The 2018 DVF Awards Honorees
The following extraordinary women were honored at the 9th annual DVF Awards in New York on April 13, 2018:
The Lifetime Leadership DVF Award
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice, was born in Bronx, New York, on June 25, 1954. She earned a B.A. in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university's highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She thereafter served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office from 1979–1984. She then litigated international commercial matters in New York City at Pavia & Harcourt, where she was an associate and then partner from 1984–1992. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992–1998. She then served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998–2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009.
Photo credit: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The International DVF Award
When Jaha Dukureh was a week old, she survived female genital mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia. When she was 15 years old, she was forced into marriage with a man many years her senior, and sent to New York to be with her husband. On her wedding night, she was cut again to allow for the consummation of the marriage. The second procedure is common for women who have already undergone the most severe form of FGM.
Today, she fights against the practice, which the UN estimates affects 200 million girls and women globally. Jaha is the CEO and Founder of the NGO Safe Hands for Girls that provides support to African women and girls who are survivors of FGM and addresses its lifelong, harmful physical and psychological consequences. Alongside women’s organizations and civil society, she contributed to the Gambian Government’s ban on FGM after youth mobilization and campaigning in the country.
The International DVF Award
Ariela Suster was born and raised in El Salvador during the Salvadoran Civil War. Ariela and her family experienced violence first-hand and it rocked Ariela to her core, but also lit in her a desire for change. She felt determined to one day influence the sequence of events that keep her country—and its people—in violence.
So after forging a name for herself in New York’s fashion industry, holding senior editorial positions at InStyle, Lucky and Harpers Bazaar, Ariela left the editorial world to follow her heart. She returned to El Salvador and was struck again with an urgent desire to positively influence her home country. She saw an opportunity to disrupt its story of violence by employing—and empowering—a group of at-risk youth to create beautiful, handcrafted products in their own community.
The Inspiration DVF Award
Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. She went on to study at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre's Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT's National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Misty joined ABT's Studio Company in 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 2001, and in 2007 became the company’s second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades. In 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history. She made her Broadway debut in the role of “Ivy Smith/Miss Turnstiles” with the critically acclaimed show, On The Town.
In 2008, Misty was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts. Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was performing the title role in Firebird. In 2014, Misty debuted the lead role of “Clara” in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker. That same year, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre's Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia.
The People’s Voice DVF Award
Luma Mufleh is the CEO and Founding Director of Fugees Family, Inc., a nonprofit organization that uses the power of soccer, education and community to empower refugee children to successfully integrate into the United States. Luma is a 2016 Top 10 CNN Hero whose story has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, ESPN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Forbes and more.
The Fugees’ story began in 2004, when Luma took a wrong turn while driving through the town of Clarkston, Georgia and noticed a group of boys playing soccer in the street. She learned that these children were refugees from war-torn countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Burma, Somalia and Sudan. That summer, Luma made fliers announcing tryouts for the Fugees soccer team. In the years that followed, the soccer team grew into something much larger — a school, a tutoring program, a summer camp, a college prep program, and, most importantly, a community and support network. The Fugees were chronicled in the bestselling book “Outcasts United” by Warren St. John.
People's Voice DVF Award Nominees
Let your voice be heard.
The People’s Voice DVF Award is chosen by popular vote and will be celebrated at the 9th annual DVF Awards to be held on April 13, 2018 at the United Nations in New York City.
This year’s nominees are: