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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guess Who Came to Dinner?

Dinner with CNN's Ali Velshi
a stellar night for Joanne King Herring
By Shelby Hodge

Long before Julia Roberts portrayed her in Charlie Wilson's War, Joanne King Herring was widely recognized as a successful volunteer diplomat and extraordinary hostess. With the dinner party that she put on Saturday night for CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, she proved that her prowess as hostess with the mostess continues in full force.

Velshi and his bride flew in just for dinner, held in the River Oaks home of Herring's friend Susan Krohn. Herring had appeared on Velshi's Your $$$$$ program a few months ago and the two, despite differing political views, hit it off. She promised Velshi a table of fascinating dinner guests that would provide fodder for his two-hour show. Herring jumped in at the start, tackling illegal immigration just as the vichyssoise was served by uniformed waiters wearing white gloves.

By the time the sea bass entree was served, M.D. Anderson president Dr. John Mendelsohn had introduced cancer research to the conversation. Anne Mendelsohn, active with Teach for America, turned the conversation to public education. And Alan Craft, Open Door Mission board president, talked about the success of the drug and alcohol abuse recovery program.

"You not only are a talented hostess," Velshi said in a toast to Herring, "but you are also talented at putting people together with great ideas for great conversation."

Rounding out the table were JPMorgan Chase honcho Marty Goossen and wife Kathy, and others plus Rebecca Gray Grossman, chair of the Grossman Burn Foundation, a humanitarian-focused non-profit based in California.

If that weren't a rich enough table group, Herring announced the post-dinner arrival of guests from Dubai at 9:30 p.m., an interesting duo with a reported $300 million to invest in the Houston area.

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