NEW YORK — Vera Wang and Hearst Magazines editorial director Ellen Levine were among those honored at Legal Momentum’s 29th annual Equal Opportunity Awards Dinner, held Wednesday evening at the Grand Hyatt.
Legal Momentum works to advocate for and advance the rights of women and girls of all ages. More than $700,000 was raised by the end of the evening.
Wang, who received the first-ever Etta Froio Equal Opportunity Award, mentioned former Vogue editor in chief Grace Mirabella and Polly Mellen as making a difference early in her career. “And I pledge to continue to work on behalf of other women,” she vowed.
Susan Sokol, president of Vera Wang Apparel, introduced her boss by recalling how she grew up attending the Paris couture shows with her mother and became the youngest-ever fashion editor at Vogue at age 23. She also praised the influence Wang has had over her young daughters, including Cecilia, who already has had a byline in the pages of Cosmogirl. As Cecilia wrote: “To my mother’s delight, the Vera Wang style is growing on me, but I’ve learned that what makes her so successful isn’t just her fashion sense — it’s actually the hard work and dedication she puts into every part of her business.”
Meanwhile Levine, wearing Vera Wang, talked about the male-dominated work environment she witnessed firsthand as a young woman. She recalled the realities of receiving far less money than men and not being taken as seriously for many reasons, including the chance that she could become pregnant.
In the process of rewriting the rules of the workplace, she also became the first female to become editor in chief of Good Housekeeping since it was founded in 1885. Levine also has been active politically as a member of the U.S. Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography and, more recently, lobbying on behalf of reporters at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Editors from Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping and Redbook, including Joanna Coles, Rosemary Ellis and Stacy Morrison, attended in support of Levine, as well as senior vice president and publisher Valerie Salembier from Harper’s Bazaar.
Time Inc.’s Stephanie George, who has served on Legal Momentum’s board for the past six years, was the fashion chair for the event. “We’re encouraging women to help other women,” she said. “It’s very empowering and rewarding to see the stories of women overcoming so much.”
This story first appeared in the November 15, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In addition to Levine and Wang, also honored were Jay Gellert, president and chief executive officer of Health Net, and John LaMattina, president of Pfizer Global Research and Development.