Maria Cornejo


Designers Maria Cornejo, Ulla Johnson, Rachel Comey and Jill Platner are joining with Padma Lakshmi and Cindy Sherman to cohost a cocktail party on May 22 in support of International Rescue Committee’s efforts for Syria; the concept was spearheaded by Cornejo, Platner, and Donna Lennard, owner of Il Buco Alimentari where the party will take place.

“It is a great way for us to draw attention to this cause,” Cornejo says. “As an immigrant and refugee, I know how important it is to have help and support. Donna had a great idea to bring all the women-owned businesses in NoHo together to support women who are the root and nurturers in the family.”

The dinner will come together at the hands of the United Tastes of America Syria Supper Club, a catering company composed of newly resettled Syrian families, who will partner with Il Buco Alimentari chef Garrison Price.

“Jill, Maria and I have been friends for years and have established a wonderfully, old-fashioned ‘barter’ relationship — we have been aching to have a spring event together, something about and for women since we are close friends and local entrepreneurs,” says Lennard, owner and restaurateur at Il Buco. “A few weeks ago, I was invited to a screening of ‘Cries From Syria,’ a documentary about the Syrian crisis, that rocked my world. All the information and concern I’d had for the topic — donating clothing to refugees through another friend’s involvement with a refugee group in Newark, my usual engagement with global issues — couldn’t prepare me for that experience. I felt compelled to do something more.”

Other cohosts include Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and Ippolita Rostagno. All proceeds from the dinner will benefit the IRC, and the hope is for the discussion to be the first of several points of activism within the industry.

We need to welcome Syrian refugees, and all refugees into our community- and we hope to inspire other communities throughout the US to do the same- by engaging locally and globally with the refugee crisis,” Platner says. 

“It is our hope that this will be only the beginning of our activism for this cause,” Lennard says. “We are discussing a weekly lunch series in our loft around the topic, inviting the supper club to continue to join us in preparing food for groups of clients interested in participating and donating proceeds from these lunches to the cause. The three of us are also involved with a number of organizations to facilitate hiring of refugees in each of our companies. This should be a jumping off point to further involvement in this cause as well as others.”

Donna Lennard

Donna Lennard 

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