The United Nations Association of New York
2015 UN Day
Humanitarian Awards Dinner
Commemorates 70th UN Anniversary




From left: UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake; UNA-NY Executive Director Ann Nicol; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Madame Ban Soon-taek; Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri; UNA-NY Executive VP Robin van Puyenbroeck; UNA-NY President Abid Qureshi; UNA-NY Board Member Andrew Komaromi. | Photo: | Click on above photo for enlarged view

Diplomats, business leaders, local dignitaries and other distinguished guests gathered on October 22 at the J. W. Marriott Essex House in New York, when the United Nations Association of New York announced the honorees for its annual Humanitarian of the Year awards, during a celebratory UN Day gala dinner which commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations.

This year the gala honored several Humanitarians of the Year: Marco Bizzarri, President & CEO of Gucci and Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF. Also presented was the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015 that was given to Madame Ban Soon-taek, spouse of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

This year's selected UN Day honorees were recognized for their extraordinary commitment to gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls throughout the world, and corporate social responsibility.

Abid Qureshi, president of the United Nations Association of New York, announced the theme of the 2015 annual award given by UNA-NY as 2015 and Beyond: Education and Equality for All.

"Each year the board and selection committee of UNA-NY considers individuals who have accomplished important strides in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals," said Qureshi. "The leadership and dedication of Marco Bizzarri to gender equality, women's empowerment and education make him an inspiration to all of us and a worthy recipient of our annual award."

Corporate responsibility has always been a business imperative for Gucci and for its parent company Kering. Gucci's longstanding commitment to education and gender equality is exemplified by its unique partnerships.

"As a company we care about values that go well beyond individual products," said Gucci CEO & President Marco Bizzarri. "This is not because we are obliged to do this, but because we feel that it is the right thing to do. And we recognize the capacity we have to stimulate a discussion and bring awareness to these critical themes.

"We stand at a point in history when unprecedented social change is possible, and we know that girls and women play an essential role in this," he continued. "Through our 10 year partnership with UNICEF, through our CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign and now through our partnership with Global Citizen, Gucci is committed to seeing a world where all girls and women are empowered with equal opportunities for education, health and justice."

In the moments before collecting his award, Mr. Bizzarri was introduced by John Legend, the Grammy Award winning musical artist who is also an activist and CHIME FOR CHANGE advisory board member.

Anthony Lake, representing UNICEF, was honored at the dinner for the commitment and efforts of UNICEF to improve and transform the lives and future of children everywhere, especially the most disadvantaged.

UNICEF is committed to promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child. Together with partners, UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action. Action that strengthens children's rights and their survival, development and protection.

Madame Ban Soon-taek received a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing her 40 years of work and involvement in advancing the cause of women and children, in promoting women's empowerment, and for her activity in the UN Women for Peace Association.

UN Women for Peace is dedicated to activities that promote tolerance and respect toward the creation of a peaceful world. Founded in 2008, the UNWFPA helps advance goals of academic and charitable organizations which provide opportunities for women to partake in the global peace building process, through social, cultural, educational and gender empowerment programs. It is also committed to the prevention of violence against women and girls.

This celebration the 70th anniversary of the United Nations found a special highlight in the appearance of Adam Gyorgy, the concert pianist and Steinway artist who kicked off the evening with some passionate keyboard fireworks.

The evening also featured an auction of another exclusive and dazzling creation by international artist and potter Miranda Thomas — the lovely Golden Dove vase in a limited edition of twenty, representing the dove of peace. It represents a dove which is, in her words, "determined and committed, passionately believing in its mission… It represents each of us, facing the many challenges ahead. The dove is emblematic of all our hard work towards peace," she said about her work.

And we were very pleased to have on hand the two winners of our inaugural Summer Scholars program — Stephanie Mikkelson and Tyler Bird — each of whom presented brief videos of their experience in the program while working in Lesotho and Paraguay. (To find out more about them and to view their Summer Scholars blogs and videos, click here.)

To them, and to all of our gala attendees and sponsors, who generously continue to acknowledge and support the important work of the UN, we express our deepest gratitude for their ongoing passion and commitment.

The United Nations Association of New York is the host UN chapter of UNA-USA. It is dedicated to supporting the principles and vital work of the United Nations, strengthening the UN system and promoting constructive U.S. leadership.

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