On The Avenue

The Strength of Women

Friday, November 4, 2016

583 Park Avenue is known as just that, 583 Park. The building, unlike many of Manhattan’s other event spaces, has no official name, but on Thursday afternoon, November 3, it played host to a group of extraordinary women.

92Y, the multifaceted cultural institution, selected the venue as the location for this year’s Extraordinary Women Luncheon. The event was hosted and moderated by designer Norma Kamali, whom you might remember for creating Farrah Fawcett’s red swimsuit. The luncheon brought together powerful women from all around New York City, and some from all around the U.S., together to discuss important issues facing women today and how to build a better world for women and young girls. In the immortal words of Beyonc√©, “Who run the world? Girls.”

As guests gathered in the dining room to enjoy lunch after checking their coats and designer bags, there was of course wine to be had. The age old question didn’t fail to be asked, “red or white?”

If there was a lesson in the beauty of feminist empowerment to be had, it took place in this room. Generations of women sat at their respected dining tables discussing how far women’s rights had come, how far it still had to go, and their personal experiences in the workplace.

“I was part of the first generation of women where we had opportunities aside from teacher, nurse and secretary,” A guest said, sipping her iced tea. “I remember being told not to be too much of a woman. There were no women mentors for me to even look up to.”

As the salmon and salad arrived for lunch, via the waiters in their sleek military style jackets, a video began to play. The video featured women of all ages discussing the positive impact 92Y had on their lives. Guests were also invited to anonymously text 92Y with one word that they think girls should aspire to be or something they should aspire to have. In the middle of lunch, the responses flashed across the screen like “confidence,” “intelligence” and “education.”

The three women honored this year were Barbara Schwartz with the Emily Rosenthal Award, Leila Foulon with the Margot Friedlander Award and Amanda Nguyen with the Clara de Hirsch Award. Schwartz has been committed to early childhood education and building a better future for girls for over three decades. Foulon, at just 16 years old, is a dedicated social activist, and is also heavily involved with 92Y as a volunteer. Nguyen is the founder of president of rise, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of sexual assault survivors.

Each shared their personal stories about what empowering women meant to them, with Schwartz growing teary as the as she talked about her years of commitment to women’s issues. Foulon impressed the audience with how well spoken she was for such a young girl, with the room bursting into applause when she was done. The most heart string pulling story of them all was easily from Nguyen who told the story about how she had to stand before Congress for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights being a victim herself. The bill eventually passed unanimously through the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year.

As the women received their honors, guests finished up the afternoon fete with dessert and photographs to remember this little moment in NYC’s women’s history. Wasn’t it extraordinary?

All photos credited to Michael Priest Photography. 




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