Inside UNICEF’s First San Francisco Gala

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A view inside the ballroom at the inaugural UNICEF Gala
A view inside the ballroom at the inaugural UNICEF Gala

Photo Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for UNICEF USA

On Saturday night, UNICEF in partnership with sponsor Valentino, hosted its first ever San Francisco gala. The organization was founded in 1946 by the United Nations to help meet the needs of children in post-war Europe and Asia. Today, UNICEF is a well-established nonprofit that promotes the wellbeing of children all over the world, particularly in developing countries. The northwest regional office of UNICEF USA put on Saturday’s gala at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. The CEO and president of UNICEF USA, Caryl Stern was at the event, along with 300 guests who raised nearly half a million dollars. The gala was chaired by Susanne Caballero and Nicholas A. Tedesco with committee members Elena Marimo Berk, Lisel Fay, Karla Gallardo, John Glass, Laurie Harden, John Jennison, Blair Palmer, Samantha Vinograd, Katrina Yulo and Dr. Janice Zakin.

Emily Brouwer
Emily Brouwer

Photo Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for UNICEF USA

During the moving program, Stern welcomed the crowd saying that despite media fatigue, people who want to help should not feel hopeless. “Our actions, no matter how seemingly insignificant, have the power to change a child’s future,” she reminded the stylish crowd. Emily Brouwer, the managing director of the northwest region of UNICEF USA shared the foundation’s incredible statistics. “Last year alone UNICEF ensured safe drinking water for 39 million people. UNICEF treated 3.4 million children for malnutrition in 71 countries and provided 11.7 million children in emergency settings with educational programing,” Brouwer said.

Ishmael Beah
Ishmael Beah

Photo Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for UNICEF USA

UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Ishmael Beah, was honored at the gala with the Spirit of Compassion Award. In a passionate thank you speech, Beah was candid. “The thing that changed my life was that somebody stopped, at some point, and decided to do something, not for themselves, but for someone else,” Beah said. “When you take on supporting UNICEF, you’re actually preserving humanity. Because when you support the most vulnerable members of society which are children, it means that you’re supporting women, you’re supporting fathers, you’re supporting communities, you’re supporting nations.”

Grace Yu, John Jennison and Katrina Yulo
Grace Yu, John Jennison and Katrina Yulo

Photo Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for UNICEF USA

San Franciscans who came out to support the cause included Ilya and Ewa Fushman (general partner at Index Venture and former head of product and development for Dropbox), Russ Grandinetti (SVP international consumer and Kindle at Amazon), Bryan and Tara Meehan (CEO, Blue Bottle Coffee), Jeff Weiner (CEO, LinkedIn) and Kendall Wilkinson (principal, Kendall Wilkinson Interior Design). DJ Eric Prydz made a special performance and guests were treated to a virtual reality bar of experiences that showcase what its like when UNICEF is out in the field.

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