Fall 2021 – President General Message
My first months in the office of President General (PG) have been happy, busy and productive. This would not have been possible without the hard work and support of so many of you.
Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of our donors, the 2021 Virtual Benefit for the Museum was the Society’s most successful to date, raising almost $60,000. I am particularly grateful to Anna Rich and Lauren Rose for their initiative, creativity, and hard work as Museum Benefit Chairs. Parent Chapter Dame Angela Masand was a graceful master of ceremony. Participants shared stories of family tea traditions, after which Anna gave a well- researched presentation with visually compelling and informative slides prepared by Lauren.
Lauren Rose, in her capacity as chairman of the Junior Liaison Committee, also organized an elegant live watch party for Junior Dames and young candidates at Society headquarters, complete with champagne, antique china, festive hats, and decorations. This is one of many events the Junior Dames have planned under Lauren’s leadership, and if you have a young Dame or prospective, especially living in or visiting the greater New York area, I encourage you to let the office know so that she can be put in touch with Lauren. She sent out a calendar of their activities for the year, which are not necessarily limited to New York. For example, in December in one weekend they will attend the Society of Colonial Wars of the State of New York Annual Banquet, a football game in Philadelphia with Eagles football team cheerleader, published historian and Dame Shelby Carr, and attend the Assemblies in Philadelphia. They are also instrumental in organizing joint activities with other lineage societies’ juniors.
Jeanette Keatts, Lynn Ferron, and Carolyn Levin also organized a lovely watch party for Chapter XXII Michigan. Chapter XXII alone raised $3650! I am grateful for their dedication and commitment.
Anna set the tone, prior to the event, with charming and personal handwritten notes to all high-level donors. Lauren capped it off afterwards by underwriting and sending individual gifts to Dames and friends who supported the event with $1000 or more. Their efforts are instrumental in making the Dames the special organization it is, and I cannot thank them enough.
Jocelyn Lance, as Book Award Chairman, and Kathy Springhorn, as Events, Calendar, & Hospitality Committee Chairman, organized a luncheon commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Book Award Committee, and honoring Audrey Svensson. The lunch was held on November 5 at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York. Kathy gave the toast to our beloved Past President General Audrey, honoring her more than 30 years of service to the Committee, followed by Audrey’s recollections. Jocelyn Lance then gave a very special, amusing, and well-researched history of our committee. She also designed and made lovely certificates honoring the past chairmen present at the lunch.
Kathy, with her artistic sensibilities, made the setting beautiful. She donated colorful, whimsical books as party favors, wrapped in purple and green ribbons, and then attached orchids with the same colors. Pegi Ivancevich, our First Vice President, underwrote the flowers for the event, which Kathy selected and organized. The event was warm and full of the affection that grows when we all work together for our common mission. For me personally, that includes my affection for Rosemary Vietor, a former chairman of the Book Award Committee, with whom I share many memories of the prior generation. I was so happy that she attended.
Our museum building and garden are our most important physical assets—an oasis of historic tranquility in a busy area of traffic, bridges and skyscrapers. The leadership of our Museum Committee Chair, Past President Brantley Knowles, has been essential to the progress we are making in the wake of Terri Daly’s retirement. I am proud to report that we have already held our first virtual 2021-22 school-year program with a kindergarten class delivered by our City University of New York (CUNY) student intern. Plans are in the works for more adult and virtual school programming.
We have exciting news about the Museum Garden. In the absence of conclusive information about surrounding land use at the time the Mount Vernon Hotel was operational, noted landscape designer Alice Ireys designed a garden behind the museum in the 1970s. Alice was an early graduate of the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Her long career included teaching, speaking, and garden design, most notably the Fragrance Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The latter was designed for the blind, and widely copied. Her work is well-worth preserving and recreating. Recently a friend of mine, Donna Ganson, gave a lecture on Alice Ireys for the Zone III Garden Club of America meeting. I am happy to say that Donna, our Garden Liaison Lili Neuhauser, and I met to review the garden with the intent of restoring that design. Donna has obtained the drafts and notes Alice Ireys made on the garden from Smith College and will be working closely with Lili. My thanks to them both!
Our first live Society-wide event since the pandemic will be our Holiday Party on December 13. Kathy Springhorn will spread her seasonal cheer and decorations as artfully as ever – but this time at the Union Club – while necessary heating repairs are underway at the Abigail Adams Smith Ballroom. I hope to see you there.
In the meantime, please accept my very best and warmest wishes for a healthy, happy – and hopefully-back-to-normal – holiday season.
Rebecca Howard Madsen
CDA President General 2021-2024