“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” as my beloved Aunt Mary always said. And so half a year after our January “Fascinating Men” issue, we take a break from our annual July food/hospitality issue to offer instead “Fascinating Women.”
What makes a woman fascinating? According to our Wits, who were gracious enough to speak with us at the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” event in May, part of it is her ability to balance service to others with being true to herself. And that certainly will resonate with readers in our “First Ladies” section. Cover subject Ann Huntress Lamont, wife of Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, is perhaps best known as a successful venture capitalist. But in this she has focused on helping women entrepreneurs – while raising three children, now grown, and caring for her mother in the end stages of dementia – as Phil discovered when he sat down to talk with her.
In her new role as a first lady – more like first partner – Lamont has said she looks to the quiet grace Michelle Obama brought to family life at the White House. She might as well have been talking about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, whose 90thbirth anniversary we’ll remember July 28. Each of these icons served the nation in her own inimitable way, transforming the American culture and lifestyle in the process. We salute their unique contributions. And because we like to be a bit cheeky, we include in this section two of Great Britain’s “first ladies” – Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex – along with Tony Award-winning singer-actress Laura Benanti, who’ll appear at Caramoor in Katonah July 6 (Gregg’s story). (No, she’s not an actual first lady, but she’s played one, Melania Trump, on TV.)
The richness of womanhood is such that women have always worn many hats, as you’ll see in our list of “Fascinating Women.” That they have always had as many opportunities has not been as apparent. It is a measure of how far women have come, we discuss in our opening essay, that 50 years after NASA put a man on the moon – July 20, to be exact – the space agency has announced it is planning to send a woman there in Project Artemis, named for the Greek goddess of the moon.
We’re not there yet. Few understand the chasm between female aspirations and actual accomplishments better than Stacey Allaster, chief executive, professional tennis at the White Plains-based United States Tennis Association. The child of a single mother, she worked her way up from three paper routes to a career with oversight of the US Open, among other tournaments and responsibilities. What is needed, Allaster says, is more women helping other women and that requires women in leadership positions. Women like former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, who recently received the Greenwich Historical Society’s Leadership Award (Jeremy’s story), and Juanita James, president and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, whose Fund for Women & Girls strives to ensure the educational and economic viability of low-income women and families.
With opportunity comes transcendence. Nancy White – who had a long, successful career in sales and marketing for everything from auction houses to national magazines to nonprofits – reinvented herself as the owner of the “The Flower Bar” in Larchmont. Michele Oka Doner – artist in residence at Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison and at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx – resurrects the bark of felled hemlocks in artworks. Angélica Negrón, NYBG’s composer in residence, has such a way with electronic music that she even “plays” vegetables. Talk about the music of the spheres.
When you give a woman a chance, you don’t just transform the woman. You transform the world.
A 2018 Folio Women in Media Award winner, WAG magazine editor in chief Georgette Gouveia is the author of the new “The Penalty for Holding” (Less Than Three Press), a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and “Water Music” (Greenleaf Book Group). They’re part of her series of novels, “The Games Men Play,” also the name of the sports/culture blog she writes weekly installments of her “Daimon: A Novel of Alexander the Great” on wattpad.com.