Alex Gorsky, Amy Towers and Cookie Johnson

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Honorees Alex Gorsky, Amy Towers and Cookie Johnson. (Photo Credit: Getty for The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation)

*On Wednesday, February 20, 2013, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) announced that Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and consumer goods manufacturers, will be matching monetary donations to the Foundation from now until Mother’s Day, up to $1 million. This gift will support the Foundation as it works to eliminate pediatric AIDS and keep mothers and their babies around the world healthy.

The generous gift, which was announced at the first annual Global Champions of a Mother’s Fight Gala held in New York at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Wednesday, February 20, 2013, represents another step in the movement towards an “AIDS-free generation” and a sign of Johnson & Johnson’s continued commitment to the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Charles Lyons, Foundation president and CEO, says that Johnson & Johnson’s gift will go far in the Foundation’s efforts to keep mothers and babies safe and HIV-free.  “This gift is indicative of Alex Gorsky and Johnson & Johnson’s deep belief in our work to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies and advocating for the needs of children living with HIV, “he said.  “With their generous support, we’re one step closer to the beginning of the end of AIDS.”

In addition to honoring Johnson & Johnson for the company’s longtime leadership work on behalf of people living with HIV in the fight to end pediatric AIDS, the first annual EGPAF global gala also honored Cookie Johnson, philanthropist, child advocate, spokesperson for women’s health, and board member of the Magic Johnson Foundation; and Amy Towers, founder of the Nduna Foundation, for their unparalleled work in the fight to eliminate HIV/AIDS.

“Elizabeth was very instrumental in helping my husband and me to join the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Johnson said at the awards dinner.  “She encouraged us to fight not only for ourselves but for all of those who didn’t have a voice.  I’m grateful for the fight Elizabeth instilled in us and humbled to receive this prestigious honor.”

Over 300 philanthropists, corporate leaders, and media dedicated to creating an AIDS-free generation attended the event and enjoyed an evening filled with lavishness.  With a beautiful backdrop décor custom-designed by model Karlie Kloss and designer Jason Wu, guests enjoyed a globally inspired menu by Iron Chef and Founder of Chefs for Humanity Cat Cora as well as a special performance by two time Grammy Award winner Melanie Fiona who engagingly performed L.O.V.E. and her Grammy nominated hit Wrong Side of a Love Song.

During a captivating program moment Arianna Huffington led a thought provoking panel with the three honorees.  Other speakers included EGPAF board co-chair Willow Bay, president and CEO Chip Lyons, and Florence Ngobeni-Allen, mother, AIDS advocate, and EGPAF Global Ambassador from South Africa.

Other notable guests who enjoyed the exclusive event included Alex Gorsky, Tea Leoni, Nigel Barker, Ali Wentworth, Jake Glaser, Eugenia Silva, Fatima Ptacek, Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, Katie Findlay, Olympia Dukakis, Kate Wagner, Chloe Bridges, Mary Alice Stephenson, Richard Belzer, and more.

About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
EGPAF is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV/AIDS, and has reached more than 15 million women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies.  It currently works at more than 5,400 sites and in 15 countries to implement prevention, care, and treatment services; to further advance innovative research; and to execute global advocacy activities that bring dramatic change to the lives of millions of women, children, and families worldwide.  For more information, visit www.pedaids.org.

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Harry Belafonte to receive Shared Interest Lifetime of Social Justice & Leadership Award

harry belafonte

Harry Belafonte to receive Shared Interest distinguished Lifetime of Social Justice & Leadership Award. (Photo courtesy Shared Interest)

 *Shared Interest, a leading New York-based nonprofit social investment fund, will honor award-winning singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte, South African pop band Freshlyground, freedom fighter and social justice activist Father Michael Lapsley and JP Morgan, a leading global financial services firm, will receive the corporate award at Shared Interest’s Nineteenth Anniversary Awards Gala on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 6:00PM at Gotham Hall, New York City.

Distinguished U.S. and African leaders and top diplomats will gather for this celebratory annual event that recognizes leaders for their commitment and ongoing work towards economic democracy and development in southern Africa.  The black-tie affair will begin with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dessert.

“On the 19th anniversary of Shared Interest and South African democracy, we are extremely proud to recognize these extraordinary honorees for their commitment to building a just, peaceful and prosperous South Africa,” said Donna Katzin, executive director of Shared Interest.  “Their leadership is helping to transform the lives of economically disenfranchised South Africans today, and chart a path for the next generation.”

Award-winning artist and activist Belafonte will receive the Lifetime of Social Justice and Leadership Award for his lifelong commitment to working towards justice in South Africa and longstanding support for Shared Interest’s work.

Freshlyground, a chart-topping multiracial South African Afropop band will be honored with the Voices of the Next Generation Award.  Freshlyground, which collaborated with Shakira on the FIFA World Cup anthem “Waka Waka,” will be recognized for its efforts in giving back to the community through its social outreach programs and music.

Father Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest and freedom fighter, will receive the Promoting Healing, Reconciliation and Hope Award for his life’s work in the healing of memories of South Africans affected by apartheid – enabling victims and perpetrators to reconcile and reclaim their humanity.  Father Lapsley’s interpersonal and deeply spiritual practice complements Shared Interest’s work towards economic reconciliation and reconstruction in Southern Africa.

The awards dinner will honor JP Morgan with the Visionary Investment in South Africa’s Communities Award for its work in the field of impact investment and philanthropy.  At the awards gala, Shared Interest will highlight JP Morgan’s transformative initiatives and the financial organization’s guidance and support for Shared Interest’s guarantee fund to move banks to extend credit to black South Africans once considered “unbankable.”

The evening performance will feature Afropop music from honoree Freshlyground.   Following the gala, Freshlyground will perform at an after party geared towards young professionals to support Shared Interest’s Next Generation Campaign, which aims to catalyze investment in South and Southern Africa’s underserved communities for decades to come.  The After Party will be held from 9:30pm- midnight at Gotham Hall.

Caroline Clarke, executive editor of Black Enterprise and host of BE Business Report, will serve as evening host of the gala.  This year’s major corporate sponsors are South African Airways, Merck and Black Entertainment Television.  Gala corporate partners are Nielsen and Johnson & Johnson.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard