JOIN US FOR VOICES OF SOLIDARITY — a presentation of the Vital Voices Solidarity Award to remarkable men who have shown courage and compassion in advocating on behalf of women and girls in the United States and around the world. This inspiring evening brings together the most conscientious and committed individuals, corporations, and issue advocates to unite their voices for global gender equality.
Combating Gender-Based Violence:
Every day, we’re rocked with a new, more devastating headline about another man who has abused his power to violate women’s most fundamental rights. These stories are finally bringing to light how pervasive sexual harassment and violence against women truly is. But there’s another side to this story, being written by men who refuse to stay silent and are taking action to chip away at this epidemic.
MEET THE HONOREES
Voices of Solidarity is a presentation of the Vital Voices Solidarity Award to remarkable men who have shown courage and compassion in advocating on behalf of women and girls in the United States and around the world. This inspiring evening brings together the most conscientious and committed individuals, corporations and issue advocates to united their voices against this global epidemic.
Fallu Sowe is a fearless human rights activist and advocate for survivors of gender-based violence. He provides survivors with critical services and leads cross-sector efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in The Gambia.
In April 2014, heeding the call of his passion, dedication, and determination to make a difference in eradicating gender-based violence in Gambian communities, Mr. Sowe left his position as the Deputy Director of Social Welfare to join the Network Against Gender-Based Violence (NGBV), an NGO he co-founded in The Gambia. The organization advocates for the eradication of gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls. In 2019, Mr. Sowe became the NGBV’s National Coordinator. Under his leadership, the NGBV has become a leading voice in the fight against gender-based violence in The Gambia.
Sowe has helped to change the way that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is seen and talked about in The Gambia, making it easier for survivors to come forward and seek help. He has also helped establish support services – including ten One-Stop Centers across all the regions of The Gambia, a shelter and counseling center, and legal aid for survivors – to ensure that survivors of SGBV have access to justice and support. Knowing that economic opportunities and education are essential for women to be able to escape GBV, Sowe has also worked to promote women’s economic empowerment and to increase girls’ access to skills training and income-generating activities. He helped establish a reusable pad and diapers production center in The Gambia to address pad poverty among vulnerable women and adolescent girls and also to support the education of out-of-school SGBV survivors.
Sowe’s work as a women’s rights advocate has been recognized by the Gambian government, UN agencies, and civil society organizations. He is a passionate advocate for the rights of women and girls, and he is committed to making The Gambia a more just and equitable society for all.
Representative Jimmy Gomez
Representative Jimmy Gomez is the founder of the U.S. Congressional Dads’ Caucus and a fierce champion of working families. He passionately advocates for national policies on paid leave, childcare, and gender equality.
He proudly represents California’s 34th Congressional District, one of the country’s most diverse and culturally rich districts. In the 118th Congress, Representative Gomez sits on the Committee on Oversight and Accountability. He serves as an Assistant Whip of the Democratic Caucus and Deputy Whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Rep. Gomez is the Founder and Chair of the Congressional Dads Caucus and Congressional Renters Caucus. He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Future Forum.
Prior to his election to Congress in June of 2017, Rep. Gomez served four and a half years in the California State Assembly, where he served as Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. In the Assembly, Rep. Gomez distinguished himself as a proven national champion of paid family leave and combatting climate change. He became a key figure in authoring landmark legislation to address public health, environmental justice, water conservation, access to education, civic engagement, campaign finance disclosure, LGBTQ+ rights, and affordable housing.
Representative Gomez attended Riverside Community College before receiving a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Eagle Rock with his wife Mary, baby son Hodge, and rescue dog Austin. He is a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Omaid Sharifi is an artivist who co-founded and presides over ArtLords, a collective of self-styled artivists who create street art in Afghanistan and around the world. A former fellow at Harvard University, Omaid is an active board member of CIVICUS, a worldwide alliance that focuses on strengthening citizen action and civil society. He also contributes his insights as a board member of the Millennium Leadership Fellowship Alumni at the Atlantic Council and serves as the Chapter Lead for the Asia Society 21 Young Leaders Initiative in Afghanistan.
In his role at Pen America’s ARC, Mr. Sharifi spearheads programs dedicated to protecting artists at risk globally. With a career spanning over 19 years, he has demonstrated exceptional skill in planning, designing, and implementing a wide range of projects, not only in Afghanistan and South Asia but also in various other international locations. His commitment to the arts and civil society is evident through his extensive involvement and leadership in these areas.
Mr. Sharifi co-founded Artlords as a global grassroots movement to bring together artivists who are committed to using art and culture to create social transformation – especially for women and girls in Afghanistan. In hundreds of murals, Mr. Sharifi has leveraged visually striking and dynamic street art to draw public attention to issues including girls’ right to education, women’s rights, disability inclusion, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Last month, ArtLords partnered with Vital Voices on a campaign around the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women, raising awareness about the strength and resilience of women in the face of adversity.
Tony Hawk is a skateboarding legend, dedicated philanthropist, and advocate for girls in sports. He builds safe, public skateparks for young people in low-income communities across America and around the world.
The most recognized action sports figure in the world, Tony Hawk was just nine years old when his brother changed his life by giving him a blue fiberglass Bahne skateboard. By 14, he’d turned pro, and by 16, he was widely considered the best skateboarder on earth. Tony was world champion 12 years in a row and is a 16-time X Games medalist. In 1999, he became the first skater to ever complete a 900, the holy grail of vert skating. Shortly thereafter, he teamed up with Activision to launch Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, now a billion-dollar video game franchise. He has created a Tony Hawk brand that includes Birdhouse Skateboards, Hawk Clothing, and the Tony Hawk Signature Series sporting goods and toys.
Tony served as a correspondent at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games for NBC when skateboarding became an Olympic sport for the first time. He has authored a New York Times bestseller, HAWK—Occupation: Skateboarder, and his book How Did I Get Here? The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO covers the business side of his career. In 2022, a biographical documentary film titled Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off, by award-winning director Sam Jones, debuted on HBO, giving an in-depth look at Tony’s legendary career and personal life. Tony also oversees his own film, television, and commercial production company, 900 Films.
In 2002, Tony founded The Skatepark Project (formerly the Tony Hawk Foundation). The organization has given away over $10 million to help fund more than 650 public skatepark projects throughout the United States that serve over 6 million visitors annually. He is long-time a champion of girls in sports, including through his work with Skateistan in Afghanistan.
Cody McDavis is a lawyer and advocate for sexual and gender-based violence prevention and policy. His work began in 2014, when he directed a joint effort between the Obama Administration and the NCAA to engage with students across the nation in consent and bystander intervention. He received the Champion of Change award from the White House in 2016 for this work. Cody then worked directly with the NCAA for two years to research and implement national policy changes to better prevent acts of sexual violence and gender-based violence as well as protect survivors of such acts. His efforts led to the Big Sky Conference, where he played NCAA Division I men’s basketball, to be the first in the country to adopt comprehensive policy banning participation of student-athletes that have committed an act of sexual or gender-based violence. Cody has worked with numerous United States Congressman and Congresswomen, the American Council on Education, and Change.org to lobby the largest educational institutions across the country to adopt stronger policies to prevent occurrences of sexual violence. Cody’s lobbying efforts with Change.org are supported by more than 215,000 people.
Cody currently serves on the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (“AMSSM”) Task Force on Sexual Violence and Harassment in Sports, where he is working to develop policies for institutions to provide safer spaces to prevent and report abuse. He is also working closely with national activist and survivor, Brenda Tracy, to draft sexual violence prevention policies for institutions across the country. Finally, he recently started his own non-profit, Foundation 42, which provides academic scholarships to students that want to work in the field of sexual and gender-based violence prevention and policy.
Cody McDavis was a Solidarity Honoree at the 2019 Voices of Solidarity event.
Right Honorable David Miliband
David Miliband is the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. He oversees the agency’s relief and development operations in over 30 countries, its refugee resettlement and assistance programs throughout the United States and the IRC’s advocacy efforts in Washington and other capitals on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people.
David has had a distinguished political career in the United Kingdom. From 2007 to 2010, he served as the youngest Foreign Secretary in three decades, driving advancements in human rights and representing the United Kingdom throughout the world. His accomplishments have earned him a reputation, in former President Bill Clinton’s words, as “one of the ablest, most creative public servants of our time.” In 2016 David was named one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine and in 2018 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
David is also the author of the book, Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time. As the son of refugees, David brings a personal commitment to the IRC’s work and to the premise of the book: that we can rescue the dignity and hopes of refugees and displaced people. And if we help them, in the process we will rescue our own values.
The Rt. Hon. David Miliband was selected as a 2019 Voices of Solidarity Honoree.
Since taking over as Chairman and CEO in 2005, François-Henri Pinault has transformed Kering into a global luxury group.
Mr Pinault joined the Pinault Group in 1987, where he held senior positions in several of the Group’s operating companies before joining its executive board.
In 2000, he became deputy CEO of Kering, responsible for the group’s digital strategy. Three years later, Mr Pinault was named Chairman of the Artemis Group a French holding company, and Kering’s controlling shareholder. He took charge of Kering’s operations as Chairman and CEO in 2005.
In addition to holding several other board positions, he chairs the Kering Corporate Foundation, which was launched in 2009 to combat violence against women.
Mr Pinault’s passion for sustainability led Kering to pioneer an Environmental Profit & Loss account.
A French national, he is a graduate of the HEC business school.
Photo Courtesy of: Carole Bellaiche
Mr. Pinault was honored as a Solidarity Honoree at the 2019 Voices of Solidarity.
José Guadalupe Ruelas García
José Guadalupe Ruelas García was born in Honduras in 1969.
He is the National Director of Casa Alianza Honduras, a subsidiary of Covenant House International a leading organization in providing protection and development opportunities to children in abandonment. He is part of a multidisciplinary team of 70 people who each year have significant contact with more than 1500 girls and boys.
For more than 25 years he has dedicated his professional life to local development processes and human rights defense, in different organizations.
He has participated in various national and international forums making visible the reality of girls and boys in Honduras.
In 2016, he received the WOLA human rights award for Casa Alianza
In 2018, he received from the Mexican government the “Othli” award, for his career of rectitude and commitment to the progress of his society.
José Guadalupe Ruelas García was honored as a Solidarity Honoree at our 2019 Voices of Solidarity event, and has been a partner for our Voices Against Violence Initiative.
Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy. He is co-founder and chair of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy.
Before joining Ford, Darren was vice president at Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs. In the 1990s, he was COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, Harlem’s largest community development organization.
Darren co-chairs New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and serves on The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and UN International Labour Organization Global Commission on the Future of Work. He serves on many boards, including Carnegie Hall, the High Line, VOW to End Child Marriage, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of 16 honorary degrees and university awards, including Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.
Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first Head Start class in 1965 and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. He has been included on Time’s annual 100 Most Influential People in the World, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, and OUT Magazine’s Power 50.
Darren Walker was selected as a 2019 Voices of Solidarity Honoree.