Go to Events library

2018 Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon

Celebrating the Resilience of Refugee Women

Thursday, May 3, 2018
Cipriani 42nd Street
New York City
Reception: 11:30 a.m. | Luncheon: 12 p.m.
Missed this year? Check back soon for updates on the 2019 Voices of Courage Luncheon.

To purchase a ticket or table, click here.
If you are not able to attend, but would like to make a donation, click here.

About the Luncheon

The Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon is WRC’s major cultivation and fundraising event. Each year, approximately 500 leaders in business, media, philanthropy, government, and humanitarian agencies join us in support of displaced women, girls, and youth worldwide.

The Voices of Courage Awards are presented to resilient and resourceful individuals who have a personal and powerful story to tell about the challenges and triumphs experienced by the tens of millions of people who have been displaced by conflict and violence worldwide. This year, we are honored to celebrate the resilience of refugee women and the ways they are working to effect positive change for themselves and the world around them.

Voices of Courage Award Honorees

Majida Alaskary

Majida Alaskary is a Palestinian-Syrian who, as a youth with her family, fled the occupied Palestinian territories, eventually settling in Damascus, Syria. She went on to become a journalist; however, in 2016, out of concern for her safety as a result of her reporting, she was forced to flee her adopted home. Ms. Alaskary made her way to a refugee camp on Samos Island in Greece. Despite being granted asylum, a status allowing her to leave the camp at any time and begin a new life, she has chosen to remain and help other refugees who cannot leave.

Sake Jemelia Beda

Sake Jemelia Beda is a former refugee who, as a child, fled her home in South Sudan for Uganda, where she remained for 13 years. While in Uganda, Ms. Beda studied to become a nurse and midwife. Eventually, she was able to return to South Sudan to practice midwifery. She has gone on to become an instructor and travels across the continent to help train other midwives. She also serves as a reproductive health trainer in crisis areas and is a tutor at the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery. An ardent advocate for education, Ms. Beda is the sponsor of 10 schoolchildren in Uganda and seven in South Sudan.

Mugisha Willent

Mugisha Willent is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose family fled to western Uganda more than 16 years ago. Ms. Willent founded a program in her refugee settlement to help out-of-school girls, young mothers, and survivors of gender-based violence. She also serves as a UNHCR youth ambassador and has recently spoken at the UN in Geneva on behalf of her peers in Uganda to advocate for free movement in host countries, access to international travel documents, and parity in school fees between refugees and national students.


Ambassador Anne Anderson

Ambassador Anne Anderson was Ireland’s ambassador to the United States from 2013 to 2017, and the first woman to hold this position. Prior to that, she served as ambassador to the UN, EU, and France. Throughout her career, Ambassador Anderson has been a dedicated advocate for human rights, peacebuilding, fair employment, gender equality issues, and ensuring that women’s voices are elevated at negotiating tables. She is also a past chairwoman of the UN Commission for Human Rights.

Massachusetts State Representative Juana Matias

Massachusetts State Representative Juana Matias immigrated with her parents to the United States from the Dominican Republic at the age of five. Representative Matias, who is also a lawyer, has worked as an immigration attorney at Community Legal Aid and as a Justice AmeriCorps Legal Advocate for immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. She has also worked to represent unaccompanied minors in the Boston Immigration Court. Representative Matias is the first Latina immigrant elected to the Massachusetts State House and is now running for the U.S. Congress.

Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Ambassador Melanne Verveer served as the first United States Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. Appointed by President Obama, she coordinated foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic, and social advancement of women, traveling to nearly 60 countries. She worked to ensure that women’s participation and rights are fully integrated into U.S. foreign policy. Ambassador Verveer currently serves as the Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

Corporate Leadership Award


Starbucks has a long history of creating opportunity for all. Building on its U.S. efforts to hire Veterans, military spouses and Opportunity Youth, Starbucks is leading a global effort to employ 10,000 refugees by 2022. Starbucks has built partnerships with organizations around the world like International Rescue Committee, UK Refugee Council, the Tent Partnership for Refugees and No One Left Behind, an organization focused on supporting interpreters, personnel and their families who served alongside U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Musical Guest

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris, a 13-time Grammy Award-winner, has gained admiration as much for her eloquently straightforward songwriting as for her incomparably expressive singing. She is listed as one of VH1’s 100 Most Influential Women of Rock and Roll and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

In February, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. Long recognized for her commitment to righteous causes, she was instrumental in organizing “Concerts for a Landmine Free World” in the late 1990s and is an ardent defender of animal rights.

Luncheon Host Committee

Jocelyn Cunningham

Martha Gallo

Carol Hymowitz

Catherine LaCour

Carrie Welch

Ambassador Donald Steinberg

Journal Advertisements

Individuals and organizations are welcome to purchase space for an advertisement in our printed luncheon program and on-screen in the luncheon slideshow. The deadline for receiving ads is Friday, April 13, 2018.

Full-page ad at $5,000 (6½”w x 8”h)
Half-page ad at $2,500 (6½”w x 3 ¾”h)

Please note that purchasing an advertisement does not include a seat at the luncheon. For more information or to purchase an ad, please contact Samantha O’Keefe at 212.551.2966 or WRCevents@wrcommission.org.