The American Friends of Blérancourt (AFB) honored actress, producer, singer and songwriter Rita Wilson with the 2018 and first Anne Morgan Women of Courage Award and Jean Astrop with the Château de Blérancourt award during the AFB Annual Gala held in New York City.
“At the time when we celebrate the centennial of the end of World War I, we wanted to honor and recognize women of exceptional talent and commitment to empowerment of women throughout the world,”explained the President of the American Friends of Blérancourt Countess Dorothea de la Houssaye. “By honoring Rita Wilson, we celebrated not only her entrepreneurship skills as a producer, her artistic talent as an actress, a singer and a song-writer, but also her leadership and commitment to women empowerment,” Dorothea de la Houssaye added.
The American Friends of Blérancourt, which supports the development of the only Franco-American museum in France, the “Musée de Blérancourt,” have thus created an award in memory of Anne Morgan, who was a pioneer in harnessing the power of documentary photography and moving pictures to instigate a humanitarian response to the devastation of war. “Anne Morgan was a one-woman Marshall Plan!” explains the chair of the AFB Board, Franck Laverdin.
“We are lucky to live in a world where we are surrounded by women of courage every day, leading their countries through tremendous challenges, saving lives around the world, and standing up for every woman’s right to healthcare and every girls’ right to education,” Wilson said in her acceptance speech
“And then there are the women – millions upon millions of women – whose stories we may never know: mothers who face overwhelming danger to build a better future for their children; girls who risk their lives just to go to school; working women everywhere who break through glass ceilings large and small,” added the producer of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the two Mama Mia films. “The quiet, humble courage that sustains them each day is an inspiration to all of us.”
“Think about how much better the world would be if we knew these women’s names – if we knew their stories. That’s something Anne Morgan understood well.”
Before United States of America officially entered into the first World War, Anne Morgan, the daughter of the powerful financier Pierpont Morgan, led a unique all-women team of 350 American volunteers who were ambulance drivers and mechanics. After the war the volunteers continued to work tirelessly until the mid-twenties to rebuild a great part of France that was left destroyed by the war.
The annual American of Friends of Blérancourt raised funds to sustain and develop the promotion of Anne Morgan and of the Museum of Blérancourt in the United States and France through exhibition and special initiatives.
Wilson’s husband Tom Hanks was among the guests of this exclusive evening along with artists, social and business leaders, including Consul Général of France Anne-Claire Legendre, Cultural Counselor of France in the United States Bénédicte de Montlaur as well as William Astrop, Danielle and Sean Barrett, Karen Bidermann, Geneviève Wheeler Brown, President of the Pershing Square Foundation Olivia Tournay Flatto, James and Emanuela Gerard, Susan Gutfreund, Joan Kahn, Frédéric and Liz Laluyaux, Elaine Uzan Leary, authors Marc Lévy and Pauline Lévêque, Miles Morgan, Sonja Tremont-Morgan, Vanessa Noel, Jay Paul, gallerist Eric Mourlot, Projet Aladin Foundation President Leah Pisar-Haas, George and Jeri Sape, artist Kristin Simmons, Edgar Vaudeville, Allen and Heidi Roberts, Chanel’s Benny Tabatabai, Sonja Tremont-Morgan, Miles Morgan, David and Lisa Wolf, and Goleadoras founder Eglantina Zingg.
The Museum of Blérancourt, situated just north of Paris is the only museum of its kind, celebrating the Franco-American relationship from the time of the American War of Independence, throughout WW I and WW II to the present day. It is housed in the chateau of the late Anne Morgan who rebuilt the castle and gave it to the French government as a museum honoring French and American friendship.
To emphasize the need to empower women worldwide, the 2018 American Friends of Blérancourt also bestowed upon Jean Astrop, a former member of its board of Directors, the Château de Blérancourt Award.Jean’s generous devotion and support for the organization has led her to a remarkable legacy of leadership at AFB.
The gala featured a dinner designed by the executive chef at Benoit (Alain Ducasse bistro in New York), Laëtitia Rouabah, and the evening was co-chaired by four women: Genevieve Wheeler Brown, Pamela Johananoff, Sonja Tremont-Morgan, and Jeri L. Sape.
Among the major sponsors of the evening were the French perfumer Kilian and the porcelain maker Bernardaud.
Photo Credit: Getty and Annie Watt Agency