Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’


Saturday, December 17th, 2016

December 2016: The Year I Brought The Rock Star Humanitarian,


Face to Face with the World’s #1 Diplomat,


Secretary General of the United Nations


New York City ~ On December 3, 2016, His Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations bestowed upon iconic Aerosmith frontman and Rock Legend, Steven Tyler the HCUND* 2016 Humanitarian Award at the United Nations Ambassadors’ Ball for his tireless efforts as the Founder of humanitarian initiative,

The honor is in recognition of the musician’s philanthropic partnership with Youth Villages through Janie’s Fund, created by Tyler in 2015 to give his voice to vulnerable girls who have experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect and are being helped by Youth Villages.

“As a father to three daughters, a son, and, now a grandfather, it broke my heart to learn that each year in America alone 700,000 children are victims of serious abuse or neglect and 68,000 will be sexually abused,” Tyler said. “All abuse is wrong — verbal, physical, sexual, emotional. We need to have better ways as parents to help our children and support them. Way too many kids are experiencing abuse, and we want to change that. Enough is enough.”

In its first year, Janie’s Fund has gained 2,700 supporters from 38 countries who have contributed more than $1.9 million to help girls receive evidence-based help so that they can overcome the trauma of abuse and neglect. This year, Janie’s Fund will allow Youth Villages to provide more than 18,000 days of care to girls in need, directly helping more than 300 girls.

Tyler has long had a desire to help with this issue, dating back to the 1980s when he was in a program for his own recovery. Hearing the personal accounts of women who had experienced incredibly painful and debilitating sexual abuse as children, he saw how the abuse put them on a path of suffering, post-traumatic stress and other disorders that eventually led to substance problems. It was their plight that inspired Tyler to compose the song, “Janie’s Got A Gun.”

“I personally know how addiction can fracture lives,” Tyler said. “I don’t wish that on anyone. To use my voice and the voices of many others to help these girls once again find their voice is my mission.”


img_7774In October I boarded a plane to Mexico City. My mission–to meet our honoree face to face. After all, as the Chair of the 2016 U.N. Ambassadors’ Ball Steering Committee entrusted with the responsibility of selecting the 2016 Humanitarian Award Recipient, I had lobbied diligently several weeks prior for Steven’s nomination.  And, now, with the big day fast approaching when I would actually be introducing him to the Secretary General plus a host of Ambassadors from around the world, I decided it was definitely time to look him in the eye.  After all,  I had never introduced someone I had never met. I had conducted countless researches on Steven. But, I wanted to get beyond what all of us music fans already knew: His remarkable global success as the dynamic front-man of the legendary rock band, Aerosmith; and Hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as “one of the greatest singers of all time.” He and his band have sold more than 150 million records; won 4 Grammy Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, and let’s not forget his own Emmy Award too! In addition to having number one hits, gold, platinum and multi-platinum album certifications, he and his band are on the highly coveted wall of inductees–the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!

With all of his hard-earned success, the world-wide adulation and fame, one would think that our honoree would be content to just bask in his beloved Hawaiian sunshine long into his Golden years right? Au Contraire!

For nearly an hour, I was granted a one-on-one talk with Mr. Steven Tyler, and this is what I learned: The proud father, and now a grandfather too, is applying his BIG VOICE recognized the world over, to raise awareness, bring hope and healing to a sector of our society that desperately need to be heard: the broken, the neglected, the forgotten victims of sexual abuse—young girls and young women whose entire lives have been altered from the trauma forcefully inflicted upon them.

As he spoke I listened intently to know whether what I was hearing was coming from his heart. There was no publicist or manager in the room, no one to filter his thoughts; no cameras rolling — Just a simple heart to heart conversation. He told me of the early 70’s when his Rock-N-Roll lifestyle was very different than it is today. And, he openly shared the toll that lifestyle brought upon him, his family, and even his relationship with his Band. But it is also those incredibly difficult seasons in his life that have given him a magnified dose of compassion… of genuine empathy for those suffering…and transformed his Big Voice into a fine tuned instrument for good.

Steven Tyler with Aerosmith leading a packed arena of avid fans to a chorus after chorus of "Dream On!"

Steven Tyler with Aerosmith leading a packed arena of avid fans to a chorus after chorus of “Dream On!”

Thereafter, I joined a concert packed with 23,000 Spanish-speaking fans singing in total harmony, every English word memorized verbatim. It is clear that Steven continues to inspire millions through his music—and through his personal example—of triumphantly overcoming life’s refiner’s fire– that each of us can find the strength to rise above, even life’s toughest challenges to help others find their own path to healing and live productive lives.

We reviewed several candidates for this award, with causes in harmony with what our Secretary General has tirelessly championed. We sought authenticity—not just a “lent” famous face because his/her publicist thought it’s “good for your image.” And, I was directed to the story of a broken girl…who told her story to someone who truly listened…so moved and haunted was Steven Tyler by her story that he wrote a song… and, the song resonated around the world. Her name was Janie.

I know there are women around the world who will jointly celebrate Steven’s Humanitarian Award because Janie’s story is part of their story too…and they too prayed someone would come to their rescue.

Yes, we all know about his iconic RockStar Big Voice—but now the rest of the world will learn he possesses an even BIGGER HEART! As a mother of 4 grown daughters, and 8 granddaughters,  it brings me great comfort knowing there is someone like Steven who has made it his life’s mission to stop the horrific abuse suffered by girls for as he and the Secretary General jointly proclaim “It has to stop! Enough is Enough.”

Seeing this image captured by photographer, Don Pollard during my introduction of Steven Tyler at the 2016 United Nations Ambassadors' Ball. Those are my words, penned on Friday, submitted to the Secretary General's team for approval then sent on Saturday at 2 a.m. the day of the event to Steven's Production Manager to add to their teleprompter operator's roster. And, these are the very sentiments I expressed and which Steven was hearing for the very first time when this moment was captured.

Seeing this image captured by photographer, Don Pollard during my introduction of Steven Tyler at the 2016 United Nations Ambassadors’ Ball. Those are my words, penned on Friday, submitted to the Secretary General’s team for approval then sent on Saturday at 2 a.m. the day of the event to Steven’s Production Manager to add to their teleprompter operator’s roster. And, the above are the very sentiments I expressed, and which Steven was hearing for the very first time when this moment was captured.

This is but one of my 2016 “Pinch Me Moments,” and it is my hope  that you too may be inspired by Steven’s determination and tireless focus to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  May we each strive to be #instrumentsforgood. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

During this Christmas Season, I cannot think of a more appropriate way to honor the birth of Jesus Christ than to love and care for one another.  As Steven has proven, no matter our chosen profession, there is something we can all do to help those in need;  all we have to do is commit to live a purpose-driven life…a soulful life tuned in to the needs of the broken amongst us.  After all, haven’t we all walked that difficult path, at least once in our lives? I believe compassion is nurtured…nurtured by our own personal sufferings. May we all find a way to lend a helping hand…and make this world a brighter, kinder place.


To share this extraordinary event with my 4 daughters and eldest granddaughter made it even more unforgettable.  It's so important to me that they too become a force for good.

To share this extraordinary event with my 4 daughters–Joanna Fankhauser, Gabrielle Chow, Christina Noakes, Miristi Gee,  and my eldest granddaughter, Leah Boice made it even more unforgettable. It’s so important to me that they too strive to be a force for good.














#tremendoustuesdaytip: ROBERT Restaurant NYC ~ Delicious and Inspiring!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

robertColumbus Circle, NYC ~ I have a new favorite restaurant, thanks to my dear friend, Marlon Corvera, Jeffrey Rüdes’ world-renowned “Style Advisor to the Stars” who clearly has the talents and palate for discovering NYC’s finest Chefs too! Marlon and I serve on the Steering Committee for the 2016 United Nations Ambassadors’ Ball and he has taken on the task of making sure we are able to multi-task during his rare vacant time slots on his incredibly packed schedule. The result–we dine at establishments that are also engaged in our highly-anticipated charity event–while we meet with some of NYC’s finest talents too.  Yes, Marlon leads the way in the “art of time management” and that leads me to today’s “delicious and inspiring” story.  The gathering place — Robert restaurant on Columbus Circle.  The cast–Marlon Corvera, Luz Thoron MacArthur [Chair, 2016 United Nations Ambassadors’ Ball]; Inga Ramos, Lanvin Paris Store Director; Ana Harris, Robert NYC; and its star Executive Chef Luísa Fernandes! Oh, less I forget, yes, the ESCAPESEEKER is present too, this time I’m serving as Chair of the Steering Committee as noted above, and Vice-Chairman of the 2016 United Nations Ambassadors’ Ball.  I also serve on the Advisory Council of the  Hospitality Committee for United Nations Delegations [HCUND] under whose umbrella the entire orchestration of the Ball is conducted.  Yes, it’s a lot of hats for one person.  But then again, why not wear three hats when you’re in NYC where there are so many, many talented individuals from which to draw outstanding ideas and continuous inspiration.  And, #inspiration is exactly what I derived from speaking to Executive Chef Luísa Fernandes.

In Pursuit of her Passion:  An Extraordinary Journey

You may recognize Portuguese Chef Luísa Fernandes on the Food Network’s Chopped episode back in November, 2009, where viewers  were instantly enamored by the passion and love the joyful Chef Luísa puts into the three dishes each contestant was required to prepare. Chef Luísa’s innovative cooking skills and calm, confident demeanor earned her the day’s top prize of $10,000.

Chef Luisa Fernandes

”I think that the victory is not mine, but all of ours [Portugal’s], because I’m Portuguese and proud when people recognize our cuisine. That’s why I will never enter another contest unless I can cook the cuisine from our country” said Luisa, during the post interview. One year later, on September 14, 2010 she returned as one of the four contestants of Chopped Champions.

Today, I had the privilege of learning more from Chef Luisa; there is definitely more to this talented Portuguese Chef than just winning Chopped. She is an inspiration to women everywhere, including this ESCAPESEEKER!

Be Willing to Re-Write Your Life’s Script

Chef Luísa was born in Monte Real, Leiria, Portugal. For the first 30 years of her career, she was an orthopedic surgery assistant nurse in which two of those years, she served as a parachute nurse. Luisa traveled throughout Europe, Malta, Morocco, Canada, Mexico, Sudan and Rwanda where she learned many cooking techniques from these cultures. With her passion for cooking she followed her dream and opened her own restaurant called Tachos de São Bento in Lisbon, Portugal. The restaurant proved a big hit with the locals, which included influential politicians. Restaurant consulting opportunities quickly followed, as well as television appearances. Luísa and her restaurant were featured in French Elle magazine.

Portuguese-Dinner1Although Luísa was enjoying her success in Portugal, in 2003 she decided to pursue her dream of moving to New York City. When she arrived at Kennedy Airport, not knowing any English, and without any job prospects she thought to herself, “If I find a job working in a restaurant I’ll stay in New York. If not, then I’ll spend three weeks vacationing in NY, then return home.”

Six days later, she landed a job at the Portuguese restaurant Alfama. Two years later she moved on to Galitos Restuarant in Mount Vernon NY. In August 2005 Westchester Magazine named her as one of the “The Top 10 Best Chefs” of Westchester, NY.

Luísa’s ambition is evident in her extensive resume which includes working as pastry chef at the United Nations, many New York restaurants such as Park Blue, Tintol, Georgia’s Cafe, Bairrada Restaurant, Nomad, and at Best Chocolate Cake In the World. She has hosted several events at Jame Bear, Cordon Bleu Institute (Boston), William Sonoma, New York Volunteer of America and Portugal Day in Central park. She was a private chef for pearl and jewelry mogul, Salvador Assael. She has also catered private parties for celebrities i.e., Johnny Dep, and for Portuguese government entities. Chef Luísa has been featured in numerous publications including the the New York Times, Diners Journal, Plate Magazine, Specialty Food Magazine, Luso Americano, Jornal Expresso, Mundo Português, Jornal de Economia, and Ionline.


the-fantastic-vewChef Luísa continues her successful journey in the highly competitive, world-class culinary universe as Executive Chef of NYC’s popular gathering place, Robert restaurant atop The Museum of Arts and Design [MAD] on Columbus Circle.

The restaurant offers diners spectacular views of Central Park, Broadway, Central Park West and Columbus Circle while savoring the delectable, mouth-watering creations of Chef Luísa. I like to call it, “Inspired Dining!” Bon appetit or as the Portuguese would say, “Bom apetite! Vamos comer!”

If you’re looking for an inspiring gathering place with a spectacular view of one of the most iconic “cityscapes” in the world, I highly recommend you book a table, or the entire restaurant for your next unforgettable celebration.  Even regular business meetings and event planning like ours become a celebration with Chef Luísa at Robert restaurant!


 There’s Nothing Ordinary About Dining at Robert

[pictured: ESCAPESEEKER, Marlon Corvera, Inga Ramos, Chef Luísa, and Luz Thoron MacArthur]

Dining at Robert IMG_3777


A special Thank you Marlon Corvera [center] for orchestrating yet another unforgettable and productive luncheon gathering.  Thank you Anna Harris [left] for the exquisite VIP welcome. And, Thank you Inga Ramos [right] for your most generous surprise! I’m finding time and time again that New York City residents sure know how to treat their guests! How am I ever going to leave this magnificent city? Maybe I should just follow Chef Luísa’s example and become a New Yorker?

Here’s to inspiring women living extraordinary lives!

Yours truly,

Mel Gee Henderson aka The ESCAPESEEKER

Background Story Resource Cred:  Tia Maria, Portugal