Dress For Success Worldwide

(Left to right) Dress For Success Worldwide CEO Joi Gordon, singer Jordin Sparks, Pam Weidmann, honoree Jodi Sparks, Elena Kiam, honoree Sharon Meade, Robin Meade ((Photo Credit: Ilya Savenok)

*Over 1,000 festively dressed guests attended this year’s Dress for Success gala on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at the Grand Hyatt New York hotel in Grand Central Station to celebrate the seasons of change.  Attendees travelled through the courageous transitions Success Ambassadors endured from season to season on their road to recovery and triumph over their adversities.

In accordance with this year’s gala theme “A Reason in Each Season for Change” — change that the seasons bring and embraces the arduous adventure of a future coming to fruition — the best dressed charitable organization experienced yet another victorious season and hopeful future.  “Each year, Mother Nature bestows us with four opportunities to begin anew, each season preparing us for the next, proposing challenges and triumphs with the promise of a bountiful future,” stated Dress for Success Worldwide Chief Executive Officer Joi Gordon.

During a deluxe dinner guests dined on Salmon Three Ways (grilled salmon with saffron essence, smoked salmon Carpaccio and salmon caviar) (First Course); Dual Entrée of Filet Mignon Rossini “al la mode,” Madeira sauce and citrus shrimp, white truffle duchess, broccolini, red and golden beets (Entrée); chilled lemon, vanilla parfait, friandise (Dessert) and wines by Diageo.  Another deliciously funtastic event taking place during the evening was the signature yellow balloon happening in which individual guests pledged their monetary support.

David Meister returned as the designing maestro of the evening and dressed all 16 women who were made up by platinum sponsor and make-up maven Bobbi Brown and sparkled from jewelry designer to the affluent, lia sophia.  These women have proved their dedication to remain on the path to professional success and to do what is necessary to get there.  One such woman who has been with Dress for Success throughout the many seasons of her professional life — from being unemployed and searching, to recently employed and adjusting, to gainfully employed and succeeding — is Mishol Randolph who was the evening’s keynote speaker.

During her moving message, Randolph spoke of a past riddled with drug addiction, incarceration, homelessness and separation from her loved ones which she endured from her teenage years until she began the process of recovery. With the confidence, knowledge and new skills that she gained from Dress for Success, she was recently hired by Erie Elite NBA D League Basketball, the Erie Bayhawks, as an account executive.

Keynote Ambassador Mishol was joined by 15 other Dress for Success 2013 Success Ambassadors: LaViette Carse, Belinda Copeland, Mary Cosme, Valerie DeGraffe, Juanita Evans, Mayetha Johnson, Maurece Jones, Barbara Joyner, Phumelele Kunene, Denise Middleton, Amela Parker, Yvrose Phillipe, Liliana Putra, Linda Valentin and Sylvia Vitale.  These women have also proven their dedication to remain on the path to professional success and to do what is necessary to get there.  The courageous chronicles of these women served as a guide as attendees learned how each of the client ambassadors has transformed throughout their personal and professional quests for success.

“The stories that these women will share during our gala are just 16 of the 650,000 that we have been a part of shaping since Dress for Success began in 1997, but represent the undeniably determined and dedicated character of our women,” added Gordon.  “We hope that through this event that everyone in attendance will find a reason in each season for change, and experience how their support of Dress for Success helps make each of our women’s potential future a reality.”

Nobody knows what it takes to help to turn another’s hopeful potential into a tangible reality quite like a mother.  Jodi Sparks, mother to singer Jordin Sparks, and Sharon Meade, mother of lead HLN news anchor Robin Meade, were also honored during the gala’s signature “Toast to Our Mothers” dedication presented by lia sophia, in recognition of the time and commitment that they devoted to raising such successful women.  Both Jordin and Robin were on hand to personally toast their mothers and co-present a specially designed piece of jewelry from lia sophia, one of the presenting sponsors of the event.

Dressed for Success Ambassadors

Dressed for Success Ambassadors with Dress for Success Worldwide CEO Joi Gordon (center) ((Photo Credit: Ilya Savenok)

Also honored this year was Aegis Media, the world’s leading focused media and digital communications group, and YSC, a global firm of business psychologists helping organizations achieve commercial success by releasing the power of their people. Accepting the award on behalf of Aegis was Doug Ray, president of Carat Global.  Neil Jacobs, managing director & head of YSC Americas, accepted the award for YSC.

A silent auction was held throughout the night and included such exclusive items as a MacBook Air Laptop Computer; two Tickets to the Tasting Table at a live taping of ABC’s THE CHEW with Clinton Kelly and Mario Batali; a $500 J Crew Gift Card with J Crew Bag and Personal Styling session at the local J Crew of choice; a Wine, Women and Shopping Party — a private party hosted at Stuart Weitzman where the top bidder can sip on cocktails and shop — among others.

The annual fundraiser benefits career development services to help women re-enter the workforce and achieve economic independence.  All of the funds raised during the sharing soiree will benefit the array of career development services that Dress for Success provides to their clients as each woman continues along her individual path to professional success.

The Dress for Success Something to Share Gala is presented by lia sophia, Diageo, FedEx, jcpenney, The Verizon Foundation, dressbarn and Jewell, with additional sponsorship support from Walmart, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Style Network, Robert Half International, YSC, Mondelez International, CBS Outdoor, City USA, ClearChannel Outdoor, GE, Grand Marnier, Posterscope, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Titan Outdoor, Van Wagner Communications, and Vector Media.

Helping others is always in fashion and Dress for Success extends appreciation to its fashionable event committee: Connie Garrido (gala chairperson), Posterscope; Francois de Gaspe Beaubien (executive chair), Zoom Media Group Inc.; Alexandra Wilkis-Wilson, Gilt Groupe; Barbara Cohen, Viacom; Dasha Braverman, Total Health Nutrients, Inc.; Deborah DeSantis, RBS; Erin Haggerty, Kellwood; Irene Moshouris, United Rentals Inc.; Karen Jacobson; Luca Lucarelli, La Bottega; Patricia Dugan, Corcoran Group Real Estate; Sarah Kanes, RBS; and Veronica Gledhill.  Kudos to donors who contributed to the lavish swag bags that always tops off the evening in grand style.

About Dress for Success
Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.  Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 120 cities in 13 countries.  To date, Dress for Success has helped more than 650,000 women work towards self-sufficiency. Visit www.dressforsuccess.org to learn more.

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