November 2019 Newsletter


Good Day,

I hope everyone had a happy and healthy November. As we gear up for the busy Holiday season, please take a moment to check out some of the exciting updates from our members and some important updates on our upcoming Grove Retreat in January.

Registration for the 20th Anniversary Annual Retreat in Puerto Rico is still open and we have a few rooms left! If you have not booked your room yet, make sure you make your reservations ASAP. Details on how to book your room are below. We have over 200 people who have already booked their rooms so it looks to be a fun and fascinating Retreat in January!

December 15 is the last day to submit your updated Face Book bio. Please update your bio ASAP! As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, please make sure your bios are up to date (and take a moment to ensure your photos aren’t also 20 years old, we all want to be able to recognize you at the Retreat!). We use the Face Book to select speakers for Retreats, to connect after Retreats, and to stay in touch, so please take the time to update your bio this year.

There are still a few members who have not yet paid 2020 Membership Dues. Please remember, you are not permitted to attend any retreats (even if you have signed up for them) unless you have paid your dues. You will also be excluded from the Face Book if you have not paid your dues. If you think you still need to pay your dues, get in touch with Leslie right away!

If you have any updates you would like to share for future newsletters, please email me or Leslie Dube ( And don’t forget to share some of your favorite bumper sticker ideas here and we’ll feature in the upcoming Grove updates. I hope to see you all in Puerto Rico! Best wishes for the Holiday Season.



Welcome New Members!
Please help give a warm Belizean Grove welcome to these amazing New Members! Click on the names to read more about each new member.

Lisa Ahmad
Alta Baker
Sara Darehshori
Gloria Wallace Greene
Marlene Malek
Michele Mitchell
Kathleen Shanahan

Victoria Foster
Heather Larrison


Our 20th anniversary retreat will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico in January 23-27, 2020!
Registration is OPEN! Click here to register Retreat fee: $1,850.00

We have a terrific retreat planned in Puerto Rico for our 20th Anniversary Celebration and have many exciting events already planned. This not-to-be-missed Anniversary event will include morning programming, featuring several panels with members of the Grove and a few special guests from Puerto Rico; afternoons open to spend exploring Puerto Rico, volunteering, at the beach at La Concha, or relaxing at one of the multiple pools between the two resorts; and evenings spent celebrating our sisterhood.

Morning Panels and Afternoon Sessions
The programming committee is finalizing panels and getting invitations out. We will be kicking off this fabulous event with a Keynote address from our own Edie Weiner on what’s ahead on our horizon. We already have also confirmed a very special guest from the United States who everyone loves, who will participate in a “Conversation With”. Numerous important decisions have been made and many new issues have been brought before the court since we last heard from her, so this is a conversation you will not want to miss. Helen Fisher will once join us to talk about the neuroscience of team building, innovation and leadership. Helen would also like to hold an afternoon session, depending on her demands back in the US due to pre-scheduled interviews, on how to get along with others—at work and at home using brain science. Mari Carmen has secured the honorable Maite Oronoz Rodríguez, the Chief Justice of Puerto Rico Supreme Court to speak about the situation in Puerto Rico and the issues that have recently come in front of the Supreme Court, including who would be Governor of Puerto Rico. In addition to the judge, Mari Carmen has also secured Natalie Jarekso to speak. Since 2017, Natalie has served as the executive director of the Financial Oversight Board of Puerto Rico, where she has been charged with helping to manage Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy process. We will feature several panels with our own members, talking about issues that are important to you! We will kick off our Grove panels with a “Go Deep Fast Panel” on life transitions and what you would have done differently. There will be a Conversation with Marion Blakey, and have requests out to Evelyn Dilsaver, and Suzanna Darcy to speak on airline travel and safety, and what to expect with future of travel. We will also feature a panel on women in the business of sports; a panel on everyone’s favorite topic—FOOD; a panel on cool ideas changing our world; New World Disorders and Disruptors; and a panel on the Future of Our Cities.

Evening Events
Opening Cocktail Reception and Dinner Thursday, January 23
The 20th anniversary celebration will kick off with a cocktail party and dinner at the Condado Vanderbilt. Reconnect with old friends and meet new members as we reflect on the past 20 years of the Grove. We are looking for photos to feature in a slide show, if you have any you would like to share, get in touch with Leslie ( as soon as possible.

Dine Around Puerto Rico! Friday, January 24
Mari Carmen Aponte has worked to secure a total buyout for a portion of Friday evening of three separate exclusive restaurants owned by the world-renowned Chef Mario Pagán. One of Puerto Rico’s top chefs, Chef Pagán became a celebrity when he participated in Food Network’s Iron Chef and became the USA culinary ambassador in Milan. Pagán has been featured in many publications such as Food and Wine, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Esquire Magazine, and Travel and Leisure. In 2014, Pagán was also a guest chef at the James Beard House. He is known for his dedication to introducing Puerto Rican-Caribbean influenced cuisine to the rest of the world. He has also agreed to personally welcome us at each of his restaurants: Sage Steak Loft at Olive Boutique Hotel; Raya, a Caribbean Asian restaurant located at O:LV Hotel, and Mario Pagán, his namesake restaurant characterized for its ambiance and fusion of native ingredients. The evening will begin with a cocktail party and our annual Live Auction at La Concha. We will keep the auction short and fun (remember the excitement of our auction in Chile!), we will have a DJ, cocktails, as well as opportunities to bid and donate! Afterward we will walk the short block to the three separate exclusive restaurants.

20th Anniversary Bash Saturday, January 25
Start planning on getting the old bands and singing groups back together! Saturday night’s 20th Anniversary Celebration will feature both new and old acts from our own members. Have an interest in performing? Get in touch with Leslie as soon as possible to secure your spot! Space is limited! Don’t have your own band? Don’t worry! We are working to secure a local Puerto Rican band who is known for its eclectic style! From authentic Puerto Rican music, to pop hits, there will be a variety of songs to dance to! Be sure to wear your dancing shoes, because this band knows how to party! What’s the dress code, you ask? It’s a Grove party, so costumes are welcome and encouraged! The dinner will be held at the ballroom in the Condado Vanderbilt, so you won’t have to worry about walking through the streets of San Juan dressed as a Pink Flamingo—unless you want to!

Farewell Dinner Sunday, January 26
Take one last night to connect with friends and reminisce on your Grove experience. We will have a relaxing dinner at the beach at La Concha (weather permitting).

Volunteer Opportunities
We received numerous requests from our members for more volunteer opportunities while we are in Puerto Rico and we have listened! We will be sending out more information on how to sign up for these opportunities in the weeks to come, below is a brief outline of some of these opportunities:

Thursday, January 23
Plan on arriving early Thursday morning or coming in on Wednesday night to participate in two separate volunteer opportunities:

Speed Networking Event with Grupo Guayacan Join us from 11:00-3:00 PM at La Concha for an event that has never been done before in Puerto Rico: Speed Networking! Meet with female entrepreneurs currently involved in Guayacan’s entrepreneurial programs. Members have the opportunity to offer expertise to budding businesswomen from Puerto Rico to help them learn best practices in leadership, networking, and how to get out of the trenches to cultivate relationships to build resources.
Grupo Guayacán, Inc. (GGI) has developed a unique model that couples private equity investment with a series of programs aimed at developing, strengthening, and advancing Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through their programs, the organization has built an entrepreneurial ecosystem that develops global entrepreneurs and global ventures to be an engine of economic and social value creation in Puerto Rico. Their mission is to foster, promote and develop a vibrant market for private equity in Puerto Rico together with a rapidly growing community of global entrepreneurs and global ventures.

Estuary Restoration with Estuario The only tropical estuary within the National Estuary Program (NEP), the San Juan Bay has been recognized as nationally important by the EPA since 1992. Connecting eight municipalities in the most populated urban area of Puerto Rico, the estuary is home to hundreds of thousands of people as well as 500 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish. With shifts in land use from agricultural to urban development, about 70% of the San Juan Bay Estuary Watershed is paved, and forest cover is highly fragmented. The remaining crucial habitats—dunes, mangrove forests, and moist coastal forests—are not only important to the survival of animal and fish species but also provide the first line of defense against tropical storms. The San Juan Bay Estuary Program (Estuario) has created adaptation plans that included strategies like infrastructure maintenance, public education, and green infrastructure implementation to help restore this area. Join new Tara Brenda Torres, Estuario’s Executive Director, on Thursday morning, and help restore the Condado lagoon. Estuario will lead volunteers from the Grove around the lagoon where we will be planting plants vital to the ecosystem of the lagoon. Afterward, we are working with a local tour company to make it possible to rent standup paddle boards and kayaks to tour around the area! More details to come!

Friday, January 24 We are currently putting together an afternoon of volunteer service with a local school in Puerto Rico. We will leave on Friday afternoon after the morning sessions and be back in time to get changed for cocktails, the auction, and dinner!

Sunday, January 26 Join Brenda Torres again Sunday afternoon after the morning panels and take a trip to the farm where the plants are grown for the estuary restoration project! Volunteers will learn more about the ecosystem of Puerto Rico and the importance of the estuary project. Volunteers will also have the opportunity for a special lunch.

The room block for Puerto Rico is now open! Rooms are filling up fast! We only have 10 queen/queen rooms available at La Concha and 15 King rooms available at the Vanderbilt! We are once again working with Deb Carr, with Cleveland Circle Travel-American Express, to book rooms at the hotel. Deb is also able to book flights for members. BG is not taking room reservations. To book your room, contact Deb Carr (, with the below information: 1.Name as it appears on driver’s license or passports 2.Date of Birth 3. City of origin / Preferred Carrier or Flights (if booking flights) We are offering a 10% discount on American Airlines flights through July 31st 4. Arrival Date and Return Date 5. Resort requested – Condado Vanderbilt or La Concha 6. Room type desired 7. Roommate if applicable – please provide arrival date and departure date of your roommate 8. Cell phone number 9. Credit card for hotel guarantee – you may call this in to Deb 10. Billing Address We were able to secure two hotels this year to ensure we have a plethora of rooming options to choose from. Both of these hotels were featured in the Forbes article The 6 Best Hotels in Puerto Rio. Rooms are available at the luxurious Condado Vanderbilt, where the majority of our morning sessions will also be held. The Condado Vanderbilt is majestically perched above the Atlantic Ocean and is a premier oceanfront hotel in Puerto Rico. It features deluxe amenities, including a private beach club and pools, where you can book exclusive cabanas and chaise lounges, with a personal Pool and Beach Butler, a spa and fitness center, access to the Casino del Mar at La Concha, and access to world-class golf just 30 minutes away. Condado Vanderbilt Room Rates: Heritage Queen/Queen – $329/night Heritage King – $319/night Tower City View King – $329/night Tower Ocean View King – $339/night Tower Ocean View Queen/Queen – $349/night All rooms will have also have the additional fees: + 11% Tax, 18% Resort Fee, $5 baggage fee, $2/day attendant fee. We also have rooms available at the trendy La Concha, located directly across the park from the Vanderbilt. La Concha features pristine beaches and pools, fitness center, spa, Casino del Mar, and Fifty Eight—one of the largest bars in Puerto Rico, where you can experience vibrant performances, dancing, and music! Guests are also able to access world-class golf just 30 minutes away at the Bahia Beach Resort. La Concha Room Rates: $269/night + 11% Tax, 18% Resort Fee, $4 baggage fee, $2/day attendant fee We expect this to be our biggest retreat ever! So book soon to ensure you have a spot at this exciting retreat! We cannot guarantee that we will be able to get more rooms, so once they are gone, they are gone! Deb Carr’s contact information: 781-449-6864

Bring your Grove photos! Do you have photos or mementos from past retreats and get-togethers? Please bring copies of them with you to the retreat, or send them to Leslie ahead of time!
20th Anniversary T-Shirt Suggestions We’re thrilled to celebrate our 20th anniversary in Puerto Rico and we would love to have shirts to commemorate our 20 years of friendship. If you have any fun slogan or design suggestions, please fill out this form. Some slogan examples: -Boss Babe -Me talking to myself: “Good point!” -Sometimes I wrestle with my demons. Sometimes we snuggle.


Save the Date!

Fall 2020 Mini Retreat: San Antonio, TX (September 24 & 25)
Winter 2021 Annual Retreat: Argentina (late January or early February)


What the Grovers and Taras Have been Up to Lately…

-Amy Kaslow’s exhibit Life After War: Disturbed, a thirty-year retrospective on displacement and mental health, kicked off the launch of a $2.5 million Mellon Foundation-supported Vassar-led coalition on forced displacement, including top global health interventionists (WHO, NGOS, e.g.), leading edge researchers and practitioners in the field.

Columbia University published the exhibition online. It’s resource-rich, with lots of hyperlinks for those interested in examining more.  For full-frame images and easy-to-read text, replete with the same hyperlinks, you may find the exhibition on

-We are pleased to let you know that:

(1)  the City of Laguna Beach selected one of Veronica Gray’s photographs (click here to view) for inclusion in its 2019 Juried Fine Art Exhibition at City Hall.  This annual event is open to artists throughout Orange County, and on exhibit from September 25 – November 26.  There is an artist’s reception on Thursday, November 7 from 6:00 to 7:00 at Laguna Beach City Hall.

(2) the City of Beverly Hills selected Veronica to exhibit her work at its semi-annual juried art exhibit which took place the weekend of October 19 -20 (click here to view photo)


It’s time for us to put together the 2020 Face Book!

To view your 2019 profile, click here.

If you are a new member or if you need to update your bio, please fill out this template and email it to

As a celebration of our 20th Anniversary, we are asking everyone to update their bios and include a note at the bottom about “What the Grove has meant to me”. Please add a one or two sentence quote about either a Grove memory or what the Grove has meant to you.

Please note that your membership directory bio on the Belizean Grove website is not the same as your face book bio, updating one does not update the other. We are not able to update your online directory.


Donate Items for the 2020 AFM Auction!

The Grove’s Annual Retreat will be upon us soon! Do you have something you want to put up for auction? Identify what you want to donate, then complete this quick and easy online submission form here (submit photos and all).
Please remember, we are looking for donations of things that an everyday person doesn’t have access to, creating a once in a lifetime experience. These could be backstage passes for a private meet-and-greet, tickets to an awards after-party, behind the scenes tour of a Broadway production, a day of cooking with a popular chef, brewery/winery tours, etc. Of course your house/vacation home by itself or in conjunction with any of the above items, as well as jewelry, gift cards and sporting event tickets are always a huge hit.
Please submit your donations by DECEMBER 15TH!


Available on: HBO
Director: Nicole Kassell, Steph Green, Andrij Parekh, Stephen Williams
Synopsis: Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own. The series focuses on events surrounding racial tensions in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2019. The white supremacist group the Seventh Kavalry has turned on the police over racial justice; to the extent the police now conceal their identities with masks. Angela Abar, a detective known as Sister Night, investigates the murder of her friend and superior Judd Crawford and comes to discover many more secrets regarding the situations around vigilantism
Starring: Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson
Genre: Superhero drama TV series (even for those of you who might not normally go for this sort of thing, trust us and give it a try)
IMDB link:

In Theaters
Queen & Slim
Available in theaters – check your local listings
Director: Melina Matsoukas
Starring:  Chloë Sevigny, Daniel Kaluuya, Indya Moore
Synopsis: A couple’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over.
Genre: Drama
IMDB link:


Haven’t updated your profile on the website yet? Not sure what to do?

Watch this short video for step-by-step instructions. (NOTE:  To make the video larger – click the small “4 arrows” icon at the bottom right of the video – to the right of the HD.)


Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”