His wife couldn't be there herself to accept her honor. So Mark Kelly, husband of recovering congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, spoke on her behalf. But, he made clear, his wife was still running the show.
"We went over my remarks very carefully," Kelly said at Glamour's Women of the Year awards on Monday. "She's still in charge."
Giffords was one of 11 women honored at the Carnegie Hall ceremony, the 21st time the awards have been presented. As always, the assembled group was a formidable mix of brains, guts, entrepreneurship, and yes, glamour.
On that last count, Jennifer Lopez was there, dressed to the nines in a high-slit Versace gown _ her award presented by designer friend Donatella Versace, in fact. She talked about the year's "ups, and not-so-ups," the latter a reference to her split with husband Marc Anthony.
"It's the women in my life that helped me," she said, tearfully. "The most important thing they taught me is to support other women."
An emotional high point came from an unexpected place, with the appearance of a woman named simply "T," who was forced into prostitution as a child and now is an activist trying to stamp out sexual slavery in this country.
"I am just one of many," said "T," or Withelma "T" Ortiz-Macy. She advised the young girls in the audience to "Think about your personal influence."
The tone for the evening _ solidarity among women _ was set by Glamour's editor-in-chief, Cindi Leive. "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women," she said, to applause. "We didn't let any of them in tonight."
Each honoree was presented with her award by someone of equal or often greater fame: Late-night host Chelsea Handler was given her award by friend Jennifer Aniston, who misted up as she praised Handler, even while noting that "Half her life, she is drunk."
Handler was as direct as she is on TV.
"You really can do what you want. Just get out there and do it," she said _ expletive removed here.
The world of fashion had a strong presence, naturally.
Tory Burch, a go-to designer for upscale professional women, was introduced by actress Jessica Alba. Burch declared proudly that 80 percent of her employees were women. "Women are our best investment," she said.
And designer Marc Jacobs wasn't getting an award _ wrong chromosome _ but he presented one to artist Cindy Sherman, known for conceptual photographs of herself, one of which recently sold for $3.9 million _ a record for a photo.
"I'll just let my work speak for itself," Sherman said, concisely.
Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post has become a media force, received her award from Barbara Walters. She cheekily urged women to "sleep their way to the top" _ by enriching their sleep-deprived lives with some more shuteye.
She also regaled the crowd with the story of a failed relationship that set her career on an upward path. "Everything good that happened to me happened because a man wouldn't marry me," she said.
The lifetime achievement winner was Gloria Steinem, whose award was presented by Anita Hill, 20 years after the Clarence Thomas hearings.
"There's no one on earth I'd be more honored to get an award from than Anita Hill," said Steinem, 77, who credited Hill with "changing the consciousness of our country."
"I can't wait to see what you all do," Steinem called up to the balcony, filled by girls from youth groups from across the city. She told them to remember that "Life is one big surprise. You can prepare, but you can't plan."
Also honored: Lea Michele of "Glee," who recalled how just a few years back, she'd been struggling, and hearing "No" a lot. She told the young girls to forget that word _ and to "Use your voice, in positive ways."
Esraa Abdel Fattah of Egypt was given the Women of the Year fund award, for her key role in mobilizing Egyptians on Facebook during that country's Arab Spring revolt. "I will see a woman as leader of my country one day," she declared.
And speaking of international relations, former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice was there, to present an award to the wife of her former boss, Laura Bush, and the Bush daughters, Jenna and Barbara.
Making a cameo in a video was former President George W. Bush. "The truth of the matter is that Laura Bush was the greatest first lady ever," he said with a grin.