Held outside under tents on a perfect summer-like night, the theme of the annual fundraiser was Egypt all the way. From henna-painting and belly dancers to live wild animal guests and “desertinis” it was a night for enjoying the exotic and benefiting a good cause.
The museum’s president/CEO Bob Griesmer, celebrating 20 months as head of the place, has some big plans and the immediate ones include a permanent butterfly exhibit that would be housed in a new building in the open courtyard.
But not just any building. A 21-by-40 foot building shaped like a monarch butterfly chrysalis expected to open in the next several months.
“The kids will love it,” said Griesmer, clearly happy about a gala that this year attracted nearly 300 people, twice a many as a year ago. “They will enter through the caterpillar mouth. It will be great!”
Ona more serious note, Griesmer said the museum is working hard at making the place a lifetime learning experience for both children and adults. A new playground is being installed. There will be a “Thinker Linker” giant wooden block hands-on blocks exhibit and a “Spineless Wonders” exhibit featuring all kinds of spiders coming soon.
Business aside, it was a night to party. Professional henna artist Heidi Olson was ready to get revelers painted up just right, there was a dress-up booth so guests could channel their inner pharaoh or queen and of course, a tour of the museum’s King Tut: the Boy King exhibit was also featured as part of the festivities.
And as the human guests perused auction items with FoxCt personalities Laurie Perez and Jim Altman as auctioneers, there were also those other guests who didn’t care so much for the revelry as much as the chance to get out of the cage and mingle a bit.
Jay Kaplan, the museum’s director of wild life and head of its Roaring Brook Nature Center facility, had a few dates for the night including Calvin, the famed fennec fox, who, with his siblings, made the news when a fox hound nursed the babies after the fox mother abandoned the litter.
“These guys are pretty tame because they are used to being handled,” said Kaplan as he cuddled Calvin and headed out into the crowd who are treated each year to a close up and personal look at some of the museum residents. “And the good news is that after the fox hound nursed them, she was adopted by a West Hartford family,” said Kaplan. “It was a happy ending all around.”
When Connecticut-based Subway Chief Development Officer Don Fertman went undercover on the CBS show “Undercover Boss,” he never imagined he would be asked back to the show that has business heads going undercover to get a better perspective on their employees and their companies. Fertman disguised himself as “John Wilson” a former drug and alcohol counselor looking for a new career when he appeared on the show in 2010 and now comes back for an episode titled :”Undercover Boss: Epic Bosses.” The episode airs Friday from 8 to 9 p.m. and features some of the most memorable bosses from its four seasons. Fertman, whose sleuthing on the show resulted in some positive changes especially for the franchise’s “sandwich artists”, found time from being boss extraordinaire to spend a few minutes Spilling the Beans with Java.
Q: Is it a compliment to be asked back and why?
A: I hope it is. The spin they are putting on the episode is that it is about the more intriguing bosses. I’m not sure what was intriguing about me other than that I work for a terrific company and with terrific people. I have been at the job for quite a period of time and that has given me a unique perspective on watching the growth of the company and its growth and that of employees including our sandwich artists.
Q: What changes did you make in the company after your first appearance and was it a rude awakening or a pleasant surprise?
A: I would say it was pleasant surprise to really see the level of customer experiences that was taking place at store level and the concern our folks had for our customers. The sandwich artists, all four of them that were part of my 2010 episode, were very focused on making their store the best possible. they wanted each customer to leave feeling really, really good. One of them, Jesse in Florida, gave me a hard time when she thought I was John Wilson and making sandwiches too slowly. She told the filming crew to shut off the cameras because there was line of people who needed to be served. She made such an impact when it came to customer service and she will be back for this Friday’s episode.
Q: Did you ever have a great boss like you?
A: I do have a nice boss now. My first job was pumping diesel fuel at a truck stop. There was a guy in the tower who used to yell down, “Fertman do this” and Fertman do that.” He was not particularly warm and fuzzy. Before subway I was self-employed in a rock and roll band, CT’s greatest, The Crayons. I was the orange one. I did it for five years and then, as my dad would say, I got a real job.
Q: On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being great, where did your company rate before “Undercover Boss” and where would it rate now?
A: I would say we were an 8 because I think in our organization we had recognized the fact our franchise owners are the key to the implementation of the business. Our developers are the key to the growth and the sandwich artists are the key to customers and keeping them coming back. As a result of the show in 2010 I think we are a 9 now. We needed to get in hearts and minds of our sandwich artists all over the world. We held roundtables with them to understand what the customer experience is like but what the company experience is like, and when we make decisions in the big house here, how those decisions impact the field on the front line.
Fox Ct co-anchor Laurie Perez was one of 37 women honored Wednesday by the New Britain YWCA at its 15th Biennial Women in Leadership Luncheon.
Perez, who is also co-host of FOX CT’s weekly political show “The Real Story”, and five others, were inducted into the YWCA’s Academy of Women Leaders at the luncheon.
The event recognizes women in central Connecticut who demonstrate extraordinary leadership and outstanding achievements.
“This is a well-deserved honor for Laurie. She works as an anchor, hosts a political show, reports on major news stories yet finds time to help other women through her volunteerism and mentoring. We are proud that she is a member of the FOX CT News team,” said Coleen Marren, FOX CT News Director.
Other women inducted in the academy were State Rep. Elizabeth Boukus, Central Connecticut State University professor Carolyn Fallahi, Coram Deo Recovery case manager Theresa Leonard, New Britain High School Academy for Health Professions and Hospital for Special Care consultant Maria Pietrantuono and Career Development Specialist at the Connecticut Department of Labor, Diana Ryan.
Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin was the guest speaker. FOX CT anchor Alison Morris emceed the event.
An additional 31 women were also honored for their community service and outreach efforts at the luncheon at the Aqua Turf in Southington.
And at WFSB…
Dan Kain may have not been feted recently but he surely will be in the next few weeks. He is retiring.
Kain, who has worked at WFSB for 25 years, will step down on June 7.
As far as naming a replacement to the story-telling beat?
“Hard to say,”said news director Dana Neves. “Dan is really and truly irreplaceable!!”
And speaking of tv, do you want to be on it?
The reality show pits one cook against another and ultimately ends with someone being chosen by the hot-headed Ramsay to oversee the kitchen at one of his world-famous restaurants.
If you are interested, send an email to HKCasting2013@gmail.com
In the subject line put your name and the city and state where you live. In the body of the email include your name, where you live, your address, you present occupation, a photo of yourself, contact information and a little about your culinary experience and why you think you would be a good fit for the show.
Is it true? Taylor Swift wanted Kate Hepburn’s place but the deal fell through! So she went to Watch Hill/ Westerly instead. That ‘s the rumor! CT loss?
England’s Prince Harry is coming to Connecticut Wednesday and people in Greenwich, where he will be having lunch and then playing a charity polo match, are all gaga over the pending royal visit.
Billionaire and Greenwich Polo Club founder Peter Brant will host a very private VIP reception for the prince before it is on to lunch and polo! Read more here!
In the meantime, I am taking a crash course on the sport and trying to find a brown and white polka dot dress!
According to the Raising Hale website, legislation has been introduced to the Rhode Island General Assembly giving the Connecticut governor permission to join Megan Lynne Cooney to Gregory Robert Parnell on or about June 8.
The couple’s ewedding website notes they will be married at Castle Hill Inn in Newport with a reception there to follow.
According to the governor’s office , the bride and groom -to-be are family friends.
But if you want to send a gift, the couple is registered at Amazon and Williams Sonoma.
That would be the annual “Latinas & Power Symposium,” a program that began as a networking event for the area’s female Latina community and since has grown to a business and career workshop that on Thursday attracted about 500 women.
“We have much younger women participating now also,” said organizer Marilyn Alverio, CEO of Ethnic Marketing which organizes the event each year. “It is amazing how it has grown.
Held at the Hartford Hilton, the symposium featured singer/performer Vikki Carr as the featured guest. Honored at the luncheon were the state’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Carmen E. Espinosa, and Ada Rios, a West Hartford entrepreneur.
Yolanda Villamil, traveled from Massachusetts for the event, noting that she was among those who were on the discussion panel the first year it began.
“It has come a long way,” said the Worcester travel business owner. “It’s still a wonderful event.”
He’s ESPN’s “Macho Sports Guy,” half of the popular “Mike & Mike” sports show team, the one who has lost an inordinate number of NCAA “Sheet of Integrity” wagers that he makes each year with on-air partner Mike Golic. Mike Greenberg is the married father of two with two best-selling books under his belt, each relating to sports. But recently “Greeny” has written a third, his first novel and one that addresses the very feminine and very poignant subject of breast cancer. With two major events benefiting organizations working toward a cure, the 10th annual “Race in the Park” at Walnut Hill Park in New Britain scheduled May 12, and the 20th annual Susan. B. Komen Race For the Cure in Hartford on June 1, it seemed the perfect time for Greenberg to Spill the Beans with Java on his a “chick book, “ “all you could ask for” about friendship, love, heartbreak and renewal.
Q: How did you get the idea of the book, three strangers brought together by illness?
A: The idea for the book came from my wife’s friend, Heidi Armitage, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and died. When Heidi learned she was sick, I watched my wife and other friends rally around her and it was unlike anything I had ever seen. Heidi never went to doctor’s appointments or chemo at Sloane Kettering without one or more of these friends. It was just amazing. I don’t know if it was so much being surprised or being impressed. I guess I was a little bit surprised. I just thought that these women’s capacity for taking care of each other was overwhelming.
Q: Why so surprising?
A: I think sometimes men see women as being characters in “Mean Girls.” But after watching my wife, and Heidi and their friends, all I can say is that when the chips are down, I don’t think I have anyone in my life like they were for her.
Q: So where does the book fit in?
A: My first thought after Heidi died was to run a marathon to raise money in her honor. Heidi left behind two young children and a husband. It was just devastating and I felt like I had to do something. But at her funeral, they were reading these amazing letters, incredible emotional letters about Heidi as a woman and I had not even heard of these people before. And they wrote about her like she was their sister. My wife told me they were from friends Heidi had made on an online breast cancer support site but that she had never met any of them. So then I got the idea of writing a book about three women who meet on one of these sites.
Q: You are considered a “macho sports guy” but there are nuances in the book that are so girly, you had to have had a woman on board to understand the connection between girlfriends. How did you find your female side?
A: When I decided to write a novel about three women, I broke out in a cold sweat. I figured I was going to make the biggest fool of myself and it was going to be impossible for me to pull this off. But I sent the first several chapters to my literary agent and said ‘tell when to stop writing this.’ And he called me and to my surprise said ‘this is good, keep going.’ I wrote about half and then enlisted a three-woman focus group — my wife, my agent’s wife and my yoga instructor, and they would read chapters and then send me notes on what was good and what was not. I have one here and I was advised regarding something I had written that ‘no 28-year-old woman would ever use the word blouse’ so I took it out. There were lots of those kinds of notes. I got a lot of it right because they kept helping me.
Q: So where is ‘Greeny’ in this book?
A: All over it. Every novelist’s first novel supposedly is partially autobiographical. There are parts of me in it. One of the characters in the book, Brooke, is probably most like me. The irony is my wife hates her because she makes a decision at the end of the book that my wife disagrees with. Brooke wants life to be perfect and when adversity comes into her life she does everything she can to make believe it isn’t there. That’s a little bit like me. I do think in a macro look at men and women, things aren’t as different as we think they are. Mortality, friendship, there is no difference. They are not gender specific.
Q: Any concerns that this “ladies novel” could compromise your reputation as a macho sports guy?
A: If I had a reputation as a mucho sports guy maybe it would. I am sure a lot of people thought ‘what is he doing,’ or ‘you wrote what?’ If you had told me five years ago this was going to be my first novel I would have said no but sometimes, as Golic’s wife says, you don’t find the story, it finds you. I am seeing a different crowd at the book signings and it’s wonderful. I know it is not a book for all my fans but that’s Ok.
Q: Your plans for the proceeds from the book?
A: I am donating 100 percent of everything to The V Foundation for Cancer Research in Heidi’s name. My sense of justice was violated by Heidi’s death and I feel like I wrote the book to try to get justice back. I wrote it to do something nice, to get some good from what was a terrible situation. It has so affected me, going out and meeting these people who have survived cancer. It has affected me profoundly.
Q: And your next novel?
A: I am about two-thirds done and it is done with a first person narrator. It’s about a guy who is very close to me and lives like I do. He thinks he has a perfect life and then an event takes place and he goes out on a quest to find what life really is.
Q: If your current book were made into a movie, how would you cast the lead roles?
A: Samantha: Olivia Wilde, Katherine: Jennifer Aniston, Brooke: Leslie Mann and Pamela: Susan Sarandon.
More than 400 people showed up to honor Dr. Patricia DeFusco, Medina Jett, Jocelyn Maminta, Yvonne Martin, Jeanne Milstein, Shari Phillips, Belle Ribicoff and Melinda Martin Sullivan, all chosen for their altruism and community leadership by Malta House, a non-profit that provides free primary medical care to those in need.
“I give away a lot of money,” joked Martin Sullivan about why she was chosen as one of the 2013 award winners. “Seriously though, I quietly try to make better the lives of those in the community who need help,” said the well-known philanthropist. “I don’t look for attention I have lived a very privileged life and it makes sense that I help others.”
The reception was a perfect way to start the Mother’s Day celebration a bit early for DeFusco, whose daughter Katie Cavanagh had nothing but praise for her mom who is a Hartford Hospital oncologist.
Several past “Wonder Women” including Karen Cronin Wheat and Thea Montanez were part of the crowd and among the few guys there, there was Malta House Foundation president Peter G. Kelly.
Emcee for the awards program was ESPN SportsCenter co-host Sage Steele.
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