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.”

Susan Tolson, Amb. Bryne Nason, Amb. Charles Rivkin

“Thank you dear Ambassador. This is such an evening to cherish. Even though we’ve just met we share a past. We share a past as Ambassadors to The United Nations,  the great parliament of women and the great parliament of non women. I’ve been a card carrying member, a torch bearer, for what we in the trade call multilateral diplomacy. I am deeply honored, dear Ambassador Esther, that a woman of the UN invites me among such glorious friends and I know as I can feel in this room, so many of you wear your Irish heritage with such pride. It’s an open secret in this town that they all want to be the Irish Ambassador.  I think being an Irish diplomat in this town is a little bit like being diplomatic royalty.”