BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
“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.” —Gillian Stoettner, Luncheon Chair, The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center.
Like daffodils and tulips, the Rush Woman’s Board luncheon is something we anticipate every spring. And comedian, TV star, bestselling author, and podcast host Ali Wentworth will certainly bring out the sun May 9th at the Ritz Carleton for the organization’s 27th Annual Luncheon.
Since the luncheon’s beginnings, the Woman’s Board has brought forth vibrant voices with powerful messages to sold-out audiences every spring. From the first luncheon, featuring fashion editor Grace Mirabella, to speakers throughout the years including Cindy McCain, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Laura Bush, Sherry Lansing, Nora Ephron, and other enlivening legends, the Rush Spring Luncheon bursts forth each year as the event to inspire.
When Dr. Madeline Albright died in March, so many Chicagoans remembered her Rush luncheon presentation and how she described choosing just the right brooch for diplomatic occasions from her large collection: a lion for when she wanted to take charge and a missile-shaped pin for negotiations with the Russians.
Currently hosting the comedy lifestyle podcast Go Ask Ali, Wentworth will offer memorable merriment based on her comedy credentials. “Ali is everywhere,” Stoettner says.
A star with Jamie Foxx and Jim Carrey on three seasons of In Living Color, Wentworth appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno more than 100 times, and more recently with Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Kimmel. She was an on-air regular on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and appeared on Seinfeld, Jerry Maguire, Office Space, Trial and Error, and the Nancy Meyers’ film It’s Complicated, in which she played Meryl Streep’s best friend. She was the creator, star and executive-producer of the critically acclaimed Starz series Head Case and her career in the entertainment industry has also included offscreen roles such as TV series creator, executive producer, and writer.
Ali is also a three-time New York Times bestselling author of The WASP Cookbook, Ali in Wonderland, Happily Ali After, and Go Ask Ali. And she somehow has found time to begin penning another book, that is sure to join her previous projects on numerous must-read lists.
“She expresses herself with such honesty,” says Stoettner. “She is very relatable: working career woman which a great take on life.” Of Wentworth’s upcoming speech, Stoettner advises us to expect challenges from the actress’s real life, along with true, candid advice on how she handles them.
Wentworth, who lives in New York with her husband, political commentator George Stephanopoulos, and their two daughters, is no stranger to public speaking—or to the public eye. Her mother is Muffie Cabot, a close friend of Jackie Kennedy’s and Nancy Reagan’s social secretary.
Just as Wentworth feels like the perfect outspoken, admirable, and irreverent guest speaker for the event, Stoettner is the perfect choice to head the day. Her family has been involved at Rush for six generations, almost since its founding in 1837: “A member of our Hamill branch was on the founding Board of Managers in 1880. Since 1880, there have been 43 family members involved at the hospital and someone told us that totaled 1000 years of service if you added it all up,” she explains.
Stoettner, who lives in Barrington, has been on the Woman’s Board for 21 years and has served in various capacities. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of Lynchburg in Virginia where she graduated in 1991.
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 are 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.
Until we can gather together next month, enjoy some photos from the last in-person spring luncheon, 2019:
For more information, visit thewomansboard.org or contact The Woman’s Board office at (312) 942-6513.