At the CARE Impact Awards, Humanitarian Leadership Takes Center Stage


On Wednesday evening, the global humanitarian aid group CARE hosted its annual Impact Awards at Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Ballroom. This year’s ceremony honored activist, former congressman, and US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and his wife, Carolyn Young; James Quincey, chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company; Bea Perez, Coca-Cola’s communications, sustainability, and strategic partnerships officer; and Vanity Fair’s Radhika Jones, who also serves as vice chair of CARE’s board of directors. 

Before taking their seats for the evening’s programming, guests enjoyed sparkling flower-adorned cocktails as they mingled around tables covering the ballroom’s dance floor. The theme was “heartbeat,” which was subtly highlighted by the rhythmic dimming of the chandelier lighting at various moments throughout the night. 

The ceremony was hosted by Today’s Al Roker and ABC’s Deborah Roberts, who first introduced CARE USA’s president and CEO, Michelle Nunn. The couple, in coordinating florals (Roker’s lapel pin was a cheerful purple blossom to match his wife’s garden-themed top), set the tone for the event by sharing a few words about the foundation’s mission, which is focused on the empowerment of women and girls. Then, surprise guest Bill Clinton took the stage. The former president introduced the Youngs, the first awardees of the night, who received the CARE Impact Award for Lifetime Achievement. Clinton reminisced on his decades-long friendship with the couple and reflected on what Americans can learn from Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste. Accepting their award, the Youngs were similarly upbeat, with the former ambassador recalling his early work with Martin Luther King Jr. and their own peace efforts in the Middle East dating back to 1948. Looking on were the Youngs’ family, including their daughter Andrea, who runs the ACLU of Georgia.

Building off the “heartbeat” theme, award-winning percussionist and drummer Sheila E. then joined her band onstage for a performance (her drums still feature the Prince symbol) that included a cover of the Bill Withers classic “Lovely Day.” Former Time editor and undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel introduced a moving video about CARE’s work across the globe, and as dinner wound down, they raised $3 million for the organization’s global humanitarian and development work. Quincey and Perez accepted the CARE Impact Award for Corporate Leadership (guests had begun to leave by the time animal rights activists showed up at the very end of the night to protest Quincey being honored). And finally, Aurora James, founder of fashion brand Brother Vellies and founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge introduced the final award of the night to Vanity Fair editor in chief Jones, who received the CARE Impact Award for Visionary Leadership.

On hand to cheer Jones: Her family at one table and Anna Wintour, global chief content officer of Condé Nast, presiding over another, surrounded by Condé Nast editorial leads; Gilbert Cruz, editor of The New York Times Book Review; Caitlin Thompson, cofounder of Racquet; and the playwright Jeremy O. Harris—who was thrilled to hear the SAG-AFTRA strike ended right around the time of Sheila E.’s final drumbeat.

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