On Thursday, May 10, 2012, The New York Women’s Foundation® (NYWF) Celebrating Women® Breakfast honored Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Domestic Workers Alliance Ai-jen Poo, and Executive Director of the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement Merble Reagon, at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. Secretary Clinton was awarded with The Century Award, while Ms. Poo and Ms. Reagon were awarded the Celebrating Women® Awards. Others in attendance included Ana L. Oliveira (President & CEO NYWF), Diana L. Taylor (NYWF Board Chair), Taina Bien-Aimé (NYWF Secretary), Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez (NYWF Treasurer), Abigail E. Disney (Honorary Chair), Helen LaKelly Hunt (NYWF Founding Mother & Chair Emerita), Betty Terrell-Cruz (NYWF Founding Mother), Christine Quinn (New York City Council Speaker), Elizabeth Krueger (New York State Senator, District of Manhattan), Charles J. Hynes (NY County District Attorney), Scott Stringer (Manhattan Borough President), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn Borough President), John C. Liu (New York City Comptroller), Tina Brown (Editor in Chief Newsweek Daily Beast), Jean Shafiroff (Philanthropist), Louise Wachtmeister (Founder, Best of All Worlds), Tamsen Fadal (Anchor, WPIX 11), Phillip Bloch (Celebrity Stylist), Betty Terrell-Cruz (NYWF Founding Mother), Anita Channapati (Celebrating Women® Breakfast Co-Chair), Anne E. Delaney (NYWF Vice-Chair & Celebrating Women® Breakfast Co-Chair), and Robyn Brady Ince (Celebrating Women® Breakfast Co-Chair).
In twenty-five years, the NYWF will reach $33 million in funding to over 280 women-lead, nonprofit organizations, improving the lives of 5.4 million women and girls in New York City; 81% of those nonprofits succeed in thriving today. This year, the NYWF Celebrating Women® Breakfast had over 2,300 guests in attendance.
NYWF Board Chair, Diana Taylor welcomed all attendees and introduced the 69 Grantee Partners for the NYWF, seated on stage on the dias, to the Breakfast. Speaker of the New York City Council, Christine Quinn then spoke regarding her work with the gay and lesbian community, applauded President Obama on his support for marriage equality and praised the NYWF for “making [New York City]and the world, a better place for every girl.” Afterward, NYWF Founding Mothers Helen LaKelly Hunt and Betty Terrell-Cruz, were brought to the stage, and spoke about the advancement of the NYWF since its inception in 1987.
Merble Reagon, honoree, was introduced and spoke regarding the self-sufficiency calculator she helped to create and her desire to sustain the work that NYWF supports for the future, “I started doing this work for my generation, I continue for my daughter’s and granddaughter’s generations.” Honoree, Ai-jen Poo, also spoke regarding the work, “care, love and support,” that NYWF does which spans multiple generations. Ms. Poo noted that, “when women on the front lines of inequality come together to affect change, everyone wins.”
Following the two honorees, four women were introduced and spoke regarding their experience with grantee partners of the NYWF. According to Sheena, “failing is not a sign of weakness, it’s the steps you take after that.”
Another young woman, Ebony, then spoke about being arrested at a young age, while pregnant, and having her daughter while in jail. After her release from jail, she lived in a grantee partner run home where she built herself up and changed her life, she said, “change takes time, love makes the difference.”
Ana Oliveira, President & CEO of the NYWF took the stage and spoke about the “game changing time of 2012” for the foundation. She then introduced Robyn Brady Ince, Anita Channapati, and Anne Delaney, Co-Chairs of the 2012 Celebrating Women® Breakfast.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted the Century Award from Abigail E. Disney, her longtime friend. Secretary Clinton honored the grantees that comprise the New York Women’s Foundation and spoke about overcoming difficult circumstances as women, movingly referencing her mother as an example. Secretary Clinton noted that her mother overcame financial difficulties but remained resilient and committed to her family not only by helping herself, but with the assistance and kindness of others. She mentioned that we now take this kindness for granted, “But in the 1920’s there weren’t a lot of formal organizations doing this kind of work.” Secretary Clinton also “expressed on behalf of [her] mother great gratitude for reaching out that hand, for providing that support, that safe place, and for giving hope and love to so many who need it.”