Victoria’s Secrets: fun and work in Puerto Rico

Firefighter Presidents with Josh and I and José Bayona from the Mayor’s office (r.) presenting Ingrid Lewis-Martin with Eric Adams’ Humanitarian Award for work with migrants

Somos is an annual conference in sunny Puerto Rico that many electeds, lobbyists, union leaders and community leaders gather for networking and camaraderie after the November elections.

It was my third year attending, but this year, to my delight, my son Josh joined me at the El San Juan Hotel, where I stayed with his father on my honeymoon decades ago. Much of the evening action for the conference took place at the huge circular bar and contiguous casino.

But the biggest daytime gatherings were at the Caribe Hilton. There, we were delighted to host a luncheon sponsored by the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association and the FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Association and their leaders Andrew Ansbro and Jim Brosi.

We were also proud to be honoring New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins with well-deserved Humanitarian Awards.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins with her Humanitarian Award

I cherished the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. To my delight, many of the attendees were past honorees at one of our “honoring” events!

Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright and masterful PR guru Todd Shapiro guided Josh and I.

Sadly, while celebrating Jewish and Hispanic unity with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, UJA  and the Chabad of Puerto Rico, the event was interrupted by angry pro-Palestinian protesters who put “blood” on their faces and hands. They were removed, but the frightening experience left many of the attendees fearful for their safety.

What has happened in our world where people can agree to disagree, but in a peaceful manner?

While Josh was at the Met Council Oneg Shabbat, I was attending the elegant reception at the official residence and offices of Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi welcoming our Governor Kathy Hochul.

I was delighted to see the powerful and brilliant CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in the garden. He shared with me that he had been the former cabinet secretary for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and pointed to the windows where he had his office!

With CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez

The gardens were filled with carefully vetted attendees who were happy to see the two governors — and each other!

At another venue, a few hundred people gathered to celebrate Brooklyn. Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Governor Hochul and Ingrid Lewis-Martin led the enormous group in loud cheers of “Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Brooklyn!”

Gov. Hochul, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and Ingrid Lewis-Martin cheering for Brooklyn!

Hochul spoke about the importance of electing Democrats in 2024 following their strong showing in the 2023 general elections!

From that high-energy gathering, I ventured out of San Juan to attend a party hosted by the brilliant Cathleen Trigg-Jones (the founder of iWomanTV) and her husband, plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Jones, and activist Patricia Silverstein, who has made it her mission after her sister nearly died from diabetes to further research and find a cure.

Hostess Cathleen Trigg-Jones & her husband, Dr. Michael Jones

The afternoon at Cathleen’s home in a gated golf community overlooking the ocean offered a chance to meet and mingle with more great people.

State Sen. Leroy Comrie and Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, who invited me to the party, shared the bill they recently passed.

State Sen. Leroy Comrie and Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright

Lucky for me, the rain and clouds passed and, on my last day, I swam in 86-degree weather. A perfect ending to a perfect trip to Puerto Rico!

See more photos from Somos below.

With Onida Coward Mayers and Kim Williams
Ingrid with Judge Robin Sheares
Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright with Cuny’s Glenda Grace
David and Ronnie Weprin
Michael Garner, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at the MTA