Jean Shafiroff

On Wednesday, October 16, the Dominican Women’s Development Center, the largest independent Dominican founded organization in the United States, held its 31st Anniversary Gala at the New York Hilton, where they honored actress, dancer, and performer, Amara La Negra with the Outstanding Artist Award.

Mistress of Ceremony, Damaris Diaz, of Univision opened the gala with this year’s theme “Standing Shoulder to Shoulder to End all Violence Against Women” a re-affirmation of one of the most critical aspects of the feminist movement and one the Dominican Women’s Development Center has embraced from the start. The gala raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund the center's diverse programs for Latina women and families of the Washington Heights community.

Amara La Negra

Dr. Carmen M. Garcia-Albarran
Gala Chair Jean Shafiroff introduced Rosita Romero, DWDC’s Executive Director, who received a standing ovation for her 28 years of service to the Washington Heights community. Mrs. Romero gave a moving speech and asked guests to observe a moment of silence for women such as Gladys Ricart who was killed by a former boyfriend on her wedding day. Following her speech, she played a moving video from the Brides March Against Domestic Violence, which takes place annually to commemorate Gladys and all victims of domestic violence.

The nights honorees included Hope M.Field, The Coca Cola Company, who was presented with the Corporate Engagement Award; Dr. Carmen Garcia Albarran, Private Practice Pediatrician with the Outstanding Medical Practitioners Award; Karima Khawja, Univision, was presented with the Outstanding Media & Marketing Award; and Alana Cantillo, Charter Communications was presented with the Outstanding Communications Award.

An auction was then held where people bid on luxury handbags including one by Oscar de la Renta, vacations and artwork, and signed baseballs by baseball greats Carlos Beltran and Bernie Williams. Amara La Negra closed the gala with a heart-stopping performance which had the entire room on the dance floor.

Damaris Diaz

Hope M. Field
The Gala Chairs were Jean Shafiroff and Dr. Casilda Balmaceda. The Gala Co-Chairs were Martin Pena, Jannetta Malloy, Sabine Poisson and Gillian Harding. Benefit Committee Members were Luz Bermudez, Petra Cruz, Fermin Espinosa, Josefa Ruiz, Maritza Santiago, Nathalie Tejada, Carolina Encarnacion, and Rosita Romero.

Jean Shafiroff And Martin Shafiroff

The corporate sponsors for this year’s gala included MirRam Group, Hispanic Federation, New-York Presbyterian, Columbus University Medical Center, The Coca-Cola Company, Liberty Beverages, Inca Kola, Goya, Charter Communications, Somos, United Federation of Teachers, UPS, ADP, Univision, Healthfirst, Consulting Just For You and Cibao Pharmacy.

About the Dominican Women’s Development Center

The mission of DWDC is to empower all women and communities to advance gender equality and social justice. Since 1998 and with an uncompromised resolve, the DWDC has made tremendous strides to fulfil its mission to empower all women and communities to advance gender equality and social justice. Fueled by an unrelenting quest to see families and individuals realize their potential, the DWDC has been a compassionate source of hope and inspiration to countless women, children and households through programs and services that restore their dignity and self-esteem while encouraging the pursuit of possibilities far beyond their personal circumstance and socioeconomic conditions.

At their annual events, the DWDC is able to showcase some of the lives they are privileged to shape, and equally ecstatic about recognizing individuals who share our passion for service as well as honoring our selfless organization partners without whom the mission of changing lives cannot be achieved.

Thirty years is not just a DWDC milestone: it is the perfect embodiment of a collective community accomplishment. The DWDC believes in treating all people with dignity and respect, that promoting gender equality is fundamental to social justice, that all people have the right to opportunities and resources that support them in reaching their full potential. They believe in practicing holistic, culturally sensitive, inclusive and innovative community engagement. They are committed to serving all communities regardless of background gender, race, ethnicity, economic status, age, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or other identities, and believe in the power of advocacy for ourselves and their communities.

To continue to donate to Dominican Women’s Development Center’s go to

Photos Courtesy Of  Patrick McMullan / Aurora Rose / Getty Images