El Museo del Barrio’s annual spring gala was a sold-out affair this year, raising more than $1 million for the museum. Held at the Plaza Hotel, the evening began with cocktails, including specialty tequila concoctions, served in the Terrace Room, followed by dinner and dancing to music by Avenida B in the Grand Ballroom. Board member Yolanda Santos was presented with the Joseph A. Unanue Trustee Leadership Award by long-time friend Marife Hernandez; senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Time Warner, Lisa Garcia Quiroz, received the Corporate Excellence in the Arts Award presented by Lin-Manuel Miranda; and the founder and president of Fundacion Jumex Arte Contemporaneo, Eugenio Lopez Alonso, was honored with the Excellence in the Arts Award presented by Jane Holzer.

The theme of this year’s gala was borrowed from El Museo’s current exhibition, which explores the work and legacy of Mexican cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa, “Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film.” This exhibit explores the work and legacy of the Mexican cinematographer as Figueroa is one of the most renowned cinematographers of the 20th century. He worked both in Mexico and in Hollywood during the Golden Age of Cinema and built an enduring image of Mexico through his visionary style. The exhibition is on view now through June 27.

The entertainment featured a multidisciplinary performance by Erika Harrsch in collaboration with singer Magos Herrera. Maria Eugenia Maury, who wore a Giorgio Armani, black-label black-satin evening gown with Swarovski crystal embroidery applique and a Prive black fishnet mantilla with giant black patent paillettes, chaired the gala, along with her husband, William A. Haseltine. The dress code for ladies was a black dress with white gloves and a hat with a veil.

Some of the ladies wore the most elegant ball gowns I have ever seen outside of the video presentation at Oscar de la Renta’s boutique at 66th Street and Madison Avenue. However, for me, it was Jamie Diamond, a member of the young gala committee chairs, who stole the show, looking pencil thin in a white halter-top wrap dress.

Dr. Daryl Ford, head of school at the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, came to New York, along with his entourage, for a whirlwind visit. Penn Charter, with a philosophy based on the Quaker traditions, just celebrated its 325-year anniversary as a Quaker school institution. The school continues to maintain and uphold those values in a manner most appropriate to the 21st century, which means they loosened up a little—just a little. Gathering first at Friends Seminary, a Quaker K-12 grade school located in the Village, guests ventured over to Smith Restaurant, a very trendy eatery on Third Avenue between 10th and 11th streets. If you are in that neck of the woods, check it out. That is, if you don’t mind the unisex bathroom, which is really not that bad, as the stalls are very private. It’s just when you come out to wash your hands and fix your hair that it feels a little weird. Anyway, Ford addressed attendees by stating, “Penn Charter teaches its students to live lives that make a difference. Ethical decisions are based upon Quaker principles, and we have that Quaker edge and see a phenomenal future.”

Happy birthday, Dr. Ernest Robertson, Stanley Nelson, Jill Nelson, Betty Bizzell, Diane Clear, Raymond Cruz, Jean Dixon-West, Sheila Eldridge, Teddy Feliciano, Paul Griffin, Yvette Hall, George Harrell, Isiah Kelly, Jackie Love, Jackie Matthews, Jennifer Powell, Michael Preston, Alvin Reed, Nancy Taylor, Michael Vann, Rachel Wilson, Dawn Wood, our very own Bob Tate and our very own Cleveland “Kojack” Manley.

Want to know what Bunnie Ledford has been up to? Well, known formally as Marlene Ledford, she is president and owner of the carpet factory, V’Soske, which has been located in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico since 1930. Most recently, Bunnie met with two of Puerto Rico’s, most influential government agency heads, Alberto Baco Bague, secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and Antonio Medina Comas, director of the Industrial Development Company. After a tour of the factory where workers were observed in the process of manufacturing carpets, two incentive agreements were signed that will create and retain jobs while allowing the company to hire 26 additional employees. Additionally, work will begin on the physical plant improvements, resulting in energy conservation and a reduction of operating expenses. The V’Soske factory is recognized for its carpet designs, some of which are in the White House, La Fortaleza, the Vatican and Buckingham Palace. The plant has a reputation of having retained many of the design elements and equipment characteristics of the time when it was first established on the island. Accordingly, Bague stated, “The economic development team remains committed to support V’Soske, because it was considered a symbol of all that we have advanced in our industrial development. At the same time it’s a source of pride to know that these rugs are known worldwide made by Puerto Rican hands in Vega Baja.”

You will be very happy to know that the mental health organization Fountain House also raised more than $1 million at its annual symposium and luncheon, “Challenges and Possibilities: New Research on Schizophrenia.” More than 500 guests gathered in support of Fountain House in the Grand Ballroom of the Pierre, where Fountain House was named winner of the 2014 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Fountain House is the first mental health organization to be honored with this prize, the world’s largest and most prestigious humanitarian award. I was just sad that there weren’t any visibly active people of color involved in the organization at the event because, Lord knows, schizophrenia is a serious condition that we as a people struggle with. No worries. I’m sure we’ll receive some of the benefits.

The One World Observatory is now officially open. The views, I hear, are spectacular, and at an admission price of only $32, it is a great deal. Do you know it costs $100 to go to the top of the Empire State Building? I wanted desperately to attend the opening night gala, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Until next week … kisses.