NYWF’s 2015 Celebrating Women Breakfast Event Recap

We hosted our 28th annual Celebrating Women Breakfast on Thursday, May 14th. Our 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.

So far we’ve raised $2 million dollars. Every dollar donated to the Foundation by Friday, May 22nd will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. Everyone can be a philanthropist so make a gift today to help move the needle in bringing economic equality to New York City! Click here to give today! 

We started off our Breakfast with a rousing performances of Ellie Goulding’s Burn and the Supremes’ Keep Me Hanging On by all female a capella ensemble ELEMENT upon their arrival to the ballroom.

Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of the Good Old Lower East Side and Helen Kim, Executive Director of the YWCA of Queens, opened up the breakfast by introducing the rest of NYWF’s grantee partners that were being celebrated that day. Damaris and Helen both spoke passionately about the meaningful impacts that NYWF’s grants have had on real lives in real communities.

Our Chair of the Board of Directors, Anne E. Delaney, warmly welcomed the audience on behalf of The New York Women’s Foundation and proudly stated that The Foundation will grant $6 million dollars this year making us the third largest women’s fund in the world. “Without your partnership, we couldn’t do the far-reaching work that defines our mission,” Anne said as she gave thanks to our supporters and donors.

Our Honorary Chair, Abigail E. Disney, gave a powerful speech presenting the Vision Award to filmmaker and activist philanthropist, Catherine Gund.

Catherine Gund accepted the Vision Award and spoke on her personal call to philanthropy and activism. She inspired the crowd with a rousing speech and emotional reflection on her work as a filmmaker, telling us to “breath deeply, make art, and solve problems collectively.” Her words truly inspired our early morning and left us with a call to action: “Optimism is a social justice issue…change is not only possible, it is necessary.”

Mariel, from NYWF’s grantee partner, Year Up, took the stage and shared her personal story of success in entering the IT Industry through support and guidance from Year Up. Mariel is now one semester away from getting her college associates degree and a project manager for a consulting firm.

Our board member, Yvonne Moore, and the Director of the Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy at Union Theological Seminary, Charlene Sinclair, presented the three co-founders of #BlackLivesMatter, with their walking stick awards.

Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi, the three co-founders of #BlackLivesMatter led the over 2,000 breakfast attendees in a powerful “Black Lives Matter” chant solidifying that #BlackLivesMatter is not a moment, but a movement that stands on the shoulders of giants. Their powerful words brought the crowds to a standing ovation as they accepted their awards. Alicia Garza spoke of the origins of the movement as “a love note to black people and black queer people.”

Lashawn, from NYWF’s grantee partner STRIVE, took the stage and spoke about her personal story of resilience and growth – from leaving an abusive relationship, living in a shelter with her three children, to finding her inner personal strength that led her to make the decision to seek services from STRIVE. Lashawn is now close to finishing her associate’s degree and plans to build a career in public administration. Every year we are honored to have individuals share their stories of growth and success at our Breakfast.

Our President and CEO, Ana L. Oliveira, spoke on The Foundation’s work in tackling racism and economic inequality in New York City and highlighted the issues that the city needs to address – such as living wages. She also introduced several new partnerships that The Foundation is involved with. Click here to read more about our partnerships.

Our partnership with the Hildegard Fund will allow The Foundation to leverage grant-making, public education, and advocacy to amplify women’s voices in a newly evolving economy. This partnership will put women at the forefront of the New Economy movement.

We were also proud to announce our new fund to support Young Women and Girls of Color in partnership with the NoVo Foundation and the New York City Council. We are elevating our leadership to make effective change in this city and that starts with racial and gender equity.

Our Board alumna, Rhonda Joy Mclean, and current Board member Grainne McNamara, encouraged our guests to donate to The Foundation because “every dollar counts, you don’t have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist!” Every dollar that is donated to The Foundation from now until Friday, May 22nd, will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. Double your impact and make a gift here.

Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, gave a bold award presentation to Roberta Kaplan, in recognition for her persistent leadership in pursuit of equality under the law.

Our Celebrating Women Award recipient, Roberta Kaplan, spoke about her role in knocking down DOMA in US. v. Windsor and how the ruling of “Windsor means that courts matter, the constitution matters, and what activists do really, really matters.”

We ended our 2015 Breakfast by announcing our launch of RADIANCE, a photography book created by renowned photographer Emmanuel Andre, celebrating 46 past and present grantee partners. We embarked on a journey with Emmnuel and writer, Humera Afridi, to honor and raise the visibility of powerful and daring activists, visionaries and community leaders who are transforming and illuminating New York City. Narbada Chhetri from Adhikaar and Shawnta Alston from Welfare Rights Initiative officially launched RADIANCE by sharing their personal experiences in creating this book.

ELEMENT came back on stage to close the program with a rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” and was joined by all of our Breakfast speakers, honorees, and grantee partners. We hope that everyone will join us for our 29th Celebrating Women Breakfast next year on May 5th, 2016!
Click here to see more photos from the Breakfast!

Join us at the Celebrating Women® Breakfast on Thursday, May 4!