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    Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon 
    Celebrating the Power of Refugee Youth

    Thursday, May 4, 2017
    Cipriani 42nd Street
    New York City
    Reception: 11:30 a.m. | Luncheon: 12 p.m. 


    This year, we will honor refugee youth who have channeled their talent and energy to become leaders working with and inspiring others to become part of a global solution to the refugee crisis.

    Seldom consulted, frequently overlooked, and often unable to fully participate in decision making, the talents, energy, and potential of refugee youth (15-24 years old)—remain largely untapped. As WRC has seen, youth often have the information and answers to affect change, but lack the resources and/or vehicles to make that change happen. This is where WRC and the global community can and must come in. This year’s luncheon will acknowledge and highlight the ways in which youth are change-makers—for themselves, their communities, and for the global community at large.



    About the Luncheon

    Each year, approximately 500 leaders in business, media, philanthropy, government, and humanitarian agencies join us in support of displaced women, children, and youth worldwide. At this year’s luncheon, we will honor refugee youth for their groundbreaking work in support of fellow refugees, as well as a corporate leader for their contribution to improving programs and services for those uprooted by conflict and crisis.

    The Voices of Courage Awards are presented annually to resilient, 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.

    Voices of Courage Award Honorees

    Yusra Mardini

    Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee now living in Berlin, competed as a member of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team in the summer Olympics in 2016. Now the youngest UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador, she works to advocate on behalf of refugees, and was the youngest participant at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Swimming still plays an important role in her life, and she is currently training for the 2020 Olympics. 

    Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, Yusra is unable to join us in person.

    halima muhamud mohamedHalima Mohamud Mohamed

    Halima is a young Somali woman living in the Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda. She works as a youth ambassador in the camp and mobilizes other youth to engage in sports, cultural dances, and community work. She helps the most vulnerable in her community, particularly survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). She’s a Refugee Ambassador for UNHCR, and has participated in Global Refugee Youth Consultations led by WRC and UNHCR. She is also the vice chairperson for Community Technology Access, where youth are trained in computer use.

    malual bol kiirMalual Bol Kiir

    Malual, a South Sudanese refugee in Uganda, founded the African Youth Action Network (AYAN), which recruits Ugandan national youths and refugee youths to work together as agents of peace and conflict prevention. He participated in WRC’s and UNHCR’s Global Refugee Youth Consultations that brought together youth from 22 countries to discuss the most pressing challenges they face and their recommendations on how to best address these challenges. Malual is also a member of the advisory panel of experts for the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015) mandated progress study on youth, peace, and security.


    chelsea clinton 200Chelsea Clinton

    Chelsea Clinton is the Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation. She works across a number of the Foundation’s programmatic areas including:  No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, working to advance the full participation of women and girls; the Clinton Global Initiative University, a program focused on empowering the next generation of change-makers; the Day of Action program, which she founded; and various health programs.

    Chelsea also serves on the boards of the Clinton Foundation’s affiliated Clinton Health Access Initiative, the School of American Ballet, the Africa Center and the Weill Cornell Medical College.  She is the Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the Of Many Institute at NYU. She currently teaches at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and previously worked at McKinsey & Company and Avenue Capital.

    She lives with her husband Marc, their daughter Charlotte, and their son Aidan in New York City.

    Amina J. MohammedAmina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General

    Ms. Amina J. Mohammed was Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from November 2015 to December 2016, where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action, protecting the natural environment and conserving resources for sustainable development.

    Prior to this, she served as Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning, where she was instrumental in bringing about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Before joining the UN, Ms. Mohammed worked for three successive administrations in Nigeria, serving as Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals, providing advice on issues including poverty, public sector reform and sustainable development, and coordinating programmes worth $1 billion annually for MDG-related interventions.

    She is also an Adjunct Professor in Development Practice at Columbia University, and serves on numerous international advisory boards and panels, including the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the African Women’s Millennium Initiative, Girl Effect, 2016 African Union Reform and the ActionAid International Right to Education Project. Ms. Mohammed began her 35-year career in the private sector with architects and engineers responsible for the project management of health, education and public sector buildings.

    Born in 1961, and educated in Nigeria and the UK, Ms. Mohammed is married with six children.

    Fadia ThabetFadia Thabet

    Fadia Thabet is a Yemeni woman who, after her university studies, worked with the Danish Refugee Council/UNICEF and other international organizations in her native country to assist children impacted by the decades-long civil war. Her support was directed in particular toward the psycho-social rehabilitation of child soldiers, as well as young girls who were victims of forced child marriage. Because she was prepared to work with children from all communities – including the opposition Houthis ethnic group – she incurred the wrath of the ruling party and left her homeland. After doing studies in Minnesota, Fadia now seeks to learn about peacebuilding and conflict transformation, and hopes to work in support of women’s engagement in peace processes and post-war reconstruction in the Middle East.

    Corporate Leadership Award

    airbnb logo 200Airbnb

    Airbnb, the worldwide accommodations leader, has shown an unwavering and exemplary commitment to refugees. The company’s mission to support the global community is reflected in its commitment to supplying relief workers places to stay through its philanthropic credit program, its offer to supply free, short-term housing to 100,000 refugees and internally displaced people, and its partnerships and financial support to NGOs. Airbnb’s leadership in its support of the worldwide refugee crisis distinguishes the company as a leader among corporations and a true voice of courage.


    sonita 200Sonita Alizadeh

    Sonita is an Afghan rapper and activist. When she was a young girl, her family fled from Afghanistan to Iran to escape the violence and persecution under the Taliban’s oppressive rule. In Iran, she learned how to read and write at an NGO for Afghan refugees, while working as a cleaner to support her family. As a teenager she began writing poetry to express her feelings about the inequalities she saw around her. Although it was illegal to be a solo female musician, her poetry soon morphed into songwriting and then rap.

    When she was 16 years old, her family back in Afghanistan wanted Sonita to return so they could sell her into marriage, as is tradition. Devastated, Sonita wrote a song, “Daughters for Sale,” about early forced marriage. With the help of an Iranian filmmaker, the rap was made into a music video that was a hit on YouTube, and helped launch her music and activist career. Now a high school student in Utah, Sonita raps about early marriage, women’s and girls’ rights, and building a more peaceful world. Her message is reaching the highest levels of global leadership and civil society, and her story and vision has been shared worldwide.

    refugeeorchestraproject 795

    Refugee Orchestra Project

    The Refugee Orchestra Project brings together instrumentalists and singers whose family and friends have come to the U.S. to escape violence and persecution in their homelands. The project was conceived by conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, who realized in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis that many of her own closest colleagues and friends were not aware that she and many others like her had come to the U.S. as refugees seeking asylum from war and other crises. The Refugee Orchestra Project’s music demonstrates the important role that refugees from around the world have played in our country’s culture and society. Learn more at Refugee Orchestra Project.

    Photo Exhibit

    lynsey addario phot

    Lynsey Addario - Finding Home

    Since September 2016, photographer Lynsey Addario has been following four Syrian refugees as they navigate the difficulties of raising children while displaced. All four women learned of their pregnancies on the road and none expected to deliver in a refugee camp, far from the homes they fled. These women are among the more than 1,000 refugees who gave birth in Greek refugee camps in 2016 alone. In a year-long multimedia project, TIME is chronicling the challenges and uncertainty that these women and their families face in a world that is increasingly hostile to refugees. Select photos from the project are displayed around the room.


    Premier Sponsor
    Martha Gallo

    Principal Sponsor
    Annabelle Bexiga and Christine McConnell
    Bloomberg Philanthropies
    JPMorgan Chase

    Major Sponsor
    Dina Dublon
    Jocelyn Cunningham and Deloitte & Touche
    The Frances Lear Foundation
    Mimi Frankel
    Goldman Sachs
    Clay Kirk

    BGC Partners, Inc.
    Elizabeth Learson Daniels
    Julie Daum
    Barbara McIntyre Hack and Regina Peruggi
    E. Carol Hayles
    Lily Safra
    Microsoft Corporation
    Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
    PepsiCo, Inc.
    Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts
    TD Bank
    Thomson Reuters
    TP ICAP Data & Analytics
    Sandra Sennett Tully

    Joy Bunson
    Fidelity Charitable
    Jodie Eastman
    Barbara and Stephen Friedman
    Global Village Fund
    Anne Bianchi Gunderson Foundation Trust
    Marie Hancock
    Margaret Smith

    Gerry Cunningham & Mary Lacasse
    Laurie and Jay Mandelbaum
    Jane and Ron Olson
    Jane Randel
    Elizabeth Sallett
    Diane Sinti
    Ivana Stolnik
    Deborah Tolman
    Barry L. & Jan R. Zubrow Foundation

    E. Sherrell Andrews Kuhbach
    Lori Bassman
    Ann Borowiec
    Emily Cavanagh
    Steve Cutler and Wendy Zimmerman
    Susan Dickler
    Gail Furman
    Ellen and Bill Kealy 
    John Kocjan
    Marianne Lake
    Marjorie Magner
    Judith Mayotte
    Virginia Millhiser
    Nancy Rubin 
    Catherine Shimony
    Edward Sperling
    Leila Maw Straus
    Parinaz Vahabzadeh

    Linda Addison
    Mulan Ashwin
    Emily Baugher
    Virginia Botelho
    Stacy Brandom
    Caren Brustein
    Bill Buscher
    Dawn Calabia
    Karen Chaplin
    Betty Chen
    Nuno Crisostomo
    Katharine Crost
    Nasreen Davidson
    Virginia Decker
    Shauna Denkensohn
    Lisa and Joe Dimona
    Linda D’Onofrio
    Catherine Dumait-Harper
    Elizabeth Ferris
    Joan Gambro
    Susan Geisenheimer
    Linda Gottlieb
    Sara Greenwood
    Lee Gruzen
    Susan Harris
    Paula Hawkins
    Karen Olin Heimann
    Lucile Herbert
    Carol Hymowitz
    Susan Jonas
    Miranda Kaiser
    Ann Kaplan
    Amy Kates
    Terrie Koles
    Sarah Kovner
    Sandra Krause
    Yong Kwok
    Deborah Landesman
    Alison Lankenau
    Rachel Levitt
    Nicholas Lomasney and Gwen O’Donnell
    Bette and Winston Lord
    Doris Meister
    Monica Menelle-Kinberg, PhD.
    Elizabeth McCaul
    Judith McElnea
    Marilyn Nissenson
    Lou Rauchenberger
    Hazel Reitz
    Debbie A. Rosenberg
    Angelica Rudenstine
    Dora Schriro
    Heidi Schulman and Mickey Kantor
    Priscilla Shanks
    Scati Shashank
    Donald Steinberg
    Catherine Sykes
    Robert Tessler
    The Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation
    Debra Weiser
    World Learning
    Maria Zazzera


    Additional support provided by:
    Sheppie Abramowitz
    Joan Almond
    Lisa Caputo
    Debra Cianciolo
    Jo Ellen Finkel, M.D.
    Linda V. James
    Bonnie E. Kaplan, CPA
    Carmen O’Shea
    Jill Schuker
    Dr. Amra Spahic-Musakadic
    Anthea Stratigos
    Caroline Wamsler
    Harriet L. Weissman

    As of May 1, 2017

    Luncheon Host Committee

    Liz Appel
    Jocelyn Cunningham
    Elizabeth L. Daniels
    Martha Gallo
    Carol Hymowitz

    Jurate Kazickas
    Maggie Lear
    Christine A. McConnell
    Atiya Weiss
    Carrie Welch

    Journal Advertisements

    Your ad will be displayed in the printed journal and on-screen in the luncheon slideshow. The deadline for receiving ads is Friday, April 14, 2017. Please note that purchasing an advertisement does not include a seat at the luncheon.

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

    For more information and to purchase an ad, please contact Elise Newman at 212.580.9228 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Find out about past Voices of Courage Luncheons and honorees

    2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010