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Celebrity Philanthropy News 2  3

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Black Tie International:
Fortune Society's Annual Awards and Benefit Gala


 

BET NETWORKS AND DAVID ROTHENBERG HONORED AT FORTUNE SOCIETY’S ANNUAL AWARDS AND BENEFIT GALA

 

Photos by:  John Dalton
 

Tony Award winning actress Christine Ebersole, David Rothenberg, Founder of Fortune Society and JoAnne Page, CEO and

Tony Award winning actress Christine Ebersole, David Rothenberg, Founder of Fortune Society and JoAnne Page, CEO and
President of Fortune Society.

 

 
President and CEO of Fortune Society JoAnne Page,

President and CEO of Fortune Society JoAnne Page,
 Mayor David Dinkins and David Rothenberg, founder of
 Fortune Society. 

 
JoAnne Page, CEO and President of Fortune Society; Casimiro Torres, David Rothenberg, Founder of Fortune Society; Vilma Donovan, Angel Ramos and Kenny Harrigan.

JoAnne Page, CEO and President of Fortune Society;
Casimiro Torres, David Rothenberg, Founder of Fortune Society; Vilma Donovan, Angel Ramos and Kenny Harrigan.
 
 

 

Tony Award Winning Actress Christine Ebersole and Publisher of El Diario Rossana Rosado Co-Chair
 Annual Gala 

 

(November 18, 2009 – New York, NY) – More than 200 members of New York City’s philanthropic, business, civic and theater communities recently gathered together to honor David Rothenberg, founder of the Fortune Society, and BET Networks at the Fortune Society’s Annual Awards and Benefit Gala held at the Laura Pels Theater.  Legendary Tony Award Winning actress Christine Ebersole and Publisher and CEO of El Diario Rossana Rosado served as the evening’s honorary Co-Chairs.

Mr. Rothenberg was presented with Fortune’s Lifetime Achieve Award. BET Networks received the Corporate Leaders for Change Award.  Proceeds will support Fortune’s wide range of services that help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter their communities.  Programs include supportive housing, career development, job retention, substance abuse treatment, alternatives to incarceration, HIV/AIDS services, education, family services, and drop-in services as well as ongoing access to aftercare. 

“There would be no Fortune Society without David Rothenberg,” said JoAnne Page, President and CEO of the Fortune Society. “His courage and his vision, more than four decades ago, created a place of hope and opportunity – a place where more than 100,000 formerly incarcerated men and women have found a true second chance. He remains a tireless advocate.  A compassionate friend.  And a strong voice for those who have none.  Tonight, it is with great pride that we present David with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award.’”

In 1966, Mr. Rothenberg, a theatrical press agent at the time, received a script of a true-life prison drama, Fortune and Men’s Eyes, depicting the gritty reality of life in a boy’s reformatory. He offered the script to many of his colleagues, all of whom passed on the opportunity to produce it – they believed the play’s brutal themes made it too much of a financial risk. Undeterred and inspired by the author’s social message, Mr. Rothenberg used his $12,000 in life savings to produce the play himself.

Fortune and Men’s Eyes opened at the Actors’ Playhouse in New York City’s Sheridan Square on February 23, 1967. The play angered and electrified audiences. Many people simply could not believe that prisons could breed the degree of cruelty and inhumanity portrayed by the actors. At the end of one fateful Tuesday performance, a member of the audience openly questioned the play’s accuracy. In response, Pat McGarry, a formerly incarcerated man who had also come to see the show, stood up and held the theater spellbound with his tale of life in “the joint.”

Post-show discussions between the cast and the audience soon became a Tuesday night tradition.  It wasn’t long before Mr. Rothenberg was overwhelmed by requests for help from people who had served time. In his mind, the only solution was to create a forum that would not only give them a voice, but would also provide them with the tools they needed to help rebuild their lives.  He called his organization The Fortune Society, taking the name from the play’s title, which originated from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 which begins, “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes/ I all alone, beweep my outcast state...”

In presenting the award to BET, Glenn Martin, Vice President of Development and Public Affairs said, “It is only fitting that we present BET Networks with the ‘Corporate Leaders for Change Award.  Through such projects as “Locked Out: Ex-Cons & The Vote,” BET’s programming has steadily aimed to reduce the stigma attached to those with criminal justice histories. BET’s pioneering approach to programming is proof that a company can indeed change communities and build lives.  We are delighted to recognize BET as an outstanding leader in helping to promote the successful reentry of men and women from behind the walls into society.”

The event also featured a special performance of “The Castle,” a moving and dramatic play about four formerly incarcerated individuals’ courageous paths to rebuilding their lives.  The play was co-authored by Mr. Rothenberg and the actors, who portray themselves.  It recently concluded a
14-month production Off-Broadway.

# # #

ABOUT THE FORTUNE SOCIETY:  For more than forty years, The Fortune Society has been developing model programs that help formerly incarcerated men and women successfully re-enter their communities.  The Fortune Society offers a holistic and integrated “one-stop-shopping” model of service provision. Among the services offered are supportive housing, career development, job retention, substance abuse treatment, alternatives to incarceration, HIV/AIDS services, education, family services, and drop in services as well as ongoing access to aftercare. 

 

www.fortunesociety.org

 

 

To list an upcoming event please contact:
joyce@blacktiemagazine.com

 
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