Grace Hightower is an American philanthropist, entrepreneur, socialite, singer, as well as an actress. She is the founder of Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda which, according to her website, works for the people of Rwanda and helps them get their due reward for the quality of coffee they produce. She has also worked as a smalltime actress for a few years after pursuing various other jobs during the early years of her career. Hightower is engaged with several organizations, many of which work as charitable or welfare groups. She is known as a strong advocate of women empowerment and has been involved with Women's Heart Health Advisory Council which works towards the betterment of women’s health. She is also involved with many social welfare organizations based in New York that are dedicated to various social causes, including working towards the improvement of public schools in New York.
Grace Hightower came from a financially weak family and was forced to take up jobs early in her life. She has worked in various jobs, including as a flight attendant for the Trans World Airlines. She was a mutual fund trader at one point and later took up a position in one of Mr. Chow’s outlets to earn her living.
In the mid-1990s, she got her first chance to work in the show business. She appeared in one episode (‘Zeppo Marks Brothers’) of the American police procedural drama television series ‘NYPD Blue’ in 1994. She later appeared in the action film ‘Brotherhood’ in 1997, and twelve years later, made her next appearance in the drama film ‘Precious’. She made a couple of more onscreen appearances in the next decade but that just summarized her acting career as a whole which never took off.
Grace Hightower, however, used her public image to work towards making the world a better place for the common people as well as for those who have struggled a lot to earn their due rewards, like the people of Rwanda. She founded a charitable organization in Rwanda named ‘Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda’. The organization works for the native Rwandan people who work hard to grow the finest of the coffees in the world. However, even though the coffees help the top restaurants and coffee shops around the world earn a fortune, the real people behind the production don’t get their due rewards. The organization has vowed to make the future of these people better and work really hard to promote their work as well as help them get the right prices for their produce. Hightower has been associated with the ‘Fund for Public Schools, New York’, an organization that has been supporting the public schools in New York since 1982. The organization monitors around 1800 public schools where more than a million students get educated. She represents various organizations which work for women’s welfare as well. She is a spokesperson and a board member of New York Women's Foundation which works towards making women financially independent as well as takes care of their health. She also represents Women's Heart Health Advisory Council, an organization initiated by Ronald Perelman, which is dedicated to create awareness about the critical heart conditions suffered by women.
Hightower is also a member of a non-profit charitable organization named International Women's Coffee Alliance which helps women involved with the coffee industry in various ways, including providing them with the required training for the industry. In addition, she is associated with various other social welfare organizations like the Hudson River Protection that monitors the Hudson River and its ecosystem. She represents a number of health-related non-profitable organizations like the American Cancer Society and Autism Speaks as well.
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Grace Hightower was born in Kilmichael, Mississippi, on April 7, 1955. She came from a financially weak family and started working at a young age to earn her living. She met Robert De Niro while working at an outlet of Mr. Chow. They began dating and on June 17, 1997, they got married. The couple had their first child, son Elliot De Niro, on March 18, 1998, and thirteen years later, in 2011, had their second child, daughter Helen Grace De Niro, through surrogacy.
The couple went through tough times in their marriage in the late 1990s and De Niro even filed for a divorce in 1999, suing his wife for the custody of their son. However, they reconciled and decided to work on the issues which were creating differences between them. Their problems were sorted by 2004 and the divorce case was dropped by Niro.