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INTERVIEW: Gretta Monahan, Maria Baum, And CD Greene On City of Hope's Spirit Of Life® Award, Their Latest Endeavors, And More

Nicole Barylski

Gretta Monahan, Founder and CEO of Gretta Enterprises. (Photo: Courtesy of Gretta Monahan)

The East End Chapter/Jeanne Kaye League of New York City will celebrate a trio of extraordinary individuals during this year's City of Hope's Spirit of Life® Award on Monday, May 10, which will take place virtually. The 2021 honorees include Gretta Monahan, Founder and CEO of Gretta Enterprises; Maria Baum, Philanthropist, CEO/Founder of Splash Mixers, and partner in Argento in Southampton, Dopo La Spiaggia in Sag Harbor and Dopo La Spiaggia in East Hampton; and CD Greene, CEO and Creative Director of CD Greene Inc.

"For nearly 30 years, the East End Chapter/Jeanne Kaye League has had the pleasure of presenting City of Hope's Spirit of Life Award to New York's top philanthropic leaders. We are proud to continue that tradition this year with our exciting virtual event that supports City of Hope and helps fund their vitally important research," said East End Chapter/Jeanne Kaye League Co-President Lisa Kaye Fuld.

Jill Martin, Today Show lifestyle contributor, QVC creative director of G.I.L.I. and New York Knicks broadcaster, will host the soiree. The evening will feature an exclusive fashion show featuring the CD Green 2021 Evening Collection, as well as special performances by Kelli O'Hara and Steve Tyrell, along with appearances from Whoopi Goldberg, Rosanna Scotto, Katie Couric, and more.

We caught up with Monahan, Baum, and Greene about being honored, City of Hope, their latest endeavors, the Hamptons, and much more.

Gretta Monahan:

Tell us what it means to you to be honored with The Spirit of Life Award.

GM: I was so overwhelmed when I was told by Lisa Fuld and Amy Rosenblum. Truly it is so humbling to be honored by such an incredible place like City of Hope and by people accomplishing so much as my co honorees, who are such outstanding philanthropists, along with a community of devoted researchers that I have endless admiration for. 

Why is City of Hope a cause you champion?

GM: Because they are the best in class, leading game changing, life saving and extending research in the top diseases claiming the precious lives of those we love. I am equally enthralled with the commitment to caring for patients holistically by prioritizing the emotional well-being equally with the physical - ironically this level of humanizing chronic care is in most cases not the norm of top notch medical centers.   

Through Gretta Enterprises, you offer personalized and service-oriented head-to-toe fashion beauty and wellness solutions with both a new online destination gretta.co and locations across the east coast - including Gretta Beauty & Spa Back Bay Boston and Gretta Luxe Boutique in Wellesley, MA and your flagship G-Spa Resort CT @ Foxwoods. What are some of your top fashion and beauty tips? 

GM: I feel cultivating personal style unlocks ones super powers. In my work, I want women to realize their full potential of their natural beauty and harnesses their confidence. This will magnify their spirit and create an ultimate comfort and memorable impression. Fashion is a medium that we use to amplify and differentiate our own personal brand. It's an amazing tool to make us stand out in the crowd.

One of my timeless tips is to be uncompromising about fit and quality of fabrics and construction, and to enjoy trends in measured doses seasonally to build an investment worthy wardrobe and image. Beauty is all about enhancing our best features and allowing our glow to show through, so I say find your experts through word of mouth. Always prioritize skincare and upgrade your cosmetics and skincare to newer innovations and cleaner formulas. 

Why was it important for you to make the world of fashion and beauty more accessible?

GM: I do not believe that anyone should be excluded from feeling their best ever... 

What trends can we expect to see this spring and summer?

GM: The biggest trend is "The Social Season." People have sweatsuit fatigue... it's time to dress up again, wear real shoes, and any gathering will be considered an event. Dressing is amplified. While gatherings are smaller than pre COVID, style is more important than ever - as we are standing out more in small crowds.  

When in the Hamptons, what are some of your favorite spots?

GM: Out east it's all about family, food, friends, and celebrating free time together. We live in Sag Harbor, so we are surrounded by water and we love it! Taking a sunset sail with Captain Toby on Starlight, another family fave is paddle boarding at Clam Island, Wölffer's Wine Stand on Friday nights, Saturday browsing the village - we are sure to stop in at Black Swan Antiques to see what's new and go estate sale hopping. With our kids, we enjoy weekends and picnics at Gibson Beach, and they are obsessed with Sag Pizza and BuddhaBerry. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

GM: The pandemic has caused a very serious and concerning pause in medical care, patient monitoring and life saving research. This deeply concerns me, as we are seeing more advanced disease diagnosis in younger aged patients. It's estimated that as we slowly evolve out of the pandemic, it has forced so many people to cancel or delay mammograms, and many routine but critical condition screenings. We must fight harder than ever to catch up on funding research so to not let cancer, diabetes, heart disease get ahead of us. 

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Maria Baum. (Photo: Courtesy of Maria Baum)

Maria Baum:

Tell us what it means to you to be honored with The Spirit of Life Award.

MB: This is an incredibly meaningful award that happens to come at an incredibly meaningful time, as it is the 10 year anniversary of my first operation after learning that I had cancer. I can remember trying to act like I knew that everything would be okay... telling my family and friends not to worry when I wasn't so sure myself. Since then, I have tried to devote a lot of my own efforts to supporting real heroes I've met on this journey - the doctors and scientists who make it possible for me and many others to live long, healthy lives after a diagnosis. To be recognized for my own efforts is humbling and quite honestly, overwhelming.

Why is City of Hope a cause you champion?

MB: I support City of Hope because I support research. I support the efforts of the brilliant minds who make the discoveries, run the clinical trials and get life changing drugs and therapies to people who need them. I hope that we don't stop until we can tell every newly diagnosed person that there is not only hope, but a real cure. If you know someone who relies on cancer drugs like Herceptin, Erbitux, Rituxan or Avastin, then you have already crossed paths with technology pioneered by City of Hope. They also are the ones who discovered synthetic insulin, now the standard of care for millions of diabetics around the world. City of Hope is a national organization with top ratings from Charity Navigator and is dedicated to developing, testing and delivering cutting edge therapies to people with cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses.

Philanthropy has always been important to you and your efforts throughout the years are quite impressive. What motivates and inspires you to work so tirelessly for the philanthropic causes you support like City of Hope?

MB: There is no better feeling, no greater way to realize that your time on this planet truly matters than to do a little heavy lifting in order to help others in some way. In the case of fighting life-threatening diseases, though we all aren't scientists, we can all find things we are good at, ways to deploy our own resources in order to directly support efforts of those who are tackling the biggest problems humanity faces. In this profound way, every person, even at a local level, may find a way to truly contribute to causes that have global impact.

You serve as CEO of Splash Premium Mixers, a natural beverage brand.  What's the key to an exceptional libation?

MB: Ease and less guilt! We have exceptional bartenders at our restaurants, but I only served wine when entertaining at home. Splash is a pantry item that is healthier, lower in calories and sugar yet doesn't taste that way. I designed the bottle to look great right on top of a bar or table so we are ready for guests anytime. The key is less stress and more time to enjoy friends.

You're based in Sag Harbor. What's the best part about living on the East End?

MB: I have a friend who once said to me about his home in Hawaii, "If this isn't where God lives, he definitely has an office here." Well, that is how I feel about the East End! The natural beauty truly takes my breath away on a daily basis and is such a blatant, constant reminder of how small yet how connected we are in the universe. I make my kids look around and realize how blessed we are to be here every single day.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

MB: I just can't wait to enjoy a fun summer in the Hamptons, finally together again with family and friends. How lucky are we?

CD Greene, CEO and Creative Director of CD Greene Inc. (Photo: Courtesy of CD Greene)

CD Greene:

Tell us what it means to you to be honored with The Spirit of Life Award.

CDG: I feel especially honored by this Award. The wonderful work City of Hope does helps so many people around the world! And I'm in such great company! The other two recipients are amazing. The Spirit of Life is something we share, in difficult times we all need the human touch!

Why is City of Hope a cause you champion?

CDG: City of Hope is a cause I champion because I lost a very special loved one. My big sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was the most horrible thing that could have ever happened to my family. With the work that City of Hope does, maybe in the near future, there will be a cure! A better treatment! Hope!

Tell us about a few of your favorite designs.

CDG: My favorite designs is a tough question! Whenever I start a new collection, it begins with an idea that I can't wait to execute. It's the process I love most of all. From choosing a fabric, coming up with a new treatment or embellishment. Draping the pattern has a sculptural element to it. And then watching it come to life as it is sewn together, it comes to life. Then the finished garment, truly a labor of love. However, one of my favorite moments was the mirror dress I designed for Tina Turner. I had been a fan and admirer of hers. So when the opportunity came, I was over the moon. To see her dance and enjoy wearing the dress was truly a magical moment.

That dress was also displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a part of the Met Gala "Rock Style Exhibit." I had seen so many famous designers' work displayed at the Met, and to have my work there was one of my most fabulous moments ever!

Another one was Tracee Ellis Ross hosing the AMAs. I did a custom gold mirror gown for her. She actually opened the show in my gold mirror gown. How amazing was that! I just kept rewinding that section of video and rewinding it!

How does studying painting, sculpture and graphic art at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago play into your designs?

CDG: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago was an incredible environment to begin the process of expanding my creativity. With painting, sculpture, and graphic art as a background. It was the perfect way to begin the process of designing clothes. It's all about color, proportion, detail, texture. And then relating it to a woman's needs and lifestyle! The Art Institute being a Museum is a very, very unique place for creative minds! It's one of the best Museums in the world. What better place for inspiration?

Creating evening wear is especially gratifying. There are moments in a woman's life and those special moments are often marked by a special event. She will always remember that event and what she wore, how beautiful she felt in a CD Greene.

What are you working on at the moment?

CDG: At the moment, I just recently launched CDGNY, a collection of cocktail and evening wear. It's available in more doors and at a more accessible price point. I am also working on a menswear collection as well, very excited about that!

The Virtual Presentation will commence at 5:00 p.m.

For more information, visit www.cityofhope.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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