2012 Gala

Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney

Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney – the honorees at The Municipal Art Society of New York’s 2012 Gala.

Hundreds of civic minded and philanthropic New Yorkers gathered on April 19, 2012 as MAS presented the 2012 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal to Joan Ganz Cooney and Peter G. Peterson. Held at The New York Public Library, the event honored the couple for the role they have played in making New York a global capital of finance and education, as well as their many contributions to our city’s cultural life.

Mrs. Cooney, co-founder of Sesame Workshop, is the originator of the beloved television program Sesame Street—a whimsical, yet hugely impactful, reflection of the New York City experience: an urban environment where a diverse array of people (and Muppets!) could interact and learn together. Her philanthropic work in the arts, education, healthcare and other sectors is extensive.

Mr. Peterson has had a significant impact on our city by contributing his leadership and considerable resources to institutions that define New York as a global city, including the Council on Foreign Relations, The Museum of Modern Art, The Japan Society and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. He has been a visionary and advocate for securing America’s future and devotes much of his time to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation–which he founded and is the chairman of–tackling critical issues challenging the nation. Among his many roles over the years, he is the co-founder and chairman emeritus of The Blackstone Group, was the CEO of Lehman Brothers and chaired the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The highest honor awarded by MAS, the Medal was named for Mrs. Onassis in 1994 to commemorate her tireless efforts to preserve and protect New York’s great architecture. The Medal is presented annually to those who have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life in New York City.

The annual Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal gala is the Municipal Art Society’s central fundraising effort. The financial support garnered from the evening helps sustain MAS and advances our work as a voice for the future of our city.

President Bill Clinton was the 2012 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal honorary chair, and the honorary co-chairs were Caroline Kennedy and Dr. Henry A. Kissinger. Dinner co-chairs included Jane and Michael Hoffman, and Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols. Speaking at the event were MAS Chair Eugenie Birch, MAS President Vin Cipolla, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Diane Sawyer and MAS Board Member Michael Hoffman presented the medals to Mrs. Cooney and Mr. Peterson, respectively. The evening also featured a beautiful tribute to the couple directed by filmmaker Joel Schumacher, who was joined on stage by Diane Sawyer, Leslie Stahl and Liz Smith, as well as Elmo, Abby Cadaby and Cookie Monster, who together serenaded Peterson and Cooney with “As Time Goes By.”

The gala was followed by the second annual MAS After Dark after party, hosted by the MAS Urbanists. Featuring special guest DJs Timo & Alan of Timo Weiland, a SPiN New York hosted table tennis tournament and appearances by Project Runway designers, MAS After Dark brought out more than 400 young New Yorkers to get to know MAS.

“More than 800 New Yorkers took part in a last night’s wonderful tribute to Pete and Joan, their remarkable accomplishments and their admired standing as two of New York’s visionary civic leaders.” said MAS President Vin Cipolla.

Photos from the Gala