Sometimes an executive’s contribution can quickly turn into a legacy.
That was the case Thursday at the Beyond Beauty dinner in Manhattan as honoree Jill Scalamandre was accepting an award for spearheading a program — the Hope and Grace Initiative by Coty’s Philosophy brand — that raises money to ease the stigma of mental illness. Scalamandre’s contribution became her legacy when she noted, “as of last week I left Philosophy.”
After the speech, she did not disclose why she left or where she is going. Similarly, Coty has made no disclosure on who will succeed Scalamandre as chief marketing officer of skin care at Coty Inc. and senior vice president of its Philosophy division.
In addition to chairing the industry organization Cosmetic Executive Women Inc., Scalamandre has held management and marketing posts at Chrysallis Inc., Avon Products Inc., Prada Beauty and Revlon Inc., where she began her career in the Eighties.
It was not a routine night, but the subject material was in synch, since the Beyond Beauty dinner is devoted to raising funds for medical research into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Philosophy donates 1 percent of U.S. proceeds to community based mental health organizations. So far, 25 grants have been approved and $2 million given out in the program’s first two years. She saluted the doctors working on these programs and thanked the audience as advocates and donors. “You are making a difference,” she said while summing up, “Where there is hope, there is grace, and where there is hope and grace together, we can erase the stigma of mental illness.
Her cohonoree was Connie Anne Phillips, publisher and chief revenue officer of Glamour and Self magazines. The program also included two young people, who have developed various neurological disorders and learned to live with them. Cecelia Scheeler was diagnosed with OCD when she was four years old and spent her young life trying to mask odd behaviors like continually spinning the wheel of a gym lock, as if she couldn’t remember the combination. Finally, she decided to frankly talk about her condition and it sometimes had the effect of opening doors. Likewise, Kyle MacNevin lives with generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD and manic-depressive disorder. Like Scheeler, he was articulate, polished and poised in describing the journey the life has sent him on and the mission he has undertaken.
The annual dinner is staged to raise funding for the James E. Marshall OCD Foundation, which is named after the son of Linda Marshall, president of Elysee Scientific Cosmetics in Madison, Wis. The organization was founded in 2003, after Marshall, who was afflicted by OCD, succumbed to the effects of the disease on March 28, 2002.
“We are the first organization to fund genetic OCD research,” said Linda Marshall.
The evening raised $200,000, bringing the total; since 2003 $3.25 million.
“Because of you, we have made my son’s last words a reality,” she told the crowd. “His last words were, ‘Mom, I want to make a difference.’”