New York (October 22, 2019) – The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) honored Robert F. Smith, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners; Cynthia Germanotta, President and Co-Founder of the Born This Way Foundation; and Harlem Capital at its Access: Health Gala on October 21, 2019 at Cipriani 25 Broadway. The awards recognized each honoree’s investments in creating a more equitable world.
The event brought together 350 guests for a lively and inspiring celebration of visionary leadership and progress toward achieving health equity. An additional $200,000 was raised onsite for a total of more than $1 million to support NYAM’s work. The evening was punctuated by energetic and moving performances by two youth performance groups based in Harlem, Vy Higginsen’s Sing Harlem Choir and the Marching Cobras Drumline and Danceline.
“We are all here because we have shared beliefs,” said Academy President Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS. “We are all here because we know there are inequities in health, and we intend to do something about it. It’s what we do at NYAM, every day. We tackle barriers that prevent everyone from living a healthy life.”
NYAM honored Mr. Smith as the 2019 Health Equity Champion for his commitment to addressing cancer disparities in the African American community, among many other philanthropic activities. The event featured an exclusive conversation between Dr. Salerno and Mr. Smith on his life, his beliefs and his philanthropic vision.
“I think my role is to figure out the platforms that can actually liberate the human spirit,” Mr. Smith said. “When I think about music, when I think about philanthropy in health care, when I think about teaching young people how to code, exposing young people to the outdoors … what I want to do is liberate their spirits, because there is nothing more beautiful than a liberated human spirit. So that’s really what my goal is.”
NYAM honored Ms. Germanotta with the Bold & Brave Award for her work to support the mental and emotional wellness of young people by putting their needs, ideas and voices first. The Born This Way Foundation, which she launched with her daughter Lady Gaga in 2012, has reached tens of thousands of young people worldwide.
“It’s inspiring to be aligned with an organization that envisions health equity,” Ms. Germanotta said. “We couldn’t agree more, and we believe there is no health without mental health.”
Lady Gaga added on Twitter, “Thank you @NYAMNYC for honoring @BTWFoundation with your Bold and Brave award for our work in supporting the mental and emotional wellness of young people.”
NYAM honored the four founders of the venture capital firm Harlem Capital, Brandon Bryant, John Henry, Henri Pierre-Jacques and Jarrid Tingle, with the Rising Leader Award for their dedication to changing the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over the next two decades.
“There are parallels between [NYAM’s] work and our work at Harlem Capital, since we’re focused on solving the racial wealth gap,” Mr. Tingle said. “We’re focused on investing in minority entrepreneurs. We believe they’ll be able to hire people of color, build their own wealth, and then reinvest in their communities.”
Naomi Yané, reporter for WRNN-TV and FiOS News, served as host. The Gala Chairs were James and Kerianne Flynn.
The Gala was generously sponsored by James and Kerianne Flynn, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bristol Myers-Squibb Foundation, Heritage Provider Network, KKR, Willie and Lana Woods, AIG, JP Morgan Chase, Mia Jung, Stanley A. Lefkowitz, PhD, Montefiore, NYU Dentistry, Northwell Health, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, Kimberly and Paul Tanico, Anonymous Friend of NYAM, EY, the New England Patriots Foundation, and Advent Capital Management, LLC.
About The New York Academy of Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) tackles the barriers that prevent every individual from living a healthy life. NYAM generates the knowledge needed to change the systems that prevent people from accessing what they need to be healthy such as safe and affordable housing, healthy food, healthcare and more. Through its high-profile programming for the general public, focused symposia for health professionals, and its base of dedicated Fellows and Members, NYAM engages the minds and hearts of those who also value advancing health equity to maximize health for all.