BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Introducing the guest speaker for the annual Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center Spring Luncheon, Chair Gillian Stoettner told the audience at the Ritz-Carlton “Ali Wentworth is everywhere.”
Following a delightful dose of her comedic candor, Wentworth, who hosts the lifestyle podcast Go Ask Ali, was off to the airport to sub for Kelly Ripa on Live! A day later, she was captured by the New York Times at a luncheon for the Central Park Conservancy, sunny in a broad-brimmed yellow hat covered with daisies.
But before setting off to the East Coast, Wentworth gave her Chicago audience of 400 guests her full attention, with hilarious results. Often the stories related to her husband, political commentator George Stephanopoulos, and her mother, Muffie Cabot, Nancy Reagan’s social secretary and a close friend of Jackie Kennedy: “ ‘Just go to the Four Seasons—get a room at the Four Seasons,’ is her answer to every crisis,” Wentworth laughed.
Before lunch, guests queued up to try on rare multicolored gemstones brought by lead sponsor Hindman, part of the Important Jewelry sale presented by the auction house.
From Dr. Madeline Albright to Cindy McCain to Nora Ephron, The Woman’s Board has introduced timely subjects to sold-out audiences for 27 years. “After two years of not being together in person, it just seemed right to get together and have fun. We’ve chosen a guest speaker whose charm just resonates and whose comedy is contagious,” Stoettner said about this year’s distinguished selection for speaker.
Wentworth, a former star of In Living Color, is also a three-time New York Times bestselling author of The WASP Cookbook, Ali in Wonderland, Happily Ali After, and Go Ask Ali. She also finds time to act, direct and be a mother to two daughters (“one really easy, one really sassy”). During her talk she shared her family’s chocolate fudge cake addiction during COVID, her close friendship with Jerry Seinfeld, affection for Lanz nightgowns, and being there when Jennifer Lopez auditioned to be a Fly Girl on In Living Color.
Woman’s Board President Cindy Mancillas introduced Dr. Omar Lateef, whose hospital duties will expand July 1 to be president and CEO of RUSH while continuing to serve as CEO of Rush University Medical Center. In keeping with the humor of the day Dr. Lateef observed: “This is even nicer than my wedding” (followed by an apology to his wife). His humor endeared him even more to the audience.
Proceeds from the Spring Luncheon will support The Woman’s Board Fund for Excellence in Cellular Therapy, which will allow medical specialists to re-engineer a person’s own cancer-fighting cells to attack tumors more effectively, and has transformed how lymphoma, leukemia, and other hematologic malignancies are treated at Rush. Rush will become one of the nation’s first clinical trial sites for tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, or TIL, therapies for lung cancer and melanoma. The culmination of years of research and development, TIL therapies represent the best hope to cure patients whose cancer is resistant to current treatments. The Woman’s Board Fund for Excellence in Cellular Therapy will enable Rush to introduce these exciting but complex immunotherapy treatments into patient care.
Woman’s Board members serving on the luncheon committee were Debra Beck, Marianne Berger Stevie Boggess, Dina Brown, Andrea Burridge, Kate Fitzgerald, Katie Frekko, Colby Gaines, Melissa Hennessy, Brooke Kuehnle, Mary Anne Martin, Kate Mursau, Kate Peterson, Stephanie Poole-Byrd, and Kerri Schoonyoung.
The next Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center to anticipate will be Illuminate, the Fall Benefit at the Theater on the Lake, taking place September 16. Erin Ritchie and Sonja Smith will serve as co-chairs. Funds raised from this event will support The Woman’s Board Fund for Excellence in Cellular Therapy, as well as the Medical Center’s education, research, and community service programs.
For more information, visit thewomansboard.org or call 312-942-6513.