2019 RBFAA Annual Meeting

RBFAA Annual Meeting
June 14-16, 2019
New York City

Nearly 150 Bosch alumni and guests convened in New York City June 14-16, 2019 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Bosch Fellowship program. The gathering was bittersweet, given the news that the Fellowship program will be ending in 2021, but it also provided an invigorating opportunity for the Robert Bosch Foundation Alumni Association (RBFAA) to reimagine its future impact.

The Annual Meeting officially began with an alumni Q&A with Sandra Breka, member of the Bosch Stiftung Board of Management. The discussion took place at the beautiful 1014 (previously know as the German Academy), a six-story, turn-of-the-century townhome, just across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which used to house the Goethe Institute of New York. She explained much of the Stiftung’s strategic review process, and the Bosch Board of Directors has since made its decision on its new topics in its international portfolio.

On Friday evening, our alumni were pleased to be welcomed to the home of German Consul General David Gill and his wife Sheila. The residence on the Upper East Side was the perfect setting to recognize our Bosch Alumni Service Award recipient, Mary Pflum-Peterson, for her tireless dedication to the RBFAA for many years. Sandra Breka also delivered remarks to those gathered. Alumni in attendance were also lucky enough to enjoy wine from the vineyard of our very own John Schmitz (Bosch I).

Opening Reception 2019, © EWS, 2019

Mary Pflum Peterson accepting the Bosch Alumni Service Award, © EWS, 2019

Afterwards, we walked down the street to the Loews Regency Hotel to finish the evening over drinks, reconnecting with Bosch friends and also meeting many others.

Our Saturday program resumed at 1014. Bosch Stiftung program managers Anda Ruf and Carolin Wattenberg organized an engaging, entertaining and insightful panel with members of Bosch XXXV who just returned from Germany. Liudmila Batista, Allison Binns, Becky Katz and Michael Petersen reminded us all of the joys (and challenges!) of life as a Boschie. They also brought their perspectives on the changes in transatlantic relations throughout their year – Merkel stepping down as head of the CDU, the rise of populism and the European Elections – as well as their honest opinions about the fellowship program coming to an end (a decision communicated to them as current fellows).

Bosch 35 Panel (from left to right: Carolin Wattenberg, Mike Petersen, Becky Katz, Allison Binns, Liudmila Batista, and Anda Ruf), © EWS, 2019

Our Saturday business meeting was expanded into a working lunch and feedback session, allowing alumni the chance to discuss their visions for the future of the RBFAA. At the link you will find the ideas that were generated out of these fruitful discussions. Attached you can also find the Board’s business presentation, which includes updated figures on our fundraising and important insights into the Board’s listening tour. Members of the Board, led by Membership Chair Laura Damerville, spoke with representatives from 28 out of the 34 cohorts since the Stiftung’s decision was announced in December 2018. This gave the opportunity to collect valuable feedback during this important time. Many expressed the desire to continue as an organization and recognized this as an important moment in shaping our future. To that end, if you’d like to contribute on an ad hoc basis, email and let us know how you’d like to help the Board and the Strategic Review Committee in their efforts to reimagine our organization. Everyone is encouraged to contribute in any way you can, and thank you in advance!

Our daytime programing on Saturday ended with a superb panel, organized by Mary Pflum-Peterson, which tackled the weekend’s overall theme: 30 Years Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Envision a U.S.-German Relationship for the 2020s. Gale Mattox (Bosch I), Kathy Mack (Bosch II) and Fred Fucci (Bosch IX) regaled us with stories about being in Germany before, during and directly after the fall of the wall. They were then joined by Torrey Taussig (Bosch XXXV), Phil Bednarczyk (Bosch XXXV) and Steve Sokol (President of the American Council on Germany) to discuss German-American relations in the post-Merkel era.

Fred Fucci (Bosch IX) sharing his thoughts during the panel, © EWS, 2019

The productive day at 1014 was capped off by an unforgettable evening at the National Arts Club, where New Jersey Governor and former US Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy gave the keynote address. The landmarked brownstone on Gramercy Park is a gorgeous old-world private club, though it hosts art galleries and events that are open to the public. It is one of the few private clubs which admitted women as equal members since its inception. The gala evening began with a festive cocktail reception in the parlor. Christian Haenel, Vice President of International Relations, Asia and the Americas at the Bosch Stiftung, kicked things off with a warm welcome and even a few quotes from Bruce Springsteen (in honor of our keynote speaker’s home state of New Jersey). John Schmitz (Bosch I) had the honor of introducing Governor Murphy, whose energy filled the entire room. His remarks brought laughter but also thoughtfulness and a call for everyone in the room to move beyond their immediate circles and talk to people of different cultures and experiences. As is so emblematic of our time as Bosch Fellows, the Governor urged us to bridge the divide by reaching out and beyond that which is comfortable. And finally, it was the great honor of the RBFAA to posthumously bestow the Bosch Alumni of the Year award upon Crister Garrett (Bosch XI). Members of Crister’s cohort — Bruce Meller, John Thompson, Brendan Foley, Mary Arndtsen and Amy Medearis — accepted the award on behalf of Crister and his family. Amy shared a touching note from Crister’s wife Claudia, which read in part: “Even when facing life’s greatest challenges, it was important to him to keep seizing every opportunity to and deepen understanding between the United States and Germany, as he saw that as the best investment in strengthening transatlantic relations in ways that would improve all the global challenges we face, whether in the areas of peace and security, social justice, climate change, or protecting basic human rights.  He always felt his work was never done and inspired those around him to continue their efforts — each in his or her own way— to leave the world a better place.”

Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey giving his keynote address during the Gala, © EWS, 2019

Members of Bosch XI with the Alumnus of the Year award for Crister Garrett, © EWS, 2019

The Annual Meeting wrapped up on Sunday with a Father’s Day brunch on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel at Lincoln Center. The weather graced us with sunshine as we said Aufwiedersehen to many. Some Boschies took advantage of a Boschie boat cruise later that afternoon, while others visited Hudson Yards. Many had also participated in cultural offerings on Friday, with a walking tour of Central Park and a guided tour of the Neue Galerie.

The 2019 Annual Meeting would not have been possible without the generous support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The RBFAA would also like to thank its many contributing alumni, including those who made generous gifts of $250 or above: Monica Slakey, Christine Elder, Zachary Egan, Michael Batlogg, Christopher Kojm, Richard Gildea, Justin Hepworth, Barbara Reeves, Wendy Tao, Laura Damerville, Adam Hunter, Laura Gardner, John Parisi, Philip Bartels, Kathryn Mack, Geoffery Oliver, Jacqueline Renner, Nora Raggio, Wendy Lubetkin and Sheryl Hollifield. The RBFAA would like to thank the members of its planning subcommittee including Colette Mazzucelli and Todd Williamson, with a special thanks to Mary Pflum-Peterson and Maggie Monahan-Bopp for going above and beyond in making the 2019 meeting possible. And finally, thank you to Cultural Vistas for its continued partnership and help in planning this event, including Anna Oberle-Brill, Margaret Clark and a hearty thanks to our alumni coordinator Marissa Gillwald.

You can see the full gallery of our 2019 Annual Meeting photos here!

More in Events & Projects