Last Thursday, more than 2,200 people joined us as at our Celebrating Women Breakfast as we celebrated our grantee partners and leaders who are working towards racial, gender, and economic justice in New York City and beyond.
We hope that our guests left our Breakfast feeling inspired by the words of our honorees who are leading the fight for equality and justice for women.
Our early morning began with an inspiring performance by Legacy Women, an all-women’s traditional musical group rooted in Afro-Dominican and Afro-Puerto Rican traditions. We brought back 2016 speaker, Jessica Spaulding, who received business development support from our grantee partner Start Small. Think Big., to announce that her store, the Harlem Chocolate Factory is finally open for business!
2017 Vision Award Recipient Anne E. Delaney, presented The New York Community Trust and President Lorie Slutsky with the 2018 Vision Award. Lorie reminded us that “we stand on the shoulders of others who have gone before us,” and paid tribute to her mentors, including Barbara Scott Preiskel, the first woman and African-American chair at the Trust.
Rhanda Dormeus, mother of Korryn Gaines, and #SayHerName activist and Tony Award-winning playwright, activist, and 2003 Celebrating Women Award recipient Eve Ensler, spoke about Celebrating Women award recipient Kimberlé Crenshaw’s crucial role in organizing and uplifting stories of people from marginalized communities. We were energized by Kimberlé’s words reminding us that the fight against racism is intertwined with our fight for gender equality and anti-violence.
Brenda Berkman, pioneering firefighter, co-founder of grantee partner, United Women Firefighters (UWF), and 2000 Celebrating Women Honoree, introduced Eniola Brown, who trained with the UWF when she was a candidate. She is now one of only 72 women firefighters out of a force of almost 11,000 thanks to the support that she received from UWF and her own determination. When we honored Brenda in 2000, we were not giving out our walking stick awards yet, so Eniola surprised Brenda with one of her very own!
Grantee partner Restaurant Opportunities Centers United Co-Founder and Co-Director Saru Jayaraman joined us to encourage support for One Fair Wage, which would require the restaurant industry to pay all its employees—most of whom are women—at least the regular minimum wage.
Our 2016 Celebrating Women Award recipient and Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity, Joanne Smith, presented the Celebrating Women award to Tarana Burke. We were motivated by Tarana’s perseverance and commitment to ending sexual violence and inspired by her grandfather’s advice to “lift as we climb.”
We ended our Breakfast with a history-making moment – the announcement of The Fund to Support the Me Too Movement and Allies with $1 million in seed funding from The Foundation. Abigail Disney and Level Forward, will be supporting the fund because “we can end ‘what if’ if we just have the courage to do it.” Tina Tchen, the lawyer spearheading the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund said, “On behalf of Times Up, we are thrilled about this announcement today…we’re providing legal support but they need so much more…they need social services, they need counseling, they need just to be supported.”