It’s an important season for Departures this fall as the publication marks its 25th year in circulation. While celebrations for the milestone anniversary have included a special-edition September issue and a retrospective tome published by Assouline ($75, assouline.com), last night editor in chief Richard David Story and senior vice president and publisher Steve DeLuca chose to turn the tables and celebrate a hand-picked selection of readers in the first ever Departures Philanthropy Honors gala.
Hosted by Norah O’Donnell of CBS This Morning, the event brought friends of the publication together at the newly opened Park Hyatt New York to applaud benefactors from four philanthropic organizations making a difference in their communities. “I’m inspired by the dedication of these individuals who are making a difference,” DeLuca said. “[I am] delighted that we’re able to bring more attention to these important causes.”
The evening featured a speech by actor and director Kevin Spacey, whose personal commitment to philanthropy includes supporting UNICEF and establishing an eponymous foundation devoted to fostering emerging artists. Spacey’s keynote focused on “sending the elevator back down,” a reminder to industry leaders to encourage, mentor and promote new and aspiring creative talent.
After a lively question and answer session between Spacey and Story, O’Donnell distributed the awards to the evening’s honorees, including Emily Blavatnik of The Fresh Air Fund, a 137-year-old not-for-profit devoted to providing summer experiences in the country for children from New York City; Trudy and Paul Cejas of The New World Symphony, an organization dedicated to fostering musical talent; Bev Spector for WildAid, an organization eradicating illegal wildlife trade; and Margaret Hyde for WriteGirl, a Los Angeles–based creative writing and mentoring program for teenage girls.
“Our readers contribute an enormous amount every year to people and causes they feel strongly, passionately about,” Story said of the inspiration behind the gala. “As Kevin Spacey put it best in his speech: While the American Express Platinum and Centurion card membership may have its privileges, it also has its responsibilities. [The Philanthropy Honors gala is] an affirmation of both.”