Inside The Dominican Women’s Development Center Gala

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Last week, the Dominican Women’s Development Center, the largest independent Dominican founded organization in the United States,held their 30th Anniversary Gala at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where they honored composer, lyricist, and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, and other notable people, including philanthropist Jean Shafiroff.

The gala raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund the center’s diverse programs for Latina women and families of the Washington Heights community.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father Luis A. Miranda, Jr. introduced Rosita Romero, DWDC Executive Director, who danced her way on to the stage before offering a rallying speech, saying “Our evening’s theme is transforming lives, but the first life the DWDC transformed was mine.” She spoke about the center’s achievements and how they have helped more than 11,000 individuals and families with support services, referrals and resources.

Lin-Manuel Miranda then came to the stage and joked, “I love Dominican women so much I married one,” before applauding the work of the DWDC for always “lifting up the community.” Throughout the evening, the DWDC also recognized exceptional individuals and corporations that have made their mark.

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Dr. Casilda Balmaceda, Board-Certified Neurologist and CEO of Neurology Associates, was presented with the Healthcare Leadership Award; Jean Shafiroff, Author and Philanthropist, was presented with the Outstanding Philanthropy Award; Daniel Kern, NYPD Police Officer, was presented with the Honorable Service Award; Marisol Martinez, Vice President, Channel Relationship Marketing, Charter Communications, was presented with the Visionary in Strategic Marketing and Communication Award; Jomari Goyso, Designer, Beauty Expert and Hairstylist, was presented with the Lifestyle Breakthrough Award; and Maria Terrero, Family Services Coordinator, Early Head Start, DWDC, was presented with the Founders Award.

An auction was then held, where people bid on luxury handbags including one by Oscar de la Renta, vacations and art work donated by Kate Shin from the Waterfall Mansion — where one of the bids was for $37,000.

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The Gala Chairs were Luz Miranda-Crespo and Sabine Poisson. The Gala Benefit Committee was Annette Malloy, Luz Bermudez, Maritza Santiago,Karen Kelley, Fermin Espinosa, Petra Cruz, Michelle Ester, Brenda Scott, and Rosita Romero.

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