Womankind Raises $600,000 to Support Pathways for Survivors of Violence
Photo courtesy of Shelly Simon
Womankind's 2019 Benefit Gala at The Lighthouse in Chelsea Piers in New York City celebrated survivors' pathways to refuge, recovery, and renewal. With the collective effort of 350+ guests and nearly 40 generous sponsors, Womankind raised $600,000--the most raised to date--for its programs and services for survivors of gender-based violence.
"It is incredible to stand on the sidelines for the evolution of our staff's innovation and commitment to the survivors alongside whom we stand," said Womankind Board Chair, Karen Elizaga, pictured above with indie rock artist and longtime Womankind supporter Queen V. "Being there for our clients throughout their journeys from trauma to healing is fulfilling, and we are so grateful that your support allows us to think creatively and execute deliberately."
Niketa Sheth, Womankind's Executive Director who is pictured above surrounded by staff, spoke about all the people who showed up in her life after the tragic loss of her mother. "All of these remarkable humans come without judgment and without prescription for the best way forward. Instead, they bring love, companionship, and a willingness to learn. This is the commitment we make at Womankind. Every day, we are deeply inspired by the women, men, and families who come to us in need of support. We are honored to share in their journeys, walk alongside them, and gently remind them of their strength."
Womankind was incredibly proud to present the Rising Phoenix Award to Nicole Ponseca, a James Beard-nominated cookbook author and television personality, and the Phoenix Woman of the Year Award to television journalist Connie Chung.
In his introduction to Connie, ABC7 anchor Bill Ritter spoke about her main legacy being courage. "Courage to be a role model to so many. Courage to be the first Asian American TV journalist to anchor a network news show. Courage to compete and go beyond success in what was then an overwhelmingly male-dominated business. Connie showed her courage again when she wrote an incredibly personal and painful piece for the Washington Post (about the sexual assault against her by her doctor). After all she had done professionally, Connie Chung took her place once again as a role model to so many by saying, 'Me too.'"
Asian American television news legends Cindy Hsu, Connie Chung, and Kaity Tong
ABC7 consumer reporter and Womankind Board Member Nina Pineda presented the award to fellow Pinay, Nicole Ponseca, a New York City-based restaurateur of two groundbreaking Filipino establishments: Maharlika and Jeepney, who combined marketing and her hospitality background to truly ignite a dormant conversation on Filipino culture and cuisine. Like Nikki, she also shared stories of how friends and family showed up in her life after leaving an abusive relationship, and how they supported her in her healing journey, "just like how you all have a friend in Womankind."
Later in Life team member Samantha Zhang getting highlighter touch up by a Trestique makeup artist. Photo by Shelly Simon.
Jia, pictured above, shared her story of moving into one of Womankind's emergency homes with her mother and brother at age 7 and positive experiences she gained: "As a child, I faced a lot of unknown things that were traumatic. There were many times in my life where I've had to face them. But I've changed my unknowns into the known with the help of my DAT (mentorship program for youth) community. I was given the opportunity to be with a community that had been touched by violence like myself. We were given the tools to take fate into our own hands. I hope that for any unknowns or changes that happen to you, that you will be able to face it head on because you know that you have the Womankind community behind you."
Our 2019 gala was incredibly successful thanks to the collective effort and dedication of gala co-chairs Mae Hsieh, Susanna Hong, and Yinan Xia (all pictured above), honorary co-chairs Alina Cho, Cecilia Pagkalinawan, and Ai-Jen Poo, and event strategist Kacey Koeppel. With profound gratitude, we thank Merv Garretson of Hearst Communications and Janet Akie Masamitsu for their creative vision and direction, and Jen Epstein for her animation talent. Special thanks to the incredible VaynerMedia for their pro bono video work with Womankind, Mission Media, and Womankind Advocate Nusrat Siraj and her client for sharing their story. Of course, our fundraising goal would not be possible without the auctioning prowess of CK Swett. We also thank entertainers DJ Benny Blanco and the Resistance Revival Chorus (pictured below) for wow-ing the crowd with their collective, powerful voice. A beautiful thank you to Trestique for touching up makeup for guests. And finally, the evening went smoothly thanks to the amazing teamwork of Womankind staff volunteers, Kacey's team, and Give Smart.
The fundraising success of the evening was made possible by the generosity of guests--both old and new, donors to the live and silent auction and gift bags, and even those who could not attend the gala, but still donated. Womankind thanks our Board of Directors and sponsors including Karen Elizaga & Jay Ptashek, Kiehl's Worldwide, Pauline Lee & Daniel Zubkoff, Jenifer & Brendan Garvey, Susanna Hong, J.T. Tai & Co. Foundation, AlixPartners, Chef Jordan Andino of Flip Sigi (pictured below), Yogesh Bahl & Family, Connie Chung & Maury Povich, Kathy Chuy & Jay Huang, Goldman Sachs, Hearst Communications, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Paul Hastings LLP, Janet A. Masamitsu & Merv Garretson, Tony Group Foundation Fund, WAC Lighting, and all Gala Committee level sponsors.
Thanks to Lucas Huang
, Shelly Simon
, and Yinan Xia
for photography. Photos can be found here
. Please check back often as we add more.
Thank you again all for a memorable gala, and for sustaining Womankind's work with survivors of gender-based violence. Until Gala 2020!