Portrait of Georgia at The Smithsonian

Editorial credit: Caroline Coppel

Georgia – the country, not the state – threw itself an elegant birthday bash last Tuesday, commemorating its 20 years of independence from Russia.

“Portrait of Georgia,” held at the Smithsonian’s Kogod Courtyard, was equal parts staid cultural event and jovial soiree. At the start of the party, men in traditional garb strolled around the bright, airy venue, or quietly listened to a set by Georgian musical group The Shin. Young couples in varying forms of eveningwear stood in long, loosely defined lines waiting for access to the open bars, paying only slight attention to the batik wall hangings on display. Both groups were skirting the courtyard’s two large, flat fountains, unsure of whether to walk around or through them.

The food was served in the form of a Supra, a traditional Georgian feast. Guests circled the two long tables laden with dishes, eyeing their exotic descriptions – trout in pomegranate juice, melted cheese with mint – and taking pictures with their phones. They could only look, however; as part of a Supra, eating begins after a toast, and waiters stationed by both tables made sure this custom was upheld. They pushed people’s eager hands away, politely but firmly telling them to wait “just a few more minutes.”

After Georgian Ambassador Temuri Yakobashvili completed his toast, the crowd descended upon the buffet with almost no restraint. Waitstaff struggled to replenish the stacks of plates as people cut in and out of line, stocking up on potatoes and barbecued veal sticks. By the time the night ended, both tables were picked completely clean.

There was also a performance by Sukhishvili, Georgia’s national ballet company, and Batumi singing and dancing. Overall, it was a great party: let’s hope it doesn’t take the Embassy of Georgia 20 years to throw another one.

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Now there's a Palin-mentary

Makeout movie of the summer!

Via Real Clear Politics:

Shortly after Republicans swept last November to a historic victory in which Sarah Palin was credited with playing a central role, the former Alaska governor pulled aside her close aide, Rebecca Mansour, to discuss a hush-hush assignment: Reach out to conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon with a request. Ask him if he would make a series of videos extolling Palin’s governorship and laying to rest lingering questions about her controversial decision to resign from office with a year-and-a-half left in her first term. It was this abdication, Palin knew, that had made her damaged goods in the eyes of some Republicans who once were eager to get behind her potential 2012 presidential campaign.

The response was more positive than Palin could have hoped for. He’d make a feature-length movie, Bannon told Mansour, and he insisted upon taking complete control and financing it himself — to the tune of $1 million.

The fruits of that initial conversation are now complete. The result is a two-hour-long, sweeping epic, a rough cut of which Bannon screened privately for Sarah and Todd Palin last Wednesday in Arizona, where Alaska’s most famous couple has been rumored to have purchased a new home. When it premieres in Iowa next month, the film is poised to serve as a galvanizing prelude to Palin’s prospective presidential campaign — an unconventional reintroduction to the nation that she and her political team have spent months eagerly anticipating, even as Beltway Republicans have largely concluded that she won’t run.


Gift of Reading Gala

RIF’s 2011 Gift of Reading Gala will be a memorable evening filled with inspirational volunteers and supporters who share RIF’s vision of a literate America where all children have access to books and discover the joy of reading. Each year, the gala brings together distinguished policy makers as well as corporate and community leaders. The event raises critical funds which will help enhance the quality and impact of RIF’s work nationwide. We hope that you can be a part of this special celebration!



Wednesday, May 25, 2011


• 6:00 p.m. Opening Cocktail Reception

Silent Auction artwork featuring renowned children’s book illustrators


• 7:30 p.m. Dinner and Program


UGI Utilities, Inc. will be honored with the Legacy of Literacy Award

RIF Volunteer of the Year Award Winners





The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel

1127 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036



Please call the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel at (202) 347-3000 and ask for the “Reading Is Fundamental Room Block” to reserve a room at a discounted rate before Wednesday, May 5, 2011.



Driving and Public Transportation Information



Individual tickets and sponsorship packages are available. Click here for more information



Black tie optional






If you have any questions or would like more information about the gala, sponsor benefits, or purchasing tickets, please contact April Hendrickson at ahendrickson@rif.org or 202.536.3443.

Greater Washington Boys & Girls Clubs Celebrates 125 Years of Service at the 26th Annual Tim Russert Congressional Dinner

Honorable John Boehner Among Honorees; Luke Russert to Serve as Master of Ceremonies


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2011 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) celebrates 125 years of service to children, teens and families and continues its tradition of recognizing local and national leaders who demonstrate a strong commitment to giving our children and our country a better and brighter future at the 26th Annual Tim Russert Congressional Dinner on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at the JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.


A true advocate for youth, Russert served on the BGCGW Board of Directors for 13 years—and through his leadership—raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, as emcee of the Dinner to support BGCGW’s world-class programs in education, technology, diversity and career exploration. In 2010, the Annual Congressional Dinner was renamed in his honor. Tim’s son, Luke Russert, embracing charitable causes championed by his late father, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.


Honorees include: Honorable John A. Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (R) Ohio; Michael and Kathryn Hanley, Hanley Foundation; and Diamonia Jackson, 2011 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington’s Youth of the Year.


“Greater Washington Boys & Girls Clubs proudly looks forward to the future as we recognize significant contributions of local and national leaders to youth here in Washington, D.C. and to Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States,” said BGCGW President and CEO Pandit F. Wright.  “With strong supporters and partners throughout our 125 year history, BGCGW will continue providing programs and opportunities for learning, growth and creativity to ensure each of our Club members has an individual plan for their future.”


About the Tim Russert Congressional Dinner

The first Boys & Girls Clubs Congressional Dinner was held in 1986 to commemorate Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington’s 100th anniversary. Renamed in Russert’s honor in 2010 as the Tim Russert Congressional Dinner, it has become a premier event in Washington, D.C. raising vital financial support for one of the area’s most respected youth organizations.  Past honorees include such notables as General Colin Powell, Vice President Al Gore, Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Abe Pollin, Steve and Jean Case of AOL, and Jeff Zucker of NBC Universal.


About Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington

Celebrating 125 years of continuous service to children, teens and families, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) is one of the largest affiliates of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).  BGCGW serves over 21,000 youth annually at 21 sites throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, including Camp Brown, a 168-acre residential summer camp. Through a variety of educational, sports and recreation, health, arts, and character development programs, BGCGW creates a positive environment where children are encouraged to develop their ambitions and turn them into GREAT FUTURES. BGCGW helps boys and girls of all backgrounds, especially those who need us most, build confidence, develop character, and acquire skills that prepare them for school and for life as productive, civic-minded, and responsible adults. For more information, please call 202-540-2300 or visit our website at www.bgcgw.org.


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Track Palin ties the knot

Move over, Bristol. The siblings Palin have a new media magnet in Track Palin, the eldest of them all, who wed his high school sweetheart, Britta Hanson, over the weekend.

The Hansons and Palins released this statement:

“These are two hard working, humble, active, studious young adults who grew up together. We’re tickled that after two decades of friendship we proudly witnessed their marriage, knowing their new life together will be blessed.”

The pair tied the knot in a casual blue jeans ceremony, and will be celebrating later this summer in a more formal gathering at Alyeska Ski Resort.