THE FOURTH ANNUAL WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR. PRIZE DINNER
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2017
NEW YORK CITY • GOTHAM HALL
CONSERVATIVE LEADERS AND PHILANTHROPISTS GATHER TO HONOR WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR.’S LEGACY
National Review Institute hosts its Fourth Annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner at Gotham Hall in New York City; raises nearly $1.2 million for the Institute’s programs. Recognizes Bruce and Suzie Kovner for Leadership in Supporting Liberty and Tom Wolfe for Leadership in Political Thought and salutes Rich Lowry’s 25 years with National Review.
In its fourth year, the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner has quickly become a marquee gathering and celebration for the conservative movement. Held at Gotham Hall in New York City, the night began with welcome remarks from Master of Ceremonies, James Rosen, who thanked guests for attending and set the celebratory tone for the evening. Father Gerald Murray gave the invocation.
Guests were treated to live harpsichord and violin performances, a salute to the Books, Arts & Manners section of National Review. Buckley, who lived a life rich in artistic, cultural, and literary pursuits, played the harpsichord and described it as “the instrument I love beyond all others.” His personal harpsichord was inscribed with the phrase, “shame on anyone who plays me badly.” WFB also said of his favorite composer, “If Bach is not in Heaven, I am not going.” Later in the evening a violin solo was performed. Both the violinist and harpsichordist are Juilliard students.
Prominent attendees included notable National Review writers such as Jonah Goldberg, Jay Nordlinger, David French, Charles C. W. Cooke, Andrew McCarthy, and Kevin Williamson. Conservative media and think tank organizations joined the celebration—such as AEI Chairman Tully Freidman and Manhattan Institute President Lawrence Mone, The Fund for American Studies’ Roger Ream, former Commentary Editor Norman Podhoretz, and City Journal Editor Brian Anderson.
James Buchwald and Jack Fowler were dinner co-chairs. In total the crowd comprised 375 leaders from the business, political, philanthropic, and academic communities from over 25 states and four countries. This year’s WFB Prize dinner celebrated the Books, Arts & Manners section of National Review. Since its founding, National Review has made coverage of and commentary on the culture an integral part of its mission. Bill Buckley—known to many as a novelist, sportsman, and musician—himself lived a life rich in artistic, cultural, and literary pursuits. He had a deep understanding of their power and the essential role they play in realizing a life well lived. The Books, Arts & Manners section remains a central and vital component of the magazine’s voice and of Bill Buckley’s lasting legacy of influencing the greater culture. Guests received complimentary copies of “…And Culture,” a compilation of Buckley’s writings on culture.
For his entire life, Bill Buckley sought to preserve and buttress the foundations of our free society. To honor his achievement and inspire others, NRI’s Board of Trustees annually award the William F. Buckley Jr. Prizes for Leadership in Supporting Liberty and Leadership in Political Thought. These prestigious awards honor their namesake and those who champion the principles Buckley advanced during his lifetime.
This year, the William F. Buckley Prize Jr. for Leadership in Supporting Liberty was awarded to Bruce and Suzie Kovner, founders of the Kovner Foundation which provides funding for charter schools. In a personal capacity, the Kovners have been committed to financing political candidates, at all levels, who support school choice. Also, the Kovners are deeply committed to the arts. For more than 15 years, Mr. Kovner has been chairman of the Juilliard School. Mrs. Kovner serves on the board of the Carnegie Hall and plays a special role in Ensemble Connect, a collaboration between Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School. Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, introduced and welcomed the Kovners to the stage to accept their award.
Novelist and son of Bill and Patricia Buckley, Christopher Buckley, presented the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership in Political Thought to Tom Wolfe for his literary accomplishments. Mr. Wolf’s books are known by millions of people and he has become one of the most admired writers in America. In the course of his life, he has coined many familiar phrases, including “good ol’ boy.” Mr. Wolfe had a long association and friendship with William F. Buckley Jr. Four times he appeared on Firing Line, Buckley’s conversation-and-debate show.
This year’s Buckley Prize Dinner in New York, where supporters from across the country gathered, is indicative of NRI’s commitment not only to Buckley’s birthplace, but to the entire nation. Our goal is to make real the “National” in National Review. Over the past three years, NRI has grown its programming, bringing National Review’s best talent to various cities outside the Big Apple. NRI plans to continue to expand its core programming, which complements the mission and work of National Review.
Thank You To Our Host Committee
James Buchwald, Ohio • Jack Fowler, Connecticut
BUCKLEY CIRCLE SPONSORS
Robert F. Agostinelli Foundation • Ann and John Buser, Texas • Karen Buchwald Wright and Tom Rastin, Ohio
Anonymous • Laurel and Cliff Asness, Connecticut • Betsy and Dick DeVos, Michigan
Nina Rosenwald, New York • Peter J. Travers, New Jersey
Anonymous • David L. Bahnsen, California • Wendy and Dale Brott, Ohio • Chevron
Michael Conway, California • Ravenel B. Curry III, New York • Pamela and Joseph Donner, New York • Google • Randy Kendrick, Arizona • Debbie and Brian Murdock, Florida Paul Singer, New York • Karen and Richard Spencer, California • Madelene and L. Stanton Towne, New York
Erika and John Ammirati, California • Anonymous • Edward Conard, New York • Sean Fieler, New York • Fox News Channel • Susan Walton Gore, Wyoming • Paul Isaac, New York • Brian and Joelle Kelly Family Foundation, New York • Marlene Mieske and Neal Goldman, New York • RHÔNE • Allen Sidor, California • Julianne and Michael Woronoff, California • Penny and Bob Young, Connecticut
American Legislative Exchange Council • American Philanthropic • Anonymous • Anonymous • Bradley Impact Fund • Stephen and Camilla T. Brauer, Missouri • Allison and Roberts Brokaw, Delaware • Center for Education Reform • Howard L. Chapman and Stephen L. Chapman, Indiana • Charles Koch Institute • Kristen and Charles Correll, California • Hon. Neal B. Freeman, Florida • Richard Gilder, New York • Hon. John Hillen, Virginia • Bette and William Hoskins, Massachusetts • Freyja and Travis Lauritsen, Texas • Peter Thiel, California • White Castle • Young America’s Foundation