Nearly 300 friends and supporters joined IWHC for its annual gala held at The Pierre in New York City on April 8, 2013. Marlene Hess, chair-elect of the IWHC board, served as the chair of the 2013 Gala Committee, and delivered the opening and closing remarks. The following are excerpts from her remarks.
Thank you. I’d like to welcome you all here. We’re thrilled to have you. I’m going to wait until everybody settles in for one second. I’m so glad that you are here. I’m Marlene Hess. I’m the chair-elect of the board of IWHC. And I’m also the chair of tonight’s dinner and, by the way, that means never agree to be the chair of a dinner. Anyway, we’re thrilled that you are here and helping us to honor the very magnificent Christiane Amanpour. We’re also here to pay tribute to the very extraordinary Joan Dunlop. And to support the wonderful work that IWHC, the International Women’s Health Coalition, does with our partners worldwide.
I’d like to begin by giving recognition and great thanks to some very important people in this room who played crucial roles in making IWHC what it is today. We have here two past board chairs, Elen Chesler, and Kati Martin. They each have had an extraordinary imprint in making us what we are today, and we are very, very grateful to both of them. Our current chair, Brian Brink, could not be with us today. He is in Switzerland at an important meeting for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. So, I’m sorry he’s not here, but I want to take this opportunity to express our deepest thanks to our wonderful board vice chair, Ann Unterberg. Ann’s tireless efforts have helped us over the past several years and sustained us while we’ve gone through a really remarkable transition. So, Ann, thank you very much for everything that you’ve done. I also want to recognize somebody very important to us, Adrienne Germain, our former president. Adrienne made extraordinary contributions to IWHC and to, in fact, all of the field of women’s reproductive health. And we all benefit tremendously from her wonderful, wonderful legacy. So, Adrienne, here’s to you.
As you may know, Joan Dunlop helped to found International Women’s Health Coalition in 1984. She was our first president and one way or another really remained at the helm through our entire history. We greatly benefited and we’re blessed by her tremendous intelligence, her vision, her passion, her wonderful sense of humor, her wonderful common sense, her magnificent smile, and her enormous and very, very generous spirit. She has shaped everything that we are and everything that we aspire to be. We are so blessed to be an organization that she really created. As you know, I can’t tell you how much we miss her. After dinner we are going to be awarding the Joan B. Dunlop Award in her memory. We are very, very honored that her sister, Penelope West, and her niece, Joanna, are here tonight to be with us. We also have many of her friends here who have really come to be part of the presentation of this award, so thank you very, very much for being here.
Of course, tonight’s dinner would not be possible without the wonderful support of all of you and of our very generous corporate and foundation sponsors. Thank you so much Bloomberg and Pfizer, U.S. Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management Group, and of course, the United Nations Foundation. I thank you for being with us and for sticking with us, and please continue to stick with us.
We have a terrific, terrific program for you. We’re thrilled to be honoring the immensely talented and truly outstanding Christiane Amanpour. Christiane’s great commitment to promoting the rights of women and girls is clearly evident in her award-winning journalism. And the world is really fortunate to have her on the side of women and girls. They need her and we need her. So, thank you so very much. And now I’d like to welcome Françoise Girard, our fantastic new president. She has the honor of introducing Christiane. Thank you very much.
Thank you all so very much. As you heard, what we do is build bridges between local wonderful organizations and local leaders. We help them build capacity, we help them with training, we help them anyway we can. And we help connect them to the global policy agenda. We try to influence funding, we are a big player with many donor governments. We are a big player with a lot of international agencies including the UN and the United Nations Foundation.
Thank you to many of our foundation sponsors who are here, thank you to our corporate sponsors. We can’t do this, as you heard from Christiane–and thank you, Christiane, for lending your voice to ours–we can’t do this without all of you. We need you thinking about us and talking about us. You all, anybody who bought a ticket is now a member of our Leadership Council. We have wonderful lunches, only about three or so a year, and great speakers to talk about these issues. At one of them I think last year, but maybe it was the year before, we had Melanne Verveer who is the U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. After she spoke, we asked her what it was that kept her up at night. And she said, “You know what keeps me up at night is the value of a little girl.” And I think that’s what really we’re all here for. I think we need to think about that, and part of the way that this will work is if we value our little boys too and make sure that they understand that we’re in it together.
So, thank you for coming. Please think about us. Please keep us in the top of your mind. Please talk about us. And please come back again. Thank you.