Friends of IHES: Women in Fundamental Research Gala


Friends of IHES is a nonprofit organization that supports the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, an advanced science and research institute outside of Paris, France. Every other year, Friends of IHES organizes a gala to gather and honor their biggest supporters in the New York area and to celebrate a particular field of math or science. This year again, Friends of IHES asked Faircom New York to help plan and manage this major event, which is even more challenging than usual amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  


Faircom New York helped organize the gala from beginning to end, which enabled Friends of IHES to focus on what matters most: cultivating their relationships with supporters.

The event took place at the Lotte New York Palace on November 16, 2021. For the first time ever, the gala was hybrid, with an online component for those who could not attend in-person due to COVID-19. The hour-long virtual event featured exclusive video content and a livestream from the gala room floor.

An exciting theme, “Women in fundamental research”, was chosen for this year’s gala.  Throughout the evening, Friends of IHES honored women scientists at Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques as well as leading women in the fields of technology, finance, and science.

Gioia De Cari, activist for women’s equality and former mathematician, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

Marilyn Simons, co-founder of the Simons Foundation was the evening’s guest of honor. Marilyn, who was stepping up as co-chair of the Friends of IHES board alongside her husband Jim, was recognized for her extraordinary efforts in the fields of math and science. 

Janna Levin, the Claire Tow Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University, gave the keynote address, bringing guests on a journey through the universe in a discussion about black holes. 

The evening began with a cocktail reception, during which the French Ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne, presented Marilyn Simons with the French Legion of Honor in recognition of her contributions and achievements. During the gala dinner, Friends of IHES also recognized outgoing president Mike Douglas and incoming co-presidents Jim and Marilyn Simons. 

Guests were invited to participate in a lively auction with impressive items, including a framed print by photographer Jessica Wynne, a tour of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship and an exclusive experience from the House of Schiaparelli.  

During the evening guests enjoyed a three-course meal selected by Executive Chef, Cedric Tovar.  


The event was a remarkable success. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Friends of IHES was able to strengthen its relationships with supporters, both in-person and online, raise enough funds to make it one of the most successful galas to date and establish new relationships with corporate sponsors

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