THE NYWF HOSTS ANNUAL CELEBRATING WOMEN® BREAKFAST
The New York Women’s Foundation (NYWF) hosted its 28th annual Celebrating Women® Breakfast on Thursday, May 14 at 7:30 AM. The annual breakfast is New York City’s premiere women’s empowerment event, bringing together over 2,100 women acting as change agents in their communities, and supporters who help to ensure that over $6 million in grants can be provided to the 80 community-based, women-led, non-profit organizations throughout New York City in 2015. As part of this year’s event, the NYWF announced a new initiative—a Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color in NYC—which will help set the course toward an ambitious yet achievable journey to unlock the full power of girls of color in NYC.
Notable guests included: Celebrating Women Breakfast honorees Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi—Co-founders of #blacklivesmatter; documentary filmmaker and social justice advocate, Catherine Gund; and Roberta Kaplan, the Supreme Court litigator who successfully argued for marriage equality in the U.S. vs. Windsor case. The honorees were all recognized for their social activism and for significant achievements that have influenced the lives of women and girls. Additional notables included: Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters; filmmaker and philanthropist, Abigail Disney, journalist and philanthropist, Soledad O’Brien; actress Ryan Hawke; philanthropist, Agnes Gund; the all-female a cappella group ELEMENT; and more.
Attendees were entertained by the female a cappella powerhouse ELEMENT as they performed Burn and the Supremes’ Keep Me Hanging On while enjoying breakfast. Ana Oliveira (President & CEO, New York Women’s Foundation) spoke (amazing powerful touching) about NYWF’s mission, “ We are a place that believes that problems and solutions are found in the same place and our job is to listen, to see them, to partner, to bring what we can.We are in NYC at a very important moment. As you know we have been brave enough to tackle racism in our elected dialogue and we are also tackling economic inequality. Typically those issues are paralyzing issues and we say you know both we feel guilty or powerless and it is so important to dismantle both and that we look at solutions.” She also opened up speaking about the progress that the New York Women’s Foundation has made. It is imperative that everyone works together or there will be no progress. “You know that saying that when the tide rises the boat rises well if the boat is leaking when the tide rises the boat is going to sink! So if you are going to make progress it has to happen with the understanding that everyone’s boat has to be floating, and that means living wages…respect and opportunity for families…”
The honorees took the stage and gave powerful and encouraging remarks on being honored in regards to their organizations or acts of social change and justice. The co-founders of #blacklivesmatter led the over 2,000 breakfast attendees in a motivational “black lives matter” chant. Co-founders Patrisse, Alicia and Opal were presented with The Celebrating Women Award in recognition of their fearless leadership in the national movement for Black loves. “Our movement stands on the shoulders of giants. When we created #blacklivesmatter we didn’t know what would happen. It was a love note of black people and black queer people.Our goal is a world where we are interdependent. Where black lives matter so that all lives can matter.”
Catherine Gund is a documentary filmmaker and social justice activist. She was presented with The Vision Award for her activism as a philanthropist and cultural artist. “This room is full of mothers, daughters and sons—including my own. I’m driven by an unrelenting desire for them to live in a world that nurtures each person, that recognizes diverse strengths, that welcomes everyone’s contribution—a world that begs for that cacophony and then rejoices in it. They—all of you, all of us deserve to live in such a world. Labels tend to dismiss people, to simplify, when there is nothing simple about being human. We have problems and the solution is to pay attention.”
Roberta Kaplan, Supreme Court Litigator, U.S. v. Windsor was presented with The Celebrating Women Award in recognition for her persistent leadership in pursuit of equality under the law. “What cured the prior blindness of prior generations in failure to see that their gay brothers, colleagues, and neighbors have the same human need for love and commitment as everyone else? It wasn’t until recently that many Americans realized that they knew someone that was gay. Because of the sea of social disapproval, and the persistence of discrimination in nearly every facet of everyday life for most of the 20th century, continuing sadly even today, many gay people live their lives in the closet so as not to risk losing a job, home, or the love and support of their family and friends. Without the support and understanding of the lives of gay people living openly and with dignity in their communities many American fail to see gay people in their family and see that they have the same aspirations to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as everyone else.
The New York Women’s Foundation is a voice for women and a force for change. They are a cross-cultural alliance of women catalyzing partnerships and leveraging human and financial capital to achieve sustained economic security and justice for women and girls. With a fierce determination, they mobilize hearts, minds and resources to create an equitable and just future for women, families and communities in New York City.
Video Credit: Courtesy of Reiley Wooten Visuals