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Graham’s “Reach for the Stars” Gala benefit on May 23, 2023
In honor of Georgia Wall and in support of Graham’s children and families—was truly magnificent! It was a record-breaking event for Graham that, with full Board support and generous contributions from so many caring New Yorkers, raised more than $3.2 million to help 5,000 kids and families achieve their education, work, and life goals.
The night opened with the Marching Cobras drumming up fanfare and closed with a spirited performance of “My Shot” by cast members of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize Winning Musical Hamilton who also surprised us with a serenade of “Georgia on My Mind” dedicated to Georgia Wall. Tears flowed, not only down my smiling cheeks, but across the beautiful, star-studded room.
Thanks to our Co-Chairs Rich Rothman and Ken Bryant for inspiring others to support our mission as we seek to scale our signature coaching models across the city and the nation. It was so powerful to share the work of Graham with close friends and new guests alike, and to welcome to the stage my amazing predecessors Poul Jensen and Jess Dannhauser who helped us to pay tribute to Georgia’s 30 extraordinary years of leadership—and celebrate the collective efforts of our Board, staff, and volunteers—a mighty and passionate team, nearly 700 strong.
Special thanks to our Gala benefit committee led by trustees Jen Mackesy and Heather McVeigh with support from Tess O’Dwyer, CMI Events, and Graham’s own Mayra Pacheco. A special shout out to Graham alum Sheniqua Roberts for providing riveting testimony about the transformative impact of having a Graham SLAM coach in her remarkable life. To the 500 people who came out in support of Graham’s children and families, thank you! For the countless others who care about Graham but who could not join us—thank you too! Thank you all for making our work possible!
And last but not least—thank you, Georgia Wall, for teaching all of us at Graham how to reach for the stars. Your vision, passion, dedication are truly peerless!
Graham’s Coffee Chat with Kimberly Watson
On May 20, 2021, our friends at the Redlich Horowitz Foundation hosted a virtual event to welcome our President & CEO-elect, Kimberly Watson, into her new role at Graham. Kym sat down at O.U.R. Place (Graham’s Family Enrichment Center in the Bronx) with Graham Board Member and Fordham University’s Dumpson Chair of Child Welfare Studies, Dr. Anne Williams-Isom.
Their “coffee chat” with social justice leaders and philanthropists took place over cups of delicious coffee provided to zoom guests across the city by Brooklyn Roasting Company. Kym and Anne enthusiastically discussed Graham’s bold Vision 2025 and shared ideas for transforming relationships between foundations, nonprofits, and communities to benefit NYC families post-pandemic and beyond.
Watch the video below and enjoy this glimpse into the future of Graham and of how we intend to go deeper into communities to care for kids and families—with your support!
Celebrating Our 214th Anniversary
We are so thrilled that Graham’s first ever Virtual Gala, which premiered online on Tuesday, September 29th at 7:30PM, was an extraordinary success! It was a record-breaking event for Graham– we raised more than $2.3 million -to benefit our kids and families! Over 300 members of the Graham community tuned in for our first ever virtual gala and we could not have done it without all of you who tuned in last week.
We were so proud to honor our Board Member Jennifer Mackesy and her husband Scott Mackesy for their leadership and abundant generosity over the years. They exemplify the mission of our founder, and so we were delighted to present them with Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton Legacy Award.
We were also excited to honor and present Ali and Joe Torre with the Champion’s for Children Award. The work that they do through the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation continues to be a beacon of inspiration to all of us at Graham.
Our Chairman of the Board, Georgia Wall, highlighted our Graham SLAM (Support, Lead, Achieve, Model) program that provides youth in foster care with coaches to support them from high school to college to a living wage. She had a meaningful conversation with Sheniqua Roberts, Youth Outreach Coordinator, Graham. Sheniqua spoke about first being introduced to Graham at the age of ten, transitioning to foster care and then coming back to Graham and being introduced to SLAM in her early 20’s. Sheniqua is a shining example of the positive impact that Graham’s coaching program can have on the lives of vulnerable, at risk young people in our city. She praised her coach Kaya for her support and encouragement, and thanked her for being by her side through the toughest of times.
Kym Watson, our Chief Operating Officer who was once foster care herself, and Wanda Tyson, our Family Coach/Advocate for Prevention Services shared their stories. Both Kym and Wanda conveyed “this is not just a job for us!” They are both success stories of talented people within the Graham family that overcame so much and are now working at Graham and making a positive impact on young children and families with backgrounds similar to their own.
Once again, our Board Member, Ken Bryant, led a successful Fund a Coach appeal which will help us to hire more Family Advocates and Youth Coaches for our young people in Graham SLAM. Ken conveyed just how important the generosity of our donors is and our viewers reacted. At the end of the appeal we raised more than $145K!
The event concluded with a performance by The Marching Cobras of Cobra Performing Arts, Inc., a talented and charismatic group of young people who drummed, danced, and marched their way into our hearts. And I also was elated to announce the launch of our $15 million growth campaign as we head into our 215 years of serving the nearly 4,000+ young people and families in the Graham Community.
Thank you for never giving up on our kids. This year’s gala was a testament to what we can do, even in these unprecedented and challenging times with friends like you standing by their side, and we are deeply grateful for you!
We hope to see you in person next year.