On the lovely late Spring day of Thursday, June 7th, The Asia Foundation held Second Annual Lotus Leadership Awards Luncheon at Central Park's Loeb Boathouse. The afternoon kicked off at 11:30 am with crisp light cocktails and a viewing of various works of fine art. As attendees slowly arrived the allure of select paintings, courtesy of event partner National Geographic, became an instant draw.
The luncheon, which recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that have made major contributions to the well being of women in Asia, began promptly at 12:00 noon. Following a brief welcome by The Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold, Event Chair Ida Liu took the helm as Mistress of Ceremonies. Liu, the Head of North American Asian Clients Group at Citi Private Bank, a recognized and prominent member of The Asia Foundation, was the consummate host.
Shortly following her greeting, Liu introduced a brief video entitled The Lotus Circle Making A Difference with a break for the seated luncheon, the day resumed and concluded with a full panel discussion moderated by award winning ABC News broadcaster Lynn Scherrfeaturing: Dr. Sakena Yacoobi's Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning; Carol H. Yost Director of the Women's Empowerment Program at The Asia Foundation; and Isobel Coleman, Council on Foreign Relations.
The panel discussion proved to be particularly enlightening. Noteworthy mentions included Dr. Sakena Yacoobi's expressing the power of money and its critical need in her native Afghanistan for the education of women; Carol Yost's discussion of strategies women should adopt in today's society as they face external barriers; and Isobel Coleman discussedchanging the attitude of the role of women in Modern Afghanastan.
We spoke to Ida Liu immediately following the luncheon and panel discussion who shared her thoughts on Dr. Yacoobi's message "Dr. Yacoobi's message was absolutely phenomenal it was heart warming and touching. This is all about women, all about women's empowerment and it's all about the benefits of women in Asia and giving them a better life." Her thoughts on the success of the luncheon? "This cause is a fantastic one, and this lunch was a huge success and we're doing our jobs by disseminating the message that the great work we're doing on the ground in Asia has saved one more person's life, one more Asian woman's life, one by one a day at a time is what we're trying to do."
Each attendee departed with a gift bag of assorted items including: Estee Lauder's Advance Night Repair for face an eye, the current issue of National Geographic, The Asia Foundation's Annual Report and other goodies.
The event was sponsored by Chevron and Estee Lauder.
*photos courtesy of Whitney Legge/The Asia Foundation