May 16, 2023
Ms. Foundation for Women Honors Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, LaTosha Brown, Rebekah Bruesehoff, Olivia Julianna, Kimberly Inez McGuire and Wanda Irving at 2023 Women of Vision Awards
The 50th anniversary gala included special remarks by Ms. Foundation Founding Mother Gloria Steinem and President and CEO Teresa C. Younger, and marked the kick-off of the organization’s largest fundraising campaign in history, “Creating the Future We Deserve: It Takes All of Us”
NEW YORK, NY, May 16, 2023 – Tonight, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the nation’s first and oldest women’s foundation, celebrated its 50th anniversary and honored an impressive group of visionary leaders at the Women of Vision Awards: Celebrating Generations of Progress & Power. This year’s event explored the past, present and future of the Ms. Foundation and feminist movements while raising funds for the organization’s strategic, equity-centered initiatives.
The evening honored champion of human rights and gender equity Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, community organizer and political strategist and co-founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown, LGBTQ+ activist Rebekah Bruesehoof, activist and Director of Politics & Government Affairs of Gen-Z for Change Olivia Julianna, and two leaders from Ms. Foundation grantee partner organizations – Kimberly Inez McGuire, executive director of URGE and Wanda Irving, co-founder of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project. The event was hosted by Ms. Foundation Board Member Danielle Moodie, host of the Woke AF Daily podcast. Sweet Honey In The Rock® entertained attendees with a rousing performance and renowned DJ Mary Mac performed a special after-party set following the awards ceremony. Guests at the after-party were also welcomed by radio host Angela Yee of Way Up with Angela Yee and previously The Breakfast Club.
The Ms. Foundation also unveiled their largest fundraising campaign onstage, Creating the Future We Deserve, with a fundraising goal of $100 million over the next year. Building off of Lucia Woods Lindley’s generous legacy gift of $50 million, the campaign will accelerate the movements for gender and racial equity by providing support to grantee partners throughout the country to strengthen reproductive justice, improve economic security, and support equity and justice for all. The foundation kickstarted the campaign onstage and raised nearly $1.5 million throughout the evening.
The Women of Vision Awards is the Ms. Foundation for Women’s largest annual fundraising event, honoring feminist advocates, activists, and thought-leaders who ignite policy and cultural change. For the past fifty years, the Ms. Foundation has invested more than $90 million to build grassroots movements fighting for gender equity for women, particularly women of color around the country. Since its inception, the foundation has supported over 1,600 grassroots organizations throughout the country working for change on a grassroots level in order to build power and advance democracy.
Below, please see highlights from the night and key quotes from the evening’s speakers.
HIGHLIGHT: Ms. Foundation Founding Mother Gloria Steinem opened the evening:
QUOTE: Gloria Steinem said, “This is a celebration of a time in which it is so much better. That one day in the future, we won’t need gender and race and class focused foundations because we will all be together, and individual, and without adjectives.”
HIGHLIGHT: Ms. Foundation President and CEO Teresa C. Younger, presented Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex with her award:
QUOTE: Teresa C. Younger said, “Her core belief that representation matters, and her connection to community through the lens of learning, healing, and inspiring have helped define her as a cultural catalyst for positive change. Tonight we are thrilled to recognize Meghan’s strength, resilience, passion and tenacity, which is critical to building a better world for our mothers and grandmothers, our children and their children, and ourselves.”
HIGHLIGHT: Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, Woman of Vision Award Recipient
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex was honored for her global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls.
QUOTE: Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex said, “Because of this foundation, so many of our youth have been instilled with self-worth and limitless possibility no matter their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability or age. Your collective work in pursuit of a world where every person is truly valued is nothing short of awe inspiring.”
HIGHLIGHT: LaTosha Brown, Woman of Vision Award Recipient
LaTosha Brown was honored for her tireless political activism and work to bring about social change
QUOTE: LaTosha Brown said, “Even pain has a purpose. What we’re looking at that’s happening in this country right now–this isn’t just a matter about what the Republicans or the Democrats are going to do–it really is a question about what is it that we’re going to do collectively to lean into this moment of discomfort and recognize it as an opportunity to get it right because we haven’t gotten it right. There are millions of people that are living in poverty – we haven’t gotten it right. We’re saying that women don’t have the power and authority over their own body. We don’t have it right when our children are going to school and are shocked that we value gun laws over their lives.”
HIGHLIGHT: Annually, the Ms. Foundation honors grassroots leaders who have impacted the women’s movement in unparalleled ways, and this year, Wanda Irving, co-founder of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project and Kimberly Inez McGuire, executive director of URGE were the organization’s grantee partners who each received a Woman of Vision Award.
QUOTE: Wanda Irving said, “I accept this prestigious award on behalf of all lost mothers across the world. I accept this award for the many women who have become victims of the Black maternal health crisis. And it is my hope that this will persuade others to raise their voices and be encouraged to continue fighting for what they truly believe in.”
QUOTE: Kimberly Inez McGuire said, “My ask of all of you here tonight: listen to young people. Young people, one in five of whom are queer or trans, and most of whom are BIPOC or multiracial— young people have never felt safe in this country. From racism, to climate crisis, to gun violence, the precarity of our future is deeply felt by young people, particularly in the South, Midwest, and other regions grappling with legacies of underinvestment and the rise of white nationalism and its accompanying attacks on trans youth, abortion, and democracy…But young people aren’t the victims in the story, they are the heroes. Young people are more engaged than ever before, creating networks of care and community that defy the authoritarian police state, voting through their disillusionment with politics to elect leaders that represent their values, and demanding change at every level of power.”
HIGHLIGHT: Olivia Julianna, Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award Recipient:
This award honors trailblazing feminist leaders who amplify their voice and enact positive change by paving the way for generations to come. Olivia is an abortion rights activist and the Director of Politics & Government Affairs of Gen-Z for Change.
QUOTE: Olivia Julianna said, “As a visionary, as someone whose sole purpose in life is making progress. I no longer say I am fighting for equality. In modern day America I am not fighting for equality. I am fighting for liberation from a white supremacist patriarchal system. As an openly queer Latin woman– make no mistake I do not want to be equal to men in this country. I do not want the power to oppress with intention, i do not want to objectify on a whim, or abuse without consequence. Becoming equal in an oppressive system does not free us from oppression– it makes us the oppressors.”
HIGHLIGHT: Rebekah Bruesehoff, Free to Be You and Me Award Recipient:
This award honors young activists enacting change and leading the way for future generations. Rebecca was honored for her heroic advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.
QUOTE: Rebecca Bruesehoff said, “Things are hard right now for transgender young people. Every day there’s another terrible headline. And still, I know these two things: One, no one can steal our joy. We are creative, resourceful, ambitious, and hilarious. Trans joy is irresistible! Two, love is more powerful than fear, and I’m looking at a room full of people who know what it means to lead with love. You give me hope. Tonight I’m asking all of you to use your voices, in your communities to say: Trans kids are just like all other kids. And like all kids, they need our support. Right now, more than ever.”
For 50 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has shaped women’s philanthropy in the United States, providing a blueprint for the establishment of hundreds of local and regional women’s funds, influencing mainstream culture through nationwide projects such as Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and making grants totaling over $90 million to more than 1,600 grassroots organizations across the country. Through research, advocacy, and grantmaking, the Ms. Foundation is the national model for sustainable, trust-based philanthropic support of women of color-led movements. With equity and inclusion as the cornerstones of true democracy, the Ms. Foundation works to create a world in which the worth and dignity of every person are valued, and power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age.