The Greater New York Chapter of The Links, Incorporated celebrates its 70th anniversary

Photo Credit: Annie Watt

The Greater New York Chapter of The Links, Incorporated celebrated its 70th anniversary with a sparkling gala fundraiser on the evening of Sunday, April 7 at the iconic 583 Park Avenue event space. Hosted by Dr. Donna Jones, president, Greater New York Chapter of The Links, the sold-out event was aptly billed as the Diamonds and Pearls Gala, with more than 600 influencers from New York’s business, civic, social service and philanthropic communities in attendance.

The goal of the event was to raise funds and awareness for the Chapter’s work in the following areas: Services to Youth, the Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Human Services.

“This celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Greater New York Chapter of The Links is more than a culmination of tireless and dedicated service. It is a commencement of a new era for our beloved Chapter as we set the stage for 70 more years and beyond in friendship and in service,” says Dr. Jones.

From the crystal-embellished table numbers and ubiquitous white roses and hydrangeas, to the elegant string quartet and signature cocktails, the Diamonds and Pearls Gala was helmed by an outstanding Gala Committee with Katrina McGhee and Icema Gibbs serving as Co-Chairs. The Gala Committee also included the following GNY Links Members: Gina Bolden-Rivera, Calvina Bostick, Kalyn Johnson Chandler, Olga Dais, Nailah Flake-Brown, Kia Floyd, DeNora Getachew, Deborah “Debbie” Jackson, Ruth “Cookie” Jean, Tiffany Johnson, Jillian E. Joseph, Lynn Law, Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, Dr. Marcella Maxwell, Gerri Warren Merrick, Barbara North-Lightning, Racquel Oden, Cari Robinson, Janis Robinson, Tennille Robinson, Dominique Sharpton-Bright, Helen C. Shelton, Michelle D. Stent, Nanette L. Thomas, Deborah Whitfield and Linda Zango-Haley. Emmy® Award-winning CBS News correspondent, Michelle Miller Morial, also a member of GNY Links, was the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Fittingly enough, GNY Links Platinum Members Dr. Marcella Maxwell and Betty King Obiajulu were also on hand. Platinum Membership is the most prestigious ranking that can be achieved in the Links. GNY Links Alumnae Members also came to show their support. These included: Mary Ellen Arrington, Virginia Arrington, Grace Ingleton, Karen Selsey and Judy West.

The evening began with welcome remarks from Dr. Donna Jones, followed by greetings from the Links Vice Area Director Shuana Tucker-Simms, Ph.D. This was followed by a wonderful and allegorical address that praised the women of the GNY Links and their years of dedicated service from Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D. and National President of The Links, incorporated. The Rev. Dr. Elaine Flake, a member of the GNY Links, led the group in prayer, officially commencing the event.

The GNY Links Diamonds and Pearls Gala honored two distinguished women: the legendary Alma Rangel who paved the way for young Black students to gain coveted internships on Capitol Hill and has served the Harlem community for more than five decades, and Christina Lewis Halpern, founder and CEO of All Star Code. Through her leadership, All Star Code has taught coding to over 400 students in New York and in Pittsburgh.

Among the elected officials in attendance and lending their support of GNY Links were Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, New York State Senator Brian A. Benjamin, New York State Assembly Members Michael Blake and Walter T. Mosley, New York State Senator Kevin Parker, New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and Congressman Adriano Espaillat. Rounding out the stellar roster of civic leaders in attendance were Hazel N. Dukes, past national president of the NAACP, Charles B. Rangel, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and C. Virginia Fields, member of the GNY Links, former Manhattan Borough President and current president of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

The landmark occasion was made even more special with greetings in the commemorative program from some of the city and state’s most esteemed leaders, including Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Congressman Espaillat, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York State Assemblyman, Speaker Carl E. Heastie, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, State Senator Brian A. Benjamin, and New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

A highlight of the event was a fun and engaging text-to-give segment where an additional $16,000 was raised in real time to assist GNY Links in its work, as guests dined on a dinner of Lola Rosa lettuce with spring vegetables, and a delicate pan-seared branzino with a sweet potato and turnip hash. Champagne cocktails, a special LinkTini and Douglas Hill wines were also featured. A dessert of molten chocolate cake with seasonal berries and vanilla ice cream was followed by dancing to the sounds of DJ Kaos well into the night.

Colgate, Facebook, and JetBlue Airways were Diamond Sponsors of the event. Pearl Sponsors include Flushing Bank, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Zin Technologies. Global marketing communications firm Finn Partners provided pro bono public relations for the event, yielding an unprecedented segment on WNBC-TV’s Weekend Today in New York. Special thanks also to New York University Tandon School of Engineering for its support of the GNY Links STEMulate STEM Education Program. Maison Marcel sponsored the wine bar with its newly-launched sparkling rosé at a private reception attended by Links national president Kimberly Jefferies Leonard, and Links from other Chapters including Brooklyn, Greater Queens, Greater Bronx, Greater Hudson Valley and Westchester.

“We are so very honored to serve the Greater New York area and we thank everyone who came to support and witness this landmark event in our Chapter history,” adds Dr. Jones. “We also thank our many sponsors and everyone whose generous contributions make it possible for us to do important work in the communities we serve.”

Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought out journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food and more! Based out of NYC.