- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2007

When Hillary Rodham Clinton, the junior senator from New York and leading Democratic presidential candidate, surprised her longtime friend actress Mary Steenburgen, along with other VIP guests at CARE’s 61st anniversary celebration Thursday, Colombian Ambassador Carolina Barco’s baroque ballroom took on a contemporary, electric buzz.

“Mary is a fierce advocate for people who need one and a strong defender and champion for women … so they may pursue their own dreams,” said Mrs. Clinton, who has known the Arkansas native and CARE Global Vision honoree for 30 years.

CARE Ambassador Sheila Johnson also was honored as a “real catalyst” by CARE President Helene Gayle before she received the relief organization’s International Award for Global Change.

“I’m throwing myself into this 150-200 percent, and my husband and son are with me. We’ve got to talk to our men,” the Middleburg philanthropist said before adding that she also plans to involve her women’s basketball team, the Washington Mystics, and “the entire WNBA” to reach CARE’s goal of “empowering women globally and erasing poverty.”

UPS was recognized for donating $100,000 to CARE’s Emergency Transportation Shipping Fund. Lisa Hamilton, president of the company’s foundation, noted that over the past 14 years, UPS has contributed $1 million for CARE’s disaster and relief efforts worldwide.

For the first time in decades, CARE didn’t hold its traditional ball at the Organization of American States preceded by dinners at various embassies around town. This year, CARE supporters dined at the embassies on Wednesday, with major donors and honorees invited to the Colombian residence the following night.

Thus, there was no long receiving line or cavernous hall and steep steps to negotiate at the OAS. Instead, there were icy mojitos, mango martinis, Windows’ luscious Latin buffet and flocking to the dance floor to move to the infectious beat of Grupo Latino Continental the moment the speeches were finished.

“It was lively, and people are excited. The whole night was a 10, ” 20-year ball veteran and two-time chairwoman Sheila Katz declared as she made the rounds in a tiered cranberry silk Dolce & Gabana. Other high-powered supporters led by powerhouse co-chairwoman Annie Totah included the ambassadors of Singapore and Bolivia, Candy magnate Frank Mars, Charlie and Christina Chiang, Debbie Sigmund, Kathy Leckey and husband Robert Best, Ray and Shaista Mahmood, Bobbie Godridge, Vera and Louis Emmerij and Mark Dybul, the State Department’s U.S.-Global AIDS co-coordinator, and Miss Steenburgen’s husband, actor Ted Danson.

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