Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oh, What a Night!

I'm not sure if the gowns and tuxedos had anything to do with it, but there was a festive feel in the air at the UN Women for Peace Gala Benefit. People were celebrating, the reception was packed and the silent auction beat expectations. All in all, over $100,000 was raised and will go towards scholarships at the University For Peace in Costa Rica.

Committee members solicited items for the silent auction, including this designer dress by Reem Acra and painting of Iowa by Joseph Lauer, whose work was recently purchased by the art counsel of the White House.

Volunteers solicted bids throughout the evening, resulting in almost $15,000 raised from the silent auction alone.

Anna Birgis-Hannesson, President of UN Women for Peace and wife of the Ambassador from Iceland, welcomed the crowd using a sound system donated by Scharff Weisberg AV.

Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, wife of the UN Secretary General, presented the UN Women for Peace Recognition Award to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams in front of the 180 guests.
Although I was only called in to work on the event for two weeks, the whirlwind pace helped relationships with the committee members develop quickly.

It was also great to have my "staff" of some of the best event planners I know on hand to help with check-in, VIPs and the silent auction. Thanks, ladies!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

UN Women for Peace Gala

I have to thank my good friend Danielle Yango for thinking of me when she heard the UN Women for Peace organization was in a bind. With just 10 days until their event, the group of Ambassadors' wives remembered that their event planner wouldn't be able to manage the event on-site because the date had been changed and presented a conflict for her. So for the past week, I've been getting up to speed on this effort and organizing the silent auction items, volunteers and run-of-show.

The 2009 UN Women for Peace Gala includes two award presentations by the Secretary General to the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, and his wife, the Patron of the organization, to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan. Proceeds go towards scholarships for woman interested in attending the University of Peace in Costa Rica.

This is the second annual event for this new organization that was born out of the UN Delegation's Women Club. The committee is enthusiastic; attendance has increased 300% in the last week and silent auction items include a 4 night trip to Iceland, including a designer jacket, custom-made there. For more information or to attend, contact me!

Monday, April 6, 2009

There's Nothing Like New Orleans

I had the pleasure of managing the logistics of the U.S. Human Rights Fund Global Strategy Exchange Convening held January 11-13, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Convening brought together U.S. social justice and human rights activists and philanthopic donors and global human rights activists and experts to learn about human rights practices in other countries and forge international relationships.

The 80 person meeting quickly grew to 140 attendees in the final weeks before the event. The Loews New Orleans Hotel remained flexible, even when the southern winter wouldn't cooperate with us and we had to move the welcome reception inside rather than hold it in the impressive Piazza d'Italia. Even so, the space was able to accommodate the well-attended event.

Bassist Sam Price solicited musicians to perform at the Welcome Reception as well as the group's off-site dinner at Mulate's Restaurant the following evening. The duo we requested for the first evening was joined by a clarinetist and bossa nova singer who donated their services while the New Orleans funk band on the second night easily pulled attendees from their chairs.

The meeting's agenda was organized by a talented content manager who filled the two days with a few plenary sessions but more intimate breakout sessions where attendees could focus on the topics most relevant to their work.

The highlights of the event were site visits around New Orleans on the topics of criminal and juvenile justice reform, housing and the right to return, workers’ rights, and arts and social justice as well as a trip to Mississippi to learn about the community building work of the North Gulfport Land Community Trust.

For more information about the work of the U.S. Human Rights Fund, visit http://publicinterestprojects.org/projects/partner-and-collaborative-funds/ushrf

Thursday, April 2, 2009

ChArLOTte’s “got A LOT”

A few weeks ago I paid my first visit to Charlotte, North Carolina to research venues for my non-profit client’s annual meeting, which is held in a different city each year. To keep costs down, I go for one overnight and see meet with as many venues and vendors as possible. This trip included seven hotels, three restaurants and a transportation company.

It’s always important to us to schedule site visit time wisely, particularly when travel funds are limited. I like to organize meetings 1½ hours apart leaving just enough time to get from site to site and walk around each property to see what amenities and/or reception venues exist nearby. Typically, my client likes at least one evening to include an off-site activity so I research venues in advance and then speak with as many people locally as possible to find the best options that are close enough to forego the added cost of transportation.

Of course, having a clear picture of the event details, including potential dates, timing, activities, and space requirements is most important. My client really prefers natural sunlight in the meeting rooms and that takes precedence over the splashiest of surroundings. In Charlotte, I found it somewhat difficult to find space that met this requirement but one hotel was able to offer a room next to a private hallway that has an entire wall of windows. Open the meeting doors, and voila - natural sunlight in the room.

Speaking of (in?) French...I finally have some photos from the meeting in New Orleans! Stay tuned next week for those!