Last night we went to the Vital Voices 15th Annual Global Leadership Awards at the Kennedy Center to recognize Women's Leadership in an Insecure World. The ceremony emphasized injustices faced by women and girls and the necessity to empower them.
When Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes presented the Economic Empowerment Award, she praised her mother, Noel Holmes, for raising her to believe she should make a difference in the world; she supports female entrepreneurs as Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship so women around the world have the same opportunities she did, to do well by doing good.
Powerful cinematic video clips throughout the program revealed the honorees' stories of struggle and triumph; captivating speakers and presenters expressed the theme of spreading light. Here, Vital Voices Board chair Susan Davis and Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley.
Vital Voices emerged from an initiative in 1997 by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, who sent congratulations read by co-founder Melanne Verveer. Today, the NGO creates opportunities for community leaders to become global change-makers. We snapped CEO Alyse Nelson, right, with Women for Afghan Women executive director Manizha Naderi and Council on Foreign Relations' Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
Honoree Khamnim Latif, right, who received the Human Rights Award for her leadership of the Iraq NGO ASUDA, provided emergency aid to 5,000 women confronted by violence last year alone. She's with Raising Change founder Kathy LeMay and Vital Voices' Leslie Decker.
The 2016 honorees received Global Leadership Awards for their impact on the world's most critical challenges. Akanksha Hazari, winner of the Economic Empowerment Award, turned mobile phones in India into tools for low-income people to get access to social goods. She's surrounded by Kathleen Manatt, Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi, and Meridian International Center's Michelle Manatt.
Honoree Hafsat Abiola-Costello brought the audience to tears talking about her work in Nigeria since she was 19; her parents, both prominent politicians, were murdered for their views, and she carries on their legacy despite threats, helping survivors of Boko Haram and other terrorist attacks. She's with Vital Voices' Avan Shwany and her daughter Yasna.
Former honoree Kakenya's Dream founder Kakenya Ntaiya founded a girl's school in Kenya, and came in full Masai dress. She's surrounded by Office of the White House Counsel's Funmi Olorunnipa, Federal Trade Commission's Kawezya Burris, and PepsiCo's Prisca Bae.
The Post-Awards Reception filled the Kennedy Center's top floor with inspiring women who are leading change and dedicated girls who aim to continue this important work for the future. Here, The Phillips Collection director Dorothy Kosinski is bookended by Dafna Tapiero and her husband, Laurel Strategies CEO Alan Fleischmann.
Vital Voices invests in visionary leaders who are improving the world, creating platforms for women to be heard and fulfill their missions. Here, Board vice chair Sue Molina is bookended by Global Leadership Network's Karen Otazo and Yvette Woods.