As for the dinner, it was gorgeous - held at the Sheraton Times Square with 1,200 of New York's best dressed. Flooded with politicos, Speaker Quinn, Governor Patterson, both Senators Gillibrand and Schumer all made wonderful remarks, condemning the hate crime gang attack in the Bronx, remembering the many kids who have committed suicide in the recent months, applauding Judge Phillips for the unconstitutional ruling of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and promising to be on the supportive side of marriage equality as it comes up again in the near future of New York State. Ross Levi, Pride Agenda Executive Director, held up a sign that he used in Washington in 2000. We have seen growth or passage of each of the dreams and goals listed: Hate Crimes Law, Dignity for All Students, No Anti-Marriage Bill, etc. Senator Gillibrand was the keynote speaker and I very much look forward to working with her on the Safe Schools Improvement Act on a national level.
And then it was my turn. After a beautiful dinner, that I could barely eat because I was so nervous, I was honored with the Douglas Jones Leadership Award, presented by co-chair of the dinner Mitch Karsch. As I said in my speech, I was elated when Frank Selvaggi, chair of the dinner, invited me to attend and sit at one of his tables. Really, they could have stopped there; but to receive this award was absolutely incredible. In my speech, I referenced my experience with leadership and how so often I felt inferior to some leaders because my channel through which to create change was in pageants. However, that perspective has completely changed and I am able to see the power of this voice and the platform that the Miss America Organization has given me - one for which I am amazingly grateful. Thank you, Pride Agenda, for your faith in me and recognition of the value of our message as well as the ability to share it with more people. Miss NY ED, Kenny Mack, and Co-Business Manager, Judy Bolton, were in attendance with my parents and me, and as an organization, I think we made great progress with partnerships that will benefit the growth and involvement of Miss New York - I can't wait to pursue those together. oh yeah...I met Jimmy Fallon too :)
More photos in my Photo Gallery PFLAG NYC, ESPA, ACLU Dinners