NEW YORK, NY– Tonight, the Ms. Foundation for Women celebrated cofounder Gloria Steinem’s 80th birthday and the organization’s 40th anniversary at its annual gala. The sold-out crowd included performers, elected officials, authors and leaders of feminist and progressive organizations, including Chelsea Handler, Gabourey Sidibe, Kathy Najimy, Amy Schumer, Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudekis, Billie Jean King, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Maxine Waters (D-CA).
The foundation announced its new CEO and president, Teresa C. Younger, who most recently served as the executive director of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW).
“At this time of both feminist success and backlash against it, Teresa C. Younger is the perfect person to continue the grassroots strength of the Ms. Foundation, and build it into policy and protection against backlash,” said Gloria Steinem. “She knows how to make the needs of the majority of women into guiding principles of action.”
Younger is a strong advocate and well-respected feminist leader, with a proven track record in nonprofit management and fundraising. During her tenure at PCSW, Younger has been instrumental in campaigns that resulted in state legislation to raise the minimum wage and provide paid sick leave in Connecticut. Younger successfully safeguarded women’s access to reproductive health care during hospital mergers. She also helped strengthen sexual assault legislation to hold college campuses accountable for rape prevention and reporting.
“We need to build upon the Ms. Foundation legacy, not just drink from the well – but build even more wells so that the next generation of women can redefine what it looks like to grow up in this country,” Younger said.
Younger is the second African American to serve as the organization’s CEO and president. She will take office on June 16, 2014.
The foundation also introduced incoming chair of the board of directors, Heather Arnet, who is CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania. In that position, Arnet spearheads efforts to decrease the gender wage gap and increase women’s representation on public and corporate boards.
The Ms. Foundation for Women Legacy Awards were presented grantees who represent the organization’s groundbreaking work over the past four decades. Awardees included Charon Asetoyer and the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center; Ellen Bravo and Wisconsin chapter of 9 to 5; Connie Evans and Women’s Self-Employment Project; Miriam Yeung and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; and Denicia Cadena and Young Women United.
The awards were presented by former CEOs Sara Gould, Rochelle Korman, Anika Rahman, Joyce Yu and Marie C. Wilson (president emerita).
Gloria Steinem presented the Woman of Vision Award to Marissa Nuncio, director of the Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles. Nuncio and her organization work to empower garment workers to address problems endemic in the industry, including wage theft, and unhealthy and unsafe working conditions.
Steinem also presented a Woman of Vision Award to Cathy Raphael, the outgoing chair of the foundation’s board and a longtime feminist activist and philanthropist. She has served on the boards of the Funding Exchange, the Women Donors Network, Women’s Law Project, Society for Contemporary Craft, Peaceful Dwelling Place and Phoenix Institute.
For over 40 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has secured women’s rights and freedoms with a special commitment to building the power of low-income, immigrant and women of color. The foundation invests funds, time, expertise and training in nearly 100 trailblazing organizations nationwide.