New York Annual Dinner Salutes 'Couples Beyond Borders'

Asia Society President Vishakha Desai chats with a distinguished guest at the 2009 New York Annual Dinner. (Bill Swersey/Asia Society)

NEW YORK, November 17, 2009 – Asia Society New York celebrated its 33rd Annual Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria with the theme Couples Beyond Borders: Global Forces. Four couples were honored who have made a difference as a team and individually in their communities.  

The evening featured upfront and personal interviews with the honorees, whose work spans the worlds of diplomacy, journalism, education and public policy. Grammy-Award winners, the Kronos Quartet entertained guests with a stunning performance. 

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, who won the Pulitzer Prize for their New York Times coverage of Tiananmen Square, were honored for their contribution to journalism and efforts to raise awareness about global health, poverty, and gender issues.  They recently co-authored the best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC Ltd., was celebrated for helping millions of Indians achieve the dream of home ownership and for his dedication to various social initiatives.  His wife, Smita Parekh, has provided opportunities for countless Indian students, regardless of financial ability, to gain an education through her work at The Mahindra United World College of India.  

Co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop, now Sesame Workshop, and pioneer in educational broadcasting, Joan Ganz Cooney was acknowledged for her many accomplishments alongside her husband, Peter G. Peterson. Peterson, a leader in the finance and economic sectors, is Chairman Emeritus and Co-founder of The Blackstone Group.

Former Chairman of Asia Society, Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke currently serves as the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Among his many roles in government service, he was the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia.  His wife, writer, reporter and human rights advocate Kati Marton, serves on the boards of the International Rescue Committee, Human Rights Watch, and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet were the recipients of the Cultural Achievement Award for their innovative strides in developing new music with composers and musicians from around the globe.  

Highlights included remarks from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who expressed his admiration and appreciation for the honorees, and muppet Grover stopped by for a quick lighthearted chat with Asia Society President Vishakha Desai.

The evening was moderated by Daljit Dhaliwal, anchor of Worldfocus on PBS.  Dhaliwal previously worked at CNN International and BBC News.

The Asia Society New York Annual Dinner would not have been successful without the special support of: honorary chairs Nancy and Henry Kissinger, Dolores and Clifton Wharton, and Cynthia and John Whitehead and vice chairs Citi, Sheryl and Chip Kaye, PepsiCo, Courtney Sale Ross, and Lulu and Anthony Wang.

Related links:
Nonesuch Records posting on the Kronos Quartet's Cultural Achievement Award
Li Jing blog posting on the 2009 New York Annual Dinner