The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear friends,

Please mark Monday,  October 3, 2022, in your calendars!

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, will be in New York City to take part in the ESU Gala that evening. The Gala will be held both in person at the Cosmopolitan Club of New York and virtually on Zoom, so that all of you can participate, even when travel to New York is not practical.

This moment has been long in coming – the last visit by a member of the Royal Family was in 1989 when Prince Philip was the guest of honor at an ESU gala at the Plaza. And this will be the first time the ESU has had the privilege of hosting The Princess Royal.

To those of you who have already bought tickets – big thank you for staying with us! And to those of you who have not registered yet, please do so soon. There are a limited number of tables and individual tickets available. You can also sign up to attend the event virtually. I look forward to seeing many of you on October 3.

Now that I have made the big announcement, I will get back to initial purpose of this letter – the account of my extraordinary month of June at the ESU.

It started on a high note with the national celebration of The Queen's Platinum Jubilee and 96th birthday on June 3, 2022.

The virtual event brought us together to mark this historic milestone and salute Her Majesty for all the years of service she has given to the people of the United Kingdom and the entire world. Members of the ESU New Orleans Branch joined me and Michael at our country residence in Pass Christian, Mississippi, to take part in the festivities in person.

I commend the ESU staff for creating an uplifting and joyful program that befitted the occasion.

Among the highlights was the unveiling of the painting "Morning Light " by renowned artist Lorraine Villere, who donated it to the ESU on the occasion of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Ms. Villere, who joined our gathering in Mississippi, shared the significance of her exquisite painting of bluebells, Britain's most iconic flower. The painting is prominently displayed on the main floor the ESU House. Please, stop by the ESU when you are in New York – you'll be proud to see this and other beautiful pieces of art at our headquarters.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper and artist Mrs. Lorraine Villere talk about the inspiration for her painting "Morning Light" (in the background).

High-school student Taylor White read her poem "A love Song from the Sky" that won the first Modern Troubadour Competition, part of the new ESU National Shakespeare Writing Program. The program seeks to engage students who express their love of Shakespeare through creative and analytical writing.

Taylor White, New York Branch, student of Leslie Kohn at Scholars' Academy won the ESU 2022 Modern Troubadour Competition with her free-form poem "A Love Song from the Sky" based on Shakespeare's sonnets 3, 18, 105 and 116.

We also participated in the Queen's Green Canopy – a unique tree planting initiative to mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee by "Planting a Tree for the Jubilee." Both ESU New York and our party in Mississippi proudly showed off our trees.

The ESU national staff planting an Eastern Redbud as part of the Queen's Green Canopy.

I encourage you to plant a tree this year. By putting a seed in the ground, we improve our environment and our lives. And what better reason to do it than in honor of Her Majesty!

The event ended with my performance of Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite. Duke Ellington composed the album of six pieces in honor of Queen Elizabeth after meeting her in 1958. I invite you to listen to it – it is a beautiful and very intimate expression of the Duke's admiration for the young Queen. The recording is a tribute to Her Majesty for her extraordinary reign.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper performs Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite accompanied by Steven Ray Artists Jazz Band.

That was only the start of a whirlwind month of travel – to Louisville, KY; Greenwich, CT; Boston, MA; and New York City to participate in Branch Platinum Jubilee festivities and other events.

My first stop was in Louisville, KY, to attend the ESU Kentucky Branch's Mad Hatter's Tea Party on June 5, 2022. The Branch President, Ms. Kate Nitzken, Branch Board and members welcomed me warmly to their wonderful celebration that blended tradition and generous hospitality and showcased the Branch's charitable programs. It was graciously hosted by ESU member and philanthropist Mr. Lowry Rush Watkins, Jr. at Oxmoor Woods Farm, a landmark estate just outside Louisville and home to five generations of the Bullitt family, of which Mr. Watkins is a descendent.

We delighted in the voices of Sacred Heart Madrigal Singers. We enjoyed the performance of the ESU Kentucky Branch Shakespeare Competition Winner and national Third Place Winner, Kathuure Miriti. And we cheered the six scholars selected to receive scholarships to universities and programs in the U.K.

The ESU Kentucky Branch 2022 scholarship winners: (from left) Rayleigh Deaton, Elizabeth Ewing, Elayne Harrington, Katie Blackerby Weible, and Rebecca Hibbard. Photo by Sarah Herron Photography

The ESU Kentucky Branch is noted for its scholarship program for teachers and college students. I was amazed to learn that since 1960, ESU Kentucky has awarded over 528 scholarships. They have been made possible by generous contributions from local philanthropists and Branch members. These funds are managed judiciously to provide support for the scholarships in perpetuity.

There was also a touching moment when we honored former Branch President O. Grant Bruton, Esq. with the inaugural ESU Kentucky Branch Scholar Champion Award. Mr. Bruton had a special bond with the ESU. He was the first ESU Secondary School Exchange scholar from the ESU Kentucky Branch. After that formative experience, he graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School and went on to have a long and influential career as a lawyer. Mr. Bruton passed away less than a month after our event, on July 7, 2022. He will be missed.

ESU Kentucky Branch President Kate Nitzken, Events Chair Lynn Smith, Co-Vice President Sylvia Bruton, ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, Mr. Joe Nitzken (seated). Mrs. Bruton receives the inaugural ESU Kentucky Branch Scholar Champion Award on behalf of her husband, O. Grant Bruton, Esq. Photo by Sarah Herron Photography

On June 12, I found myself at the Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, CT. Commanding spectacular views on Long Island Sound, it was the perfect setting for the ESU Greenwich Branch's Queen's Jubilee and 96th Birthday celebration.

I was there at the kind invitation of ESU benefactor and President of the Greenwich Branch Mrs. Natalie Pray, who for years has been the force behind the Branch's active social calendar and charitable programs. Mrs. Pray's annual Queen's birthday parties are legendary for their elegance and refinement. This year's celebration was especially memorable, marking both Her Majesty's 96th birthday and her 70 years on the throne.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper (center) with ESU Greenwich Branch members (from left): Michael Brown, Louisa Greene, Janie Galbreath and Michael Galbreath at the ESU Greenwich Branch's celebration of the Queen's 96th birthday and Platinum Jubilee. Image: The Greenwich Sentinel

Champagne, exquisite tea sandwiches and chocolate desserts lifted everyone's spirits. Then, we enjoyed the performance of ESU Greenwich Shakespeare Competition contestant Machiavelli Merkle-Ward of one of Shakespeare's most famous soliloquies – Macbeth's "Is this a dagger which I see before me…"

ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, who also attended the party, noted that "the educational programs have always been at the heart of the ESU. And our Greenwich Branch exemplifies the best of the best under the leadership of President Natalie Pray, and the amazing work of the Board and program coordinators." It was rewarding to learn later that the Greenwich Sentinel reported on the event with a full-page story complete with photos.

ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich (right) presents ESU Greenwich National Shakespeare Competition contestant Machiavelli Merkle-Ward (left) with a gift, a teddy bear named Will, after William Shakespeare. ESU Greenwich president Natalie Pray (center) is holding a flower bouquet for Machiavelli. ESU Greenwich Branch's celebration of the Queen's 96th birthday and Platinum Jubilee. Image: The Greenwich Sentinel

The following weekend, June 19, I flew to Boston for the ESU Boston Branch's Platinum Jubilee Luncheon Buffet and Champagne Reception. There, too, I was joined by Ms. Karpowich and cordially received by Branch President Mr. Paul Boghosian and his members.

Held at the historic Lyman Estate in Waltham, MA, the celebration was the culmination of the Branch's busy spring schedule. The ESU Boston Branch managed to host a number of live events this spring when so many other organizations failed to do so. Big thanks go to Mr. Boghosian and the Branch Board, who guided ESU Boston in overcoming the pandemic's impact.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass and ESU Boston Branch President Paul Boghosian. Photo by Robert Pushkar

On the program was a toast to the Queen by the UK's Consul-General in Boston, we listened to an engaging lecture on Queen Elizabeth's place among history's greatest monarchs, and we delighted in the performance of the Boston Branch's 2022 Shakespeare Competition Winner, Marlie Kass.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass and ESU Boston Branch President Paul Boghosian. Photo by Robert Pushkar

ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass. Photo by Robert Pushkar.

My peripatetic month of June ended in New York. There was, of course, the scheduled meeting of the National Board. But what I was truly excited about – and I know the other Board members share my sentiment – were the events at our Headquarters that made the trip to New York all the more worthwhile.

On June 23, ESU members, teachers and students joined us in person and online to celebrate our volunteers: the dedicated, big-hearted people who enrich our programs and help advance the ESU mission. The event spotlighted one of the ESU's most impactful programs, English in Action, which pairs volunteer native English speakers with English language learners for weekly conversations.

ESU Immigrant Programs Director, Rona Weitz speaking at the "Celebrating Volunteerism" Event.

And, on the following day, at an intimate reception in the Garden Lounge of the ESU House, we raised a toast to H.E. Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill CBE, for his new title of Chairman Emeritus awarded by the ESU Board of Directors in recognition of his six remarkable years as Chairman.

H.E. Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill accepts his new title of ESU Chairman Emeritus.

Dear friends, now you know why I call it my extraordinary month of June at the ESU. I met old friends and made new ones, visited amazing places full of history and beauty, and witnessed first-hand the impact of our Branches' amazing work. I thank Ms. Kate Nitzken, Mrs. Natalie Pray, Mr. Paul Boghosian, Ms. Karen Karpowich and the ESU staff, and all ESU members in Kentucky, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York for making me feel so welcome.

And I was reminded, again and again, of the true spirit of the English-Speaking Union – the spirit of fellowship, generosity and dedication to the English language's rich cultural heritage that brings us together. I hope you will continue to be a part of it.

Please renew your membership, and, if you are not a member yet, join the English-Speaking Union. Register for the October 3 Gala in the presence of the Princess Royal – a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to receive Her Royal Highness' accolades for your hard work and dedication. And sign up for the 2022 Annual General Conference in Charleston, S.C. to enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow members and chart the future of our organization.

I will write my next letter to you in September because August should be a time for all of us to rest and recharge. Until then, I wish you a healthy and enjoyable summer.

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

Return to News & Events