Women celebrating women grand gala

The event, Women Celebrating Women began as a “thank you party” in 1991 dedicated to the many women who had worked diligently to elect Una Clarke to the New York City Council.

The event was organized to coincide with Women’s History Month in the United States. Now celebrating 20 years, Women Celebrating Women have recognized hundreds of women from all areas of society.

On Palm Sunday, April 1, an international gathering of women along with their families and friends converged on the Tropical Ballroom in Brooklyn for the 20th annual Women Celebrating Women Grand Gala. The auspicious red carpet affair featured a who’s who of New York elected officials, community leaders and members of the private and public sector.

Among the 15 distinguished honorees representing various disciplines, many are immigrants who came to America in search of the “American Dream.” These women were recognized for their tireless efforts and their commitment to community development.

In addressing those gathered, Dr. Una Clarke remarked that “This celebration is the acknowledgement by the women of the PDPA and our nominating committee that you are women of excellence, role models and contributors to the development of women and our community.” The PDPA is the Brooklyn based Progressive Democrats Political Association founded by Dr. Clarke and her supporters more than 20 years ago.

In her address, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke said, “I applaud the leadership of this organization, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, C.D., the founder and committee members who have made an immeasurable impact on the children, families, and friends of this community.”

In acknowledging that the road to equality was and still remain a difficult path to pave Congresswoman Clarke added, “let us continue to work together to ensure a brighter future for the next generation of women.”

This year’s honorees are: Ancilla Friday, Community Leader; Dr. Eda Hastick, Educator; Inez King, Senior Leader; Rita Joseph, Public Relations & Communications; Victoria Mitchell, Labor Leader; Elizabeth Gonzales, Community Leader; Nadine Ranger-Akinyemi, MCC Business and Health Care Leader; Yvonne Maynard, Senior Citizenship Award; Dr. Bernice Dema, Optometrist; Gemma Thomas-Ahyase, Esq, Legal/Community Activist; Melissa Torres, Community Leader; Audrey Doorn, Community Leader; Joyce Jervis-Henry, Community Activist; Rose Graham, Educator and Hon. Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, Public Service.

The women gathered and so did their families, friends and supporters who packed the Tropical Ballroom to more than its capacity. The Isaiah Youth Drummers caused a stir when they received three encores which caused two Nigerian women, dressed regally in traditional wear to do an impromptu demonstration of an African dance, which had everyone on their feet.

There was also a city wide showing of elected officials at the grand gala including Assemblyman Nick Perry, State Senator Kevin Parker, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, New City Comptroller John Liu and New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams all of whom brought greetings to the women and those gathered.

Winsome Benjamin was the special guest artist courtesy of Ms. Pat Chin of VP Records. Winsome performed her rendition of the Alicia Keyes hit, “Superwoman” and also closed out the evening with Candi Stayton’s “Young Hearts Run Free.”

Congresswoman Clarke in closing the event encouraged members of the audience to stand firm in light of the recent redistricting that took place, which has geographically changed her district in an attempt to change the voting patterns for the crucial upcoming elections. She implored everyone to go out and vote on June 26 and also in the primaries in September. She spoke passionately about the need to be engaged in the process and to turn up and turn out and vote.

Congress Woman Clarke reminded everyone to be mindful of their actions or lack of it with regards to civic engagement as “complacency becomes complicit!”

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