Education: Finch College
Place of residence: New York City
What are your definitions of the term socialite and philanthropist as understood by the public?
Socialites can drop the ‘social’, and just use ‘lite’. It has become meaningless. Anyone with enough cash can hire a second rate p.r. agent—who will get them into enough pictures. Then some segment of the population will deem them ‘socialites’. Look at ‘Real Housewives’—the lowest common denominator in current American culture. They call themselves socialites. Even The Times repeated this self appointed title by citing the number of times some of their party pictures have appeared. Philanthropy is the giving of time, money, or spirit for the right reasons and ideally, anonymously.
Which term best describes you? I try to duck the first term and aspire to the second.
Describe, in your opinion, what makes for a true socialite and Philanthropist? I’ve described this is 1.
Where were you born and tell us a little bit about your upbringing?
I was born on Long Island, New York to a violin-making Doctor, and a lovely Canadian nurse. I had a conventional suburban upbringing, with glints of culture and creativity from my adored parents. At 16, I fled to (the late) Finch College and never went back, except to see those glorious folks. My parents were independent thinkers, aware, informed, generous, non-judgemental and loving. They encouraged me to be all of that.
Has the term, socialite, been tarnished by unflattering press about the new set of social girls? “I hate snobbery, intolerance, selfishness,liver and Dick Cheney.”
I think socialties of the 40’s and 50’s had a few things that these girls don’t have, including personal style(not a stylist’s), life-long exposure to a rarified life style, and profound amounts of money. The current crop are coached by professionals, and have thousands of media outlets to keep the spin spinning with more centrifugal force than substance.
“I hate snobbery, intolerance, selfishness,liver and Dick Cheney.”
Could you walk us thru one of your typical days?
Today I made breakfast for 3 kids, dropped our house guest at the Hampton Classic to ride, set up my son and his math tutor, took my daughter to tennis clinic, did laundry, went to lunch at Charlotte’s Moss’s to discuss The Parrish Art Museum(whose board we are on), watched the U.S. Open, set up a college tour for my son for next week, bought a friend a present for tonight’s 50th birthday, fixed the girls dinner, preceded by a cocktail at a friend’s.
What is the cause that you are most passionate about and committed to?
My two charities that I am most committed to are New Yorkers for Children, which serves New York City’s foster children, and The Parrish Art Museum, the East End’s premiere museum. And we revved up for Obama.
What would you like to accomplish in your lifetime?
I’d like to see my kids happy and productive. I’d like to squeak out a book (my current occupation) and a couple of paintings (my field of study), and to travel much more. And world peace.
I think it would be safe to say that most people have the notion that being a cosmopolitan or a New York socialite/philanthropist is all about parties, beautiful designer wardrobes and endless champagne. What, in your experience, is it really like?
I think real philanthropic activity is covered mostly in trade, not-for-profit journals, and in the news section of papers, not the social ones. Real philanthropy takes place in lawyers’ and bankers’ offices, and in the places that they benefit, and as volunteerism. No champagne.
Do you have any pet peeves that you can share?
I hate snobbery, intolerance, selfishness, liver and Dick Cheney.
What inspires you to do the good deeds that you do?
Good deeds make me feel good and set a good example for my kids.
Can you give any advice for proper young ladies and gentlemen who aspire to your accomplishments?
Young ladies and gentlemen should not worry about being ‘proper’, and just follow their hearts.