SAFE HORIZON’S 21ST ANNUAL CHAMPION AWARDS HONORED THE HUNTING GROUND, FEATURING MISS AMERICA 2015 KIRA KAZANTSEV AND ALAN CUMMING
May 12, 2016 (New York, NY) – Safe Horizon, the nation’s largest victim services agency, yesterday held the 21st Annual Champion Awards at The Grand Hyatt in New York City. The gala honored individuals who exemplify Safe Horizon’s vision of building a society free of family and community violence and raised more than 1 million dollars to help the organization provide critical programs and services, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.
“We are truly grateful not only to have honored such incredible and well-deserving Champions this year, but to also have recognized the brave survivors who have come through our doors,” said Ariel Zwang, Safe Horizon CEO. “This gala helps Safe Horizon to raise critical funds that enables us to further our mission and deepen effective services for the 250,000 lives we touch every year.”
The night opened with a powerful video that highlighted the stories of survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and other crimes, as well as homeless youth, along with their Safe Horizon advocates who helped them overcome their darkest moments. One such survivor, Shandra Woworuntu, a former Safe Horizon client who escaped a harrowing human trafficking situation moved the crowd with her remarks during the event.
“No one deserves to be a human trafficking victim. I did not deserve it. But, unfortunately, it’s a sad reality that nearly 17,500 people are trafficked to the United States annually. Thankfully Safe Horizon is there for survivors like me. Safe Horizon not only helped me when I needed it most, but as part of their Voices of Hope program, empowered me to become an advocate so no other woman has to face this terrible form of abuse. I’ve since founded my own organization to help human trafficking survivors, I am an active member of the White House’s U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and most importantly, I have my freedom. I am forever grateful to Safe Horizon for providing me with the services and support I needed,” said Woworuntu.
The Hunting Ground’s Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering were honored with the Voice of Courage Award for their work to bring attention to the epidemic of sexual assault and rape on America’s college campuses and the efforts by college officials to suppress these cases. The film highlights one of the many issues on which Safe Horizon is a leader in victim advocacy and support.
“When we embarked on creating this film, we never could have imagined that it would help usher in a change of shifting the blame from victim to perpetrator and bring the issue of sexual assault on college campuses to the forefront. But none of this would be possible without the strong foundation that victim services agencies like Safe Horizon have set through their advocacy efforts. It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by such a powerful and leading voice in the field of victim’s advocacy and support,” said The Hunting Ground’s Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering.
During her remarks, Ziering gave a powerful speech about victim blaming and the lack of support survivors are often met with:
“…I cry for my father. I cry for the college sophomore…who told me she didn’t want to tell her parents [she was sexually assaulted] because she didn’t want to make them sad. I cry for all the women and men I’ve met over the past five years who were met with silence and blame when all they did was report a crime in order to stop it from happening to someone else…”
In addition to The Hunting Ground, Safe Horizon honored Stephen and Carolyn McCandless with the Humanitarian Award. Mr. McCandless dedicated his award to his sister who was a victim of domestic homicide. Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, IBM and President, IBM International Foundation, Stanley Litow was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for his tireless efforts to support Safe Horizon in moving victims from crisis to confidence.
Hosting the night was Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev who herself is a survivor of domestic violence and serves as an official ambassador for Safe Horizon’s anti-domestic violence campaign #PutTheNailinIt. The campaign was brought to life at the 21st Annual Champion Awards as attendees were able to visit the official nail bar to paint their left ring fingernail purple to signify their vow to help end domestic violence.
“When I began competing in the Miss America competition, I was told to choose a platform. As a result, I made a deeply personal choice that would not only heal myself but let other survivors know they are not alone. Together, our voices became louder and we have achieved things beyond my wildest dreams. I am so honored to work with Safe Horizon to not only bring awareness to domestic violence but to take action and support survivors, like myself, in their time of need,” said Kira Kazantsev.
Alan Cumming, 2015 Champion honoree and actor, made a surprise appearance, via video, during the latter part of the evening to encourage attendees to break last year’s fundraising goal. And we did!
Attendees included the 2016 Champion Awards Event Committee which consist of:
- President of the Underwear Group, PVH, Cheryl Abel-Hodges;
- Chief Human Resources Officer, Morgan Stanley, Jeffrey S. Brodsky;
- EVP, Integrated Global Marketing at Calvin Klein, Michael DeLellis;
- Vice Chair & Treasurer, Safe Horizon Board of Directors, Pamela N. Hootkin;
- Safe Horizon Board of Directors, Joann Lang;
- Senior Sales Executive at Pandora, Arriana Marion;
- Founder, Steve Parrish Consulting Group, LLC, Steven C. Parrish;
- Principal at Ernst & Young, Sonia Sande;
- And Financial Advisor/Account Vice President of Investments, UBS Financial Services Inc. Mark C. Smith.
Assets for public use:
- Photos from the 21st Annual Champion Awards are available at this link.
- Video of survivors and their advocates played during the 21st Annual Champion Awards gala is available at this link.
About Safe Horizon
Safe Horizon envisions a society free of family and community violence. Safe Horizon is the largest victims’ services agency in the United States, touching the lives of more than 250,000 children, adults, and families affected by crime and abuse throughout New York City each year. Safe Horizon offers assistance to victims through 57 program locations, including shelter, in-person counseling, legal services, and more. Since 1978, Safe Horizon has provided victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, rape and sexual assault, as well as homeless youth and families of homicide victims, with a wide range of comprehensive support. Safe Horizon’s programs also partner with governmental and other community agencies to offer additional assistance, including finding resources for those living outside New York City. Safe Horizon also advocates for policies on a local, state, and national level on behalf of those affected by violence and abuse.