FTER President George W. Bush appointed her chair of the advisory board of the American Red Cross in 2004, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter fought to end the stubborn boycott of the international organization against Israel. "This is not going to happen on my watch," she resolved.
Some tried to end the bias and failed. Others told her it canít be done. But then she recalled growing up in Louisiana where she often heard her motherís pearls: "Failure is a comma, not a period" and "Canít is a word that doesnít exist."
Last year McElveen-Hunter finally succeeded when both Magen David Adom and the Palestine Red Crescent Society were invited to join the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
"Fifty-eight years of discrimination is over," she declared at the 2007 New York Red Cross Ball in New York. "Perhaps this can open some potential channels to peace."
The chairman of Magen David Adom, Dr. Noam Yifrach, flew in from Israel to assist Wilma "Billie" Tisch in presenting a humanitarian award to McElveen-Hunter as 550 guests gave her a standing ovation.
"Bonnie has been a tireless and successful leader of the American Red Cross," said Billie, the widow of Laurence Tisch, who was chairman of Loews Corp. and president of CBS.
William Gray, co-ceo of Ogilvy North America and chairman of the American Red Cross in Greater New York, presented a lifetime achievement award to the late Eleanor "Elly" and John "Jock" Elliott. Jock was chairman of Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency.
The award was accepted by Jockís brother, Osborn Elliott, former editor-in-chief of Newsweek and dean emeritus of Columbia Universityís Graduate School of Journalism.
Jock said on a video regarding Ellie: "Itís good to have a partner who lets you have the last word Ė and feeds you the lines."