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No. 115 / 2017

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Mark Shriver
Mark Shriver

Joanna Coles, Liz Rodbell and Meredith Vieira
Joanna Coles, Liz Rodbell and Meredith Vieira

Joanna Coles, Liz Rodbell, Meredith Vieira and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger
Joanna Coles, Liz Rodbell, Meredith Vieira and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger
Accomplished Career Women Honored For
Devotion To Family

HY ME? The four accomplished ladies who received an Outstanding Mother Award in May at the Pierre Hotel in New York appeared overwhelmed. As emcee Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN Home Shopping Network, presented awards to Meredith Vieira, Liz Rodbell, Joanna Coles and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, each wondered if they really deserved such an honor from the National Mother’s Day Committee.

Meredith Vieira, host and producer of the NBCUniversal syndicated daytime program, The Meredith Vieira Show, understood why she was being recognized. Every day on the street, she said, someone toots and shouts "Hey, you mother!"

She said her priorities have always been her husband and her three kids. In fact, when she was offered a job at 60 Minutes, she brought her little Ben with her to the interview with producer Don Hewitt. Ben, now 23, is a reporter in Spokane, Oregon.

Vieira has been married to CBS News journalist Richard M. Cohen since 1986. She said, "I fell in love with a man who was legally blind, so he thought I was good looking. But he can sense big breasts a mile away."

With two teenage daughters at home, Liz Rodbell affirmed that "being a mother is the most important job in the world" even though she’s president of Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor, dividing her time between dual headquarters in New York and Toronto.

Joanna Coles, who is editor in chief of Cosmopolitan and editorial director of Hearst Magazines, said she’s been called a mother before "but it’s usually followed by a different phrase."

Coles arrived here from the UK in 1997 as The Guardian’s New York bureau chief, followed by a stint as New York columnist for The Times of London. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, author and PEN American president Peter Godwin. She said they have two sons, "an heir and a spare," Thomas and Hugo.

When she was nominated for the award, her 13-year-old Hugo wanted to know what the criterion was and why nobody had asked him.

A similar scenario unfolded at the home of Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger. Born to a Turkish father and English mother, Dee grew up in Rhode Island and started her career as a Ford model in Paris. She married Tommy Hilfiger in 2008, combining her two children with his four, from their previous marriages. A year later the Ocleppo-Hilfiger brood welcomed a seventh child.

In 2012 she became the designer and creative director of Dee Ocleppo luxury handbags. When she told her husband, Tommy Hilfiger, and their children that she was nominated for an Outstanding Mother Award, her eldest son Alex scoffed, "No way, Mom!"

Ocleppo assured the emcee, Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN Home Shopping Network, that her award will be prominently displayed "so I can remind my children on a daily basis who they are with. And also to be able to say ‘Way!’"

Being a mother is the ultimate award, Ocleppo said. "I represent approximately 27 hours of grueling labor, 1350 hours of lost sleep, 15 emergency room visits, 2030 diaper changes, 4120 meals prepared, 55 vomit cleanings, more driving hours than a NY taxi and Uber combined, and finally the ultimate sacrifice—9 trips to Disney!"

Proceeds from the luncheon are earmarked for Save the Children Foundation’s U.S. programs which provide resources for children to break the cycle of poverty. Mark Shriver is senior vice president for strategic initiatives for the charity.


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