Diversity Affluence celebrates individuals of diverse backgrounds who have impacted society both with their personal success and their commitment to improving the lives of others.
Last week Diversity Affluence honored three such individuals at a brunch at B. Smith’s Restaurant in Sag Harbor. On an absolutely beautiful Sunday afternoon, guests packed the harbor side venue in celebration of the strides made by people of color and diverse backgrounds in achieving the American dream of personal, financial and business success, while at the same time embracing the responsibility of using that success to further enhance the lives of others that are less fortunate.
This year’s honorees included Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. Smith’s equity fund manages approximately $7.1 billion in assets and his philanthropic works include Project Realize and his private foundation Zoelimax.
Fashion model, author and entrepreneur Alek Wek was also recognized, not only for the success she has achieved in the worlds of business and fashion after escaping the Southern Sudan civil war at the age of fourteen, but for her unwavering altruism. Along with her partnership with Doctors Without Borders, Wek has been named a National Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization, Dr. Aaron P. Dworkin rounded out this year’s list of honorees. Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, a member of President Obama’s National Arts Policy Committee and the President’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts, Dworkin’s commitment to the arts is palpable. His Sphinx Organization supports and enables young people of diverse backgrounds to transform their lives through the power of the arts. Among his many honors, Dworkin was named by Newsweek as one of 15 People Who Make America Great. During his acceptance speech, Dworkin noted the extent of his diverse background. His father was Irish-American and his mother African-American, but at two-weeks old he was adopted by a white Jewish couple in Chicago. Hence, he noted the uncommon nature of his last name for a person of color.
Also included as an honoree was the MAC Cosmetics Company, a part of the Estee Lauder Corporation, noted for its celebration of the beauty in everyone, all ages, all races and all sexes. In 1994 the company created MAC Aids and has raised over $300 million worldwide for women, men and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Group President John Demsey accepted the award for MAC Cosmetics.
The awards themselves were stunning to say the least, as the venerable watch company Baume & Mercier presented each honoree with a watch from their renowned collection. On hand to present the watches from Baume & Mercier was B&M President Rudy Chavez.
Stage and screen actor Malik Yoba once again served as the afternoon’s Master of Cerimonies and as usual he played the role with his usual panache and great humor. Diversity Affluence founder Andrea Hoffman also informally addressed the crowd thanking all the sponsors and participants which included Moet Hennessy USA, Marriott International, Belvedere Vodka and Barclays among others. She also recognized long time Hamptons.com friend and altruist Reginald Van Lee of Booz, Allen, Hamilton for his commitment to Diversity Affluence.
A special video message was sent by former President Bill Clinton, in which he extolled the work of the honorees and Diversity Affluence for recognizing the contributions of these outstanding individuals. Individuals of diverse backgrounds whose common goal is to advance the reality that personal success can be achieved no matter the complexity and diversity of one’s background and to foster the notion that with success comes the obligation to create opportunities for others to achieve that same success.