Washington D.C.’s best Kennedy Center bash orchestrated by Paolo Zampolli

By: E.B. Warrington and Julia Du
Photos Courtesy of Society & Diplomatic Review

The elite entered in full glamour mode, rejuvenating Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday June 8th. They politely complied with all pandemic protocols whilst ever so smoothly dodging the rowdy cicadas that descended on the town over the weekend. It was packed!

Paolo Zampolli, appointed by the President of Dominica as Ambassador, and who sits on the Board of Trustees for the Kennedy Center was the maestro behind the  night’s adventures. He organized for The Reach to be the setting for celebrities, dignitaries, ambassadors and diplomats to celebrate World Oceans Day– observed annually June 8th. A day which reminds us of the significant impact we have on our waters.

Ambassador Zampolli and Ambassador Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani delivering remarks

Inside, we spotted top ambassadors schmoozing while delighting in the festivities. Don’t forget, most were hibernating throughout the pandemic. Lots to catch up on! Some of the delegates who clocked in to the alluring affair included, to name a few;  H.E. Domingos Fezas Vital – of Portugal, H.E. Noel Anderson Lynch – of Barbados and H.E. José Manuel G. Romualdez– representative of  the Philippines. H.E. Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar was accompanied by his wife, who radiated  in a  sensational gold and blue gown, perfecting the theme of the soiree- ocean tide.

Although most of society’s cream of the crop made an appearance, we couldn’t help our disappointment when a few exceptional folks were nowhere to be found. The stunning  Chaima Amari – who is on a sabbatical from the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, missed her flight and was absent to the shenanigans of the evening. Paolo Zampolli’s close friend H.E. Darja Bavdaž Kuret – Ambassador of Slovenia to the United Nations, as well as Jaqueline Quinn – the Kennedy Center’s Fashion Advisor, were also missing in action. We look forward to giving them a recap of the antics. Japanese artist Kenji Koga, who is a close friend of the Kennedy family, also expresses his regrets due to Tokyo’s COVID restrictions.

Overheard chit-chatting in their native tongue, Portuguese, was Ambassador Amanda Ungaro, H.E. Flávio Bolsonaro and Fábio Faria. (Sorry we can’t report the scoop, but their convo sure sounded intriguing.) Amanda, a special representative to Dr. Keith Claudius Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada was an impressive lady of the hour. She generously opened the doors to her mansion on Foxhall for a private, star-studded dinner following the reception.

We should point out that H.E. Flávio Bolsanoro is a member of the Federal Senate and Fábio Faria is the Minister of Communications for Brazil, who conducts the Nokia operations for São Paulo.

The frosting on the cake was keynote speaker Kathleen Townsend Kennedy, the eldest daughter of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. She gripped the audience with her heart rendering words and her emotional plea to sustain our natural resources. Let’s be honest, her name says it all. Without Kennedy’s presence, the entire thing would have been lackluster. In her speech, she reminded us of her family’s dedication to environmental preservation and her personal advocacy for tackling climate change. If you are not on board already, get with this agenda, stat!

The former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland continued her delivery by presenting  the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, with a striking 5” by 12”, sterling silver, one of a kind, baby shark sculpture. The Blue Marble Shark was specifically commissioned by Paolo for this meaningful cause, embodying the continuous pledge to all  living organisms and their ecosystems. (Sidenote- do you have any idea how many billions of people rely solely on the oceans provisions?)

The talkarive crowd found it rather difficult to pause their conversations for another highlight of the evening, the incredible performance of Mary Millben. She belted out impossibly high notes in her rendition of the timeless classic – “Impossible Dream”. The absurdly talented  singer, who has taken the stage in front of three consecutive U.S. Presidents, gave us chills!

Let us not forget to mention power players Senators Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island and Senator Paul Strauss from D.C. who added weight to the already hefty guestlist. Inked on that roster were prestigious Washingtonians, Colonel Kenny Kraft – Chair of the National Debutante Cotillion and Colonel Clark Cooper – Rank of General who didn’t leave his partners side, Colonel Mike Marin.

Amanda Ungaro, Special representative of the Prime Minister of Grenada, Gloria Starr Kins,
Paolo Zampolli and the Hon. Kathleen Townsend Kennedy

Leading the delegation from the tri-state area, Gloria Starr Kins brought a dynamic group of notable and distinguished figures. Being the Dean of the United Nations Correspondent for the Irish Examiner, Editor-in-Chief of Society & Diplomatic Review magazine AND contributing editor to Elaph News Service, we expect nothing less of Gloria and her crew.

Deborah Kanafani – the founder and creator of Bizzy Girls and one of Gloria’s lifelong friends was overheard debating  womens’ roles. Her worldwide organization is designed to support young women in their business ventures. Noteworthy characters at the party include;  renowned philanthropist and prominent socialite Meera Gandhi – founder of The Giving Back Foundation, Edward Moran – close adviser to the Waterkeeper and Riverkeeper Foundation founded by Bobby Kennedy (now under new leadership), Sueraya Shaheen – high profile photographer and art curator of Tribe Magazine, Toni Christiansen – a seasoned diplomat formerly involved in USAID, Nedo Belluci – global representative of Vaxxinity, and Fred Ketcher who is a Connecticut based venture capitalist. Everyone was mesmerized by each other’s achievements and certainly toasted to them (numerous times).

The schlep to Washington in the midst of a heat wave was well worth the effort! We were #blessed to receive a mini lesson on blockchain technology (still wrapping our heads around this one) from one of the youngest self-made bitcoin millionaires Erik Finnmann and mingle  with actor turned crypto guru Brock Pierce. We learned that Pierce only travels with a posse of 5 or more, including his personal Rabbi! (Oy-Vey!) Brock was so enchanting  that even Jude Elie – a running candidate for the Haitian Presidency, and Khaliah Ali – daughter of legendary boxer Mohamed Ali, were enamored with his  passionate spiel and positive energy.

Brock Pierce, Khalifah Ali, and Sueraya Shaheen

Kudos to the Watergate Hotel and their diplomatic director Shirin Kooros for their incredible flexibility and spot-on hospitality. They graciously welcomed us darlings as we stumbled into the gorgeous accommodations in the wee hours. Don’t make the mistake of missing the next one. Mark your calendars now, World Oceans Day June 8th, 2022.

Ambassador Noel Anderson Lynch of Barbados to the United States with Jude Elie
From Left to Right: Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez of the Philippines to the United States with
Ambassador Paolo Zampoll
Ambassador Zampolli with his wife former Ambassador Ungaro (now representative of the
Prime Minister of Grenada) and their son Giovani
Hon. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend with Congresswoman
H.E. Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States
Rabbi with Meera Ghandi and guest