Connie Chung

Ana Oliveira With Ginny Day, Diana Taylor And Soledad O'Brien

The New York Women’s Foundation® (NYWF), led by President & CEO Ana L. Oliveira, celebrated their milestone 25th Anniversary and honored four, very special philanthropic leaders, Soledad O’Brien and her husband Brad Raymond, and Ginny Day and Sean Day, at their Fall Celebration: Improving the Lives of Women and Families in New York City on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at the Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Veteran Journalist and Television Personality Connie Chung hosted the Celebration with a very special performance by Tony Award® Winning Playwright & Performer Sarah Jones. Attendees included Diana L. Taylor (NYWF Board Chair), Anne E. Delaney (NYWF Board Vice-Chair), Yvonne Moore (NYWF Board Secretary), Susan Coté (NYWF Treasurer), Helen LaKelly Hunt (NYWF Founding Mother, Chair Emerita), Rossana Rosado (NYWF Board Member), Jean Shafiroff (NYWF Board Member), Anita Channapati (NYWF Board Member), Hyatt Bass (NYWF Board Member), Taina Bien-Aimé (NYWF Board Member), Susan R. Cullman (NYWF Board Member), Kwanza R. Butler (NYWF Board Member) Lisa M. Holton (NYWF Board Member), Antoinette E. La Belle (NYWF Board Member), Ann Short (NYWF Board Member), Celeste Smith (NYWF Board Member), Regan Solmo (NYWF Board Member).

Over the past twenty-five years, the NYWF has invested $33 million in funding to over 280 women-led, nonprofit organizations, improving the lives of 5.4 million women and girls in New York City; 81% of those nonprofits have succeeded and are still thriving today. In 2009, the NYWF responded to the economic crisis by launching RISE-NYC!, a 5-year partnership initiative that increased its grant-making by more than 20% in focused areas including economic security, anti-violence and safety, and health and reproductive rights. 

Veteran journalist and television personality Connie Chung welcomed all attendees to The New York Women’s Foundation® 25th Anniversary Celebration and honored the “realization of the vision of a group of far-sighted women.” Ms. Chung addressed the inception of The NYWF and how “twenty five years ago they brought together women from different walks of life…funding community-based organizations run by women and innovative, bold leaders working with the hardest problems: domestic violence, poverty and reproductive rights.” She then introduced Diana L. Taylor, The NYWF Board Chair, who thanked the founding mothers, co-chairs, vice-chairs, Board of Directors past and present, plus The NYWF’s generous donors including Baja Wines, who donated wine for the evening’s celebration. The NYWF Board Member, Rosanna Rosado then spoke, introducing Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond, honorees of the 25th Anniversary Celebration. Ms. O’Brien and Mr. Raymond started a family foundation called the Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond Foundation which supports hard working young women in their educational pursuits, sending them “to and through” college. They currently have 12 scholars and will be going up to 20 this year.

Mr. Raymond spoke about how when Soledad was on assignment after Hurricane Katrina, she met a girl named Alexia who “so needed someone to pay for school.” Soledad came home and told Brad that they would be paying for her education and he did not argue, knowing that with his wife, ‘no’ would not be an option. Ms. O’Brien then spoke about how “education is the great equalizer” and honored two young women, Naya Buckley and Erica Ramos, who are part of the Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond Foundation and will be graduating and have graduated from their respective colleges, citing “women see ourselves in these young women - someone stepped in to help us.”

Connie Chung then returned to the stage to introduce Helen LaKelly Hunt, Founding Mother of The New York Women’s Foundation® and Chair Emerita. Ms. Hunt honored the next couple, Ginny and Sean Day, whom she said “none of us would have been here tonight without.” Ms. Day became President of the first Board of The NYWF after Ms. Hunt was named Chair. Ms. Hunt stated that she volunteered to be the Chair of the Board but had no experience and self-admittedly did a ‘lousy job’ – “Ginny, with a Harvard Business degree then quietly stepped forward, willing to create a blueprint, allowing The NYWF to, in time, become a leader among the 160 women’s funds that now exist around the globe.”

Mr. and Mrs. Day then took the stage, thanking The NYWF for honoring them, “we are so proud to be associated with this amazing engine for the empowerment of women in New York City.” In 1985 when the first group joined together, they learned that “women-led households were disproportionately poor in New York City, but despite poverty the women were strong, keeping their families together and working towards a better life.” This fact created the notion that “women could and should help other women.” Ms. Day recalled the difficulties the Foundation first faced during its inception: strong personalities coming together and asking potential donors for money; yet they raised $50,000 in their first year 1987, and then $1 million the following year plus pledges for $300,000 more. “When we started,” stated Ms. Day, “only 3% of all philanthropic dollars went to programs helping women, and while The NYWF has made great strides, that number today is just under 10% - making the work of The NYWF as vital today as it was when we first started.”

Following the four honorees, Sarah Jones, Tony Award® Winning Playwright and Performer was then introduced by Connie Chung. Ms. Jones brought a coat rack with her onstage, putting different items on and portraying different ethnicities, ages and types of women, all speaking about The New York Women’s Foundation®. While portraying a Jewish grandmother, quick-talking Latina woman, Chinese immigrant, Indian woman and young feminist, Ms. Jones covered many topics affecting women including diversity, education, and investing in the future and cited the “importance of The NYWF on the history of New York City.”

Ana Oliveira, President & CEO of The NYWF took the stage and spoke about the disproportionate impact of The NYWF for its size; its impact is significantly larger. Ms. Oliveira stated that, “investing in women lifts up women, families and communities,” one of the best NYWF partnerships is “when we invest in leaders and organizations.” During the 2009 recession The NYWF created an initiative called RISE-NYC! and even during a slow recovery, The NYWF has had 473 women able to obtain employment and 61% of those are full time jobs. The NYWF created 59 new jobs and preserved 89. Although there has been great success in the past 25 years, there is “much work ahead – girls need an incredible amount of opportunity and support,” said Ms. Oliveira, “I am excited for the next years and grateful for the past 25.”

Lastly, The New York Women’s Foundation® Board Chair, Anne Delaney then took the stage, honoring the “special night to celebrate and meet grantee partners.” “There are a lot of good ideas and good energy generated around the Foundation from partnerships, committees and donors,” said Ms. Delaney. Connie Chung was then brought to the stage and toasted The New York Women’s Foundation for “all [they] have done for the past 25 years, supporting 5.5 million women and girls,” and stated “don’t stop!”


Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond

Soledad and Brad founded the Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation in 2012. The mission of the foundation is to provide young women with the opportunity and resources to successfully pursue an education, recognizing the barriers that many young women face when trying to attend and finish college.

Ginny & Sean Day

Ginny, acting as the first Board President of The New York Women’s Foundation®, helped to shape the course of The Foundation. 25 years later, she and her husband, Sean, continue to support philanthropies that help their local community and improve people’s lives through education – the keys to giving people an opportunity to create a better life.

ABOUT NYWF: The New York Women’s Foundation® is a cross-cultural alliance of women, serving as a voice for women and a force for change. The Foundation identifies innovative organizations that are effecting change in the communities they serve for women and girls. The NYWF strategically funds organizations and programs that move women, girls and families toward long-term economic security through individual transformation and systemic change, mobilizing leaders and community partners as philanthropists and change agents. The NYWF funds programs that promote economic security and justice, anti-violence and safety; and health, sexual rights and reproductive justice for women and girls in New York City.

For further information about The New York Women’s Foundation®, please visit