Victoria’s Secrets: Connecting with great people

Frank D’Agostino (2nd from l.) was pitching a new Broadway show “Ice Champions” to Doug Evans, Janet Levy, Robert Caravaggi and Simone Levinson

As I sat outside the imposing Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, awaiting the opening of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts (DSOA) Foundation Gala, I had time to reflect on a busy week of “putting to bed” — the expression we use to finalize a newspaper — the Palm Beach edition of Dan’s Papers, the February monthly issue of the Long Island Press and our weekly editions of Dan’s Papers and publications in Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn

It’s an enormous juggling act of organization by our sales, editorial, design and technical teams. And added to that was our joyous and successful inaugural Brooklyn Power List event. People often ask me, “How do you do it?” I tell them very quickly and enthusiastically that it’s because of the great team all around me.

While in Palm Beach, I had the joy of attending the gala and performance of the DSOA. It’s a public high school that brings together budding singers, musicians and dancers, many of whom have gone on to become enormously successful. The school reminded me of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. It’s a nurturing setting for talented young people who are being trained by the best art education professionals. 

That night, the students delighted the sold out crowd at their fundraising dinner!

Being honored was James Patterson, one of their board members is also my favorite author. I was delighted to see him there at the gala cocktail party. As he was leaving, I stopped him and told him that I had been “spending my nights with him” reading his book, “James Patterson by James Patterson: The Stories of My Life.”

He paused and looked at me with a quizzical, but smiling expression before agreeing to take a photo with me!

My favorite writer James Patterson
Jean Shafiroff, Paulo Yoshida, Frank Agostino and David Hochberg

Later in the week, Senior Vice President and Private Client Advisor Michael Becker of Bank of America invited me to a breakfast they sponsored for “Impact,” a group that is devoted to helping business women network and educate each other on topics that are informative and helpful to their careers.

I was delighted to meet Fabiola Brumley, president of Bank of America in Palm Beach County. She is an extraordinary role model, proving that women can break the glass ceiling to become CEO of a major world bank. 

Bank of America’s Denise Enrich, Michael Becker and Fabiola Brumley
Fabiola Brumley, Melissa Gordon Glenn, Woodward Middleton Jr. and Lauren Sterlacci

One of their team members, Melissa Gordon Glenn, gave an enlightening lecture about cyber security. As I sat at my table listening, I was texting our IT guru Eric Hercules with questions concerning our company’s security systems to prevent fraud. It’s remarkable how vulnerable we all are to having our personal lives and businesses violated. 

The speaker dramatically told the transfixed Impact members that it’s our responsibility to educate our children about cyber security. She gave an example explaining that her son noticed she had brought breakfast for his teacher, and had left the receipt with her contact information on the bag. She had trained him well enough that he reported to her that he tore it off after seeing it, protecting her.

Later in the week, the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WPAC) came to Palm Beach to gather their donors together for an evening of music and networking.

Julienne Penza-Boone, the organization’s executive director, has transformed her beautiful theater space into a must-go destination in the summer. Like me, she knows her donors are here and so she brought them together for a special evening.

I was so happy to see my friends Marjorie and Jimmy Kuhn, Alicia Grande and my neighbor Madhu Powar Garg.

Later in the week, I hosted old friend Charlotte Tomic, who used to be at St. John’s University in Queens and now has her own PR firm and sells real estate through Berkshire Hathaway in Miami. She seemed happier than ever.

Every day is a new one filled with great adventures. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Call for congressional action 

My heart goes out to RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The pain in Memphis is ours, too.

My heart went out to the mother of Tyre Nichols, who was fatally beaten and murdered by police officers as he screamed out for his mother. 

A mother should never have to bury her child.

Video of the beating emerged one day after the officers were charged with murder in Nichols’ death. The footage shows police savagely beating Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker, for three minutes. The Nichols family legal team has likened the assault to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

It’s an unimaginable pain that Nichols’ mother is feeling. It didn’t have to be.

But how do these things happen? I think it all begins in the home. I come back to the home environment and think it is of the utmost importance to teach children to respect people and that there is no place in our lives for violence.

The tragedy made me think of the song “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” written decades ago by Rodgers & Hammerstein for “South Pacific.” 

“You’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You’ve got to be taught

From year to year,

It’s got to be drummed

In your dear little ear”

Thankfully, Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis shared how she listened to Nichols’ relatives, community leaders and uninvolved officers in making a prompt decision to dissolve the SCORPION unit in which the officers behind Nichols’ savage beating were assigned.

It’s time to make a statement that behavior like this will not and cannot be tolerated. 

This murder never should have happened. Questions about the motivation of the officers involved and their training will be asked for a very long time.

Let us make sure that Nichols’ death stands for something. Federal police accountability legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which never passed after negotiations over it collapsed in an evenly divided Senate in 2021, is more important now than ever. We must call on our elected officials to implement this legislation.

Until then, may Nichols’ mother and family have the courage to keep on going and to know that a nation mourns with them.