We’ve met plenty of driven, multitasking folks in Michael’s dining room over the years — like this week’s man of the hour David Zinczenko, who continues his quest for (media) world domination with his new book (read on). He was front and center at Table One today celebrating the completion of the first of his books to be published as part of his headline-making deal earlier this year with Random House. And, of course, there is no end to the list of type-A power lunchers (fill in the name of your favorite here) whose burning ambition is to see their name in print every time they ink a deal.
Then there’s Ross Ellis, who I met in this very room a while back. Ross started out in public relations and marketing and has toiled for several Fortune 500 firms. For the past eight years, she’s worked as a residential real estate broker for Halstead Property LLC. Since then, she has become a widely recognized expert on the Manhattan marketplace, quoted in the New York Daily News and CBS MarketWatch, among other outlets. While that would be enough for even the most ambitious Gothamite, Ross somehow found the time — and energy — to launch STOMP Out Bullying, an extraordinary non-profit whose mission is to eradicate bullying, the true scourge of the modern age. While Ross has developed many fundraising initiatives to fund the organization’s initiatives, many of them involving celebrities who also believe passionately in the charity’s mission, she also donates a portion of her commissions from her real estate sales to the charity.
Somehow, between finding luxurious lairs for Manhattan’s movers and shakers, Ross, drawing very little attention to herself — instead, insisting the spotlight be focused on her cause — has built STOMP Out Bullying into the nation’s leading national anti-bullying and cyber-bullying organization for kids and teens in the United States. Not too coincidentally, October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, so our talk today was particularly timely. Ross told me STOMP came out of her first not-for-profit, Love Our Children, which she founded in 1999; its mission was to prevent child abuse and all forms of violence and neglect against children. “I knew this was something that deserved a lot more attention than it was getting at that time,” she says. “Bullying was the signature issue at Love Our Children, and I wanted to do more.”
And did she ever. Since founding STOMP, Ross has become the go-to expert on bullying and cyber bullying. She has engaged many national outlets and media partners, including Fox Sports and Access Hollywood, and traveled across the country to speak to community leaders (most recently to my Greenwich neighborhood, where a high schooler tragically committed suicide on the first day of school this year after being the victim of years of bullying) to advise them on how to build awareness and prevention campaigns. She’s also consulted with far-flung locales like Korea where, she tells me, bullying among teens is “a big problem.” She also created Blue Shirt Day World Day of Bullying Prevention, which takes place on the first Monday of October every year, when children are encouraged to wear blue to create awareness and signify the important of stomping out bullying. This year, SJI Associates designed a limited-edition blue shirt that was sold by Bon-Ton Stores and at Bonton.com. “It’s a way to empower children and engage them in the campaign,” says Ross who added that China, Chile and Mexico participated in the campaign this year.
As the parent of an 8-year-old, who has already experienced the “mean girl” phenomenon, I was extremely interested to hear what advice Ross offers adults in dealing with the social epidemic. The biggest problem, she told me, lies in the growing problem with cyber bullying. “Most parents are clueless when it comes to the Internet,” she says. Ross advises parents to have access to their kids’ user names and passwords to social media sites and to do periodic Google searches on their kids. “Parents need to know what is being said about their children online. It’s critical to stopping bullying and catching potentially dangerous situations from escalating.”
Ross is well aware of the power of celebrity and to that end has enlisted the help of plenty of famous faces to raise awareness and funds to further STOMP’s goals. This month, from the 18th until the 31st The Sixth Annual Celebrity Stomp Out Bullying Auction is being hosted online at Heritage Auctions and features a plethora of celebrity experiences, including a day at the office with Nick Cannon, the chance to co-host Lance Bass’ radio show on Sirius, a set visit to Royal Pains, drinks with Andy Cohen (we’re in!) and tickets to a LeAnn Rhimes’ concert as well as a meet and greet with the star. “The support we have received from the entertainment community has been amazing,” says Ross. “So many of them also serve as our global ambassadors as well. I know that they can draw attention to stopping bullying and bring the money we need to keep the programs running. I’m really grateful to them.”
Last month, Ross was recognized as one of Town & Country’s and Longines Women Who Make A Difference at the Fifth Annual Awards and was presented with the prestigious honor (and a pretty swank watch!) by Melissa Joan Hart, one of STOMP’s global ambassadors. She’ll be featured in an upcoming piece on the awards in the magazine’s February 2014 issue. Bravo, Ross. Well deserved.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. David Zinczenko, celebrating the completion of his new book entitled — wait for it — Eat it to Beat it. In attendance: Galvanized Media’s Steve Perrine, Jon Hammond, George Karabatsos (who designed the new book) and Random House team: Marnie Cochran, Richard Callison, Jennifer Tung and Nina Shield. The cleverly titled tome is due out in December.
2. Suzanne DePasse (the ex-Mrs. Berry Gordy)
4. PR scion Steven Rubsenstein
5. Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman
6. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman, whose latest musical, Honeymoon in Vegas opened earlier this month at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey to rave reviews. The show stars one of my favorite 80s sitcom stars Tony Danza (who seems to be having a moment with this production and his scene-stealing role in Don Jon — Don’t miss it!) We’re hearing rumblings about him coming to Broadway. Congrats!
7. Ross Ellis and yours truly
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Tracey Jackson
9. Former New York City Council president Andrew Stein
11. Bob Friedman
12. Accessories maven Mickey Ateyeh
14. The early show: IGM’s Jerry Inzerillo; Act two: Joan Collins (yes, that Joan Collins!) with her husband Percy Gibson and another elegantly attired social swan dripping in fur. (No one seemed to know the mystery gal’s name. Anyone?) Plenty of heads swiveled in Joan’s direction when she arrived in the dining room around 1 pm. The Dynasty-era diva was decked out in an outfit that would have made Alexis Carrington proud. We just loved her snakeskin moto jacket, ivory mini dress and fishnets. Long live the 80s!
15. Charlie Schueler
16. Fashionista Fern Mallis
17. Luke Janklow
18. 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft
19. Us Weekly publisher Victoria Lasdon Rose, who was celebrating the tab’s scoop of the week: the exclusive on Kris Jenner‘s side of the story behind her spilt with Bruce Jenner. “It’s Over!” trumpets this week’s cover of the magazine. We’re shocked, aren’t you? It’s thanks to folks like publicity shy Kris, her Kardashian daughters and their errant boyfriends and hubbys — also known as the gifts that keep on giving – Us Weekly is thriving, says Vicky.” A lot of clients have come back to print,” she tells me. “Both print and the digital space each have a role, but when times get more difficult, our content becomes more valuable. There’s something to be said for something that offers a bit of an escape and a laugh when you need it.” Indeed.
20. Agent Boaty Boatwright
21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher
22. Penske Media’s vice chair Gerry Byrne
24. David Poltrack
26. Cindi Berger
27. Former mayoral candidate John Catsimatides and Eric Anton
28. Producer Beverly Camhe
81. Sharon Bush, who was nice enough to stop by our table to say hello.
Diane Clehane is a contributor to FishbowlNY. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Please send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
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