14th November, 2013

San Francisco Women’s Luncheon 2013

The San Francisco American Ireland Fund Women's Luncheon was held on Thursday, November 14th at the Four Seasons Hotel.  California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom gave a warm introduction to guest speaker Maureen Orth.   Maureen Orth is an award-winning journalist, a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, and the founder of the Marina Orth Foundation.  Orth began her journalism career at Newsweek in 1972.  In the last two decades she has traveled the world for Vanity Fair, reporting on a wide range of both heroes and rogues. She has interviewed various heads of state including Vladimir Putin, Margaret Thatcher, Argentine President Carlos Menem, Irish President Mary Robinson and the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni. Over a twelve year period (1994-2006) she made headlines writing five investigative pieces on Michael Jackson. Her piece in 2012 on Tom Cruise and Scientology was a best seller and went viral on the Internet.  In November 2013, her piece on Mia Farrow generated huge interest.  Orth is currently a Trustee of the University of California, Berkeley Foundation.   She received a BA in Political Science at Berkeley, and a Masters in Journalism and Documentary Film at UCLA. Her late husband Tim Russert, was the Washington bureau chief of NBC News and moderator of Meet the Press. Their son, Luke Russert, is a correspondent for NBC News.

Maureen Orth was radiant as she reminisced about her early memories of growing up around San Francisco, when the cable car operators would genuflect as they passed by old St. Mary's Church. She spoke fondly of her time at Lone Mountain College and was cheered enthusiastically by her sorority sisters.  Orth shared a range of fascinating stories and reflections on her career and spoke passionately about her experiences interviewing her subjects, particularly her time with Michael Jackson.

West Coast Director Marjorie Muldowney welcomed the group of 350 guests and singled out Luncheon Chairs Kathleen Dowling McDonough, Mary Driscoll Toboni and Olivia Gaynor-Long for their tremendous work in making the Luncheon such a wonderful success – "the biggest and best ever!".  The Luncheon program included AIF Board Director Bart Murphy who paid a special tribute to the late poet Seamus Heaney with a beautiful rendition of "Digging".  Life Trustee and longtime supporter Maryon Davies Lewis was present along with Senator Ellen Corbett, Judge Kathleen Kelly,  Vice Consul Kevin Byrne and former Luncheon Chair, Meagan Levitan.

Special thanks to Honorary Chair EJ Tracy for her magnanimous support and sincere appreciation to Erin Doyle Ebeling of APS Corporation, Cinta Gibbons, Virginia Kavanaugh, Denise LaPointe, Eileen Moore Murphy, Kathleen Ryan, Maureen Sullivan, Carmel Gilmore of Microsoft, and the University of San Francisco for their generous table underwriting. In addition, Mary McKeever and the Irish Pastoral Center choir added a joyful musical welcome for our guests during the champagne reception.

The Luncheon Drawing was generously sponsored by Aer Lingus (offering new nonstop service from San Francisco to Dublin beginning in April 2014) along with The Merrion Hotel, Ashford Castle and Dromoland Castle.  Other sponsors included Cinta Salon, San Francisco Giants, MoMo's Restaurant, The Irish Store.com, Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, Irish Repertory Theatre,  Four Seasons Hotel, Powell's Sweet Shoppe Burlingame, Bulgari, Lily O'Brien's Chocolates, Blue Fog Market, William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd., and Gianna Driscoll Toboni.  Cynthia Lopez of Aer Lingus conducted the Luncheon Drawing with Mary Toboni and The Exclusive Ireland Trip was won by a delighted Annemarie Conroy.

Thanks to all our guests for coming together for this spectacular event and supporting The Ireland Funds Promising Ireland Campaign to assist Irish charities.