This past weekend marked the most successful bi-annual Windward School Benefit to-date. This year’s event set a new record with 600 attendees (including Hugh Jackman and Jacob Gottlieb among others) raising more than $1 million to provide more students with access to the school’s education program through increased financial aid.
The Windward School was founded in 1926 by Isabel Greenbaum Stone and is renowned for being one of the top U.S. schools for children with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities. The Windward School has three campuses in White Plains, NY and New York City and serves students in grades 1 through 9. With a student to teacher ratio of 4 to 1, The Windward School uses small class sizes to help students achieve academic success and also combines academic coursework with opportunities for social and emotional growth. The intentionally diverse and inclusive setting enables students to understand their learning differences, build confidence, and develop self-advocacy skills.
Guests Included Anderson Cooper, Jacob Gottlieb, Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman
This year’s bi-annual event was held at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan on the evening of March 10th. The event was chaired by Lisa Bezos and Donna Poyiadjis and had a distinguished list of attendees and honored guests including Anderson Cooper, Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, and Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz. Anderson Cooper spoke about his childhood difficulties with dyslexia and gave thanks to the reading doctors and teachers that helped him by “opening up a world that may feel mysterious.” He closed by saying that without them, “I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I thank them every day of my life.”
Hugh Jackman was also in attendance and, with the assistance of energetic auctioneer CK Swett, kicked off the live auction that included items donated by Jackman such as a variety of movie items and a singing voicemail greeting. The silent auction was a major contributor to the $1 million dollar evening with silent auction items like once-in-a-lifetime vacation packages, cultural events, jewelry, and sports activities, attracting huge bids. CK Swett ended the auction with a lively and spirited paddle raise for financial aid that took the money raised to a new, historic level.
The Windward School Benefit was also attended by prominent members of the New York business and fashion communities including Mary Callahan Erdoes, Allison Brod, David Yurman, and Mark Bezos. Jacob Gottlieb, the CIO of Visium Asset Management was also in attendance that evening. The Windward School is one of Gottlieb’s many philanthropic interests. As a born and bred New Yorker, and as someone who’s career success was rooted in a strong education, Gottlieb is a strong supporter of organizations that are local to New York City and support the education and advancement of youth.
An Eventful Night in New York
While Mark Bezos, attended the Windward School Benefit, his brother Jeff was also in New York attending another event on the same evening: the 114th Explorers Club Annual Dinner. The event held March 10th hosted 1,200 of the world’s leading explorers and guests at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
The Explorers Club has been honoring the accomplishments of its members for more than a century and famous firsts accomplished by its members include the first trips to the North and South Poles, the first solo transatlantic flight, the first summit of Mt. Everest, and the first landing on the Moon. The Annual Dinner included an elaborate reception, silent and live auctions, and an awards ceremony. Among his year’s accomplished explorers were astronaut Jim Lovell who was awarded the prestigious Explorers Club Medal, as well as Jeff Bezos who received the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award.
Jeff Bezos is most well known as the founder of Amazon but is also the founder of aerospace company Blue Origin. Blue Origin aims to lower the cost and increase the safety of spaceflight so that humans can better continue exploring the solar system. Bezos and his team received The Explorers Club Citation of Merit in 2014 for recovering the F-1 engines of the Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon. This year’s award celebrated some of Bezos’ recent accomplishments including the numerous successful launches and landings of the New Shepard rocket, and his ongoing work on the New Glenn rocket which is scheduled to lift off for the first time in 2020.
Tickets to The Explorers Club Annual Dinner which is well known for its exotic and unusual cuisine ranged from $500 for a single ticket to $40,000 for a table of 12. Premium priced tickets included priority seating, behind-the-scenes experiences, a VIP cocktail reception, sponsorship acknowledgements, and access to the special guests.