More than 300 of New York City’s philanthropists, activists and community members from the corporate, finance and entertainment sectors joined forces to raise close to $400,000 at the 34th Anniversary New York Asian Women’s Center (NYAWC) Gala at the Essex House on Thursday night. Themed “Brightening Our Future Together,” the NYAWC Phoenix Awards honored author and journalist Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize, for her commitment to the plight of abused women and children around the world (WuDunn’s husband, New York Times journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Nicholas Kristof, was also at the event to support the cause).
NYAWC is the largest Asian American domestic violence organization in the country, and for the past 34+ years, it has helped women and their children overcome domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual violence and other forms of abuse by empowering them to govern their own lives. More than 1400 women and children are served by NYAWC every year.
“This is the most money our organization has ever raised at a fundraising gala,” said Board Chair Karen Elizaga. “Our community has been tremendously supportive, especially since we have witnessed 50% growth, both in the size of our staff and budget, in the last year and a half.”
The masters of ceremonies at the gala were Nina Pineda of WABC-TV and Ernabel Demillo of CUNY-TV/Asian American Life. Speakers included gala co-chair Yogesh Bahl and executive director Larry Lee. Special guests and performers were auctioneer Charles Antin, comedian Aparna Nancherla and indie rock artist Queen V.
Live and silent auctions engaged the audience and helped raise funds. Some of the highest-bid lots included a wine tour at the Napa vineyard of Yao Ming, former NBA athlete for the Houston Rockets, and two tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton.