Breakthrough, a U.S. and India-based organization that seeks to promote human rights in the areas of immigration, racial justice, HIV/AIDS, and women’s rights, held its 2019 awards gala at The Pierre, in New York City April 24.
Two Indian-Americans were recognized at the gala – Mona Sinha who received the Lifetime Inspiration Award; and Sandeep Mathrani who was honored with the Corporate Inspiration Award.
Sinha describes herself in her LinkedIn profile as a “financial professional” who parlays her skills “to build sustainability in organizations that will change the world by creating gender equality.”
She is the co-founder of Raising Change in 2017, is the Visiting Committee member of the museum of Smith College; an advisory board member of the Global Mental Health Program at Colum bia University, member of the board of directors of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, and a board member of Breakthrough.
Sinha called it an honor to be recognized by the 20-year old organization which she has helped over its 20 years of existence. “The work we do is critical to ensure women enjoy a full and fruitful life,… We believe that women are agents of chnage,” and that given the tools and opportunity, they are instrumental in changing much more than just the trajectory of their own lives,” Sinha said in her speech.
She dedicated her award to Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old African American teenager shot to death in 2012. and to others including the victims of the recent massacres in New Zealand mosques and Sri Lankan Churches.
Sinha implored those present to “Take a stand against hate and bias… adopt someone who doesn’t look like you and mentor them …”
Mathrani is CEO of Brookfield Properties Retail and vice chairman, Brookfield Property Group For nearly eight years, he served as CEO of GGP Inc. and was part of the group that recapitalized GGP in November 2010. He spent nearly a decade as executive vice president at Forest City Ratner, responsible for their retail development and leasing in the New York City metropolitan area.
A Master of Engineering, Master of Management Science and Bachelor of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., Mathrani is on the executive board and the board of trustees for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), executive board and current vice chair of NAREIT and on the board of directors of Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc.
The management profile of Brookfield Properties shows half of the members are women, a point Mathrani made in his award acceptance speech. The company defines its “core values” as made up of – “. Humility, Attitude, Do the Right Thing, Together and Own It” which it says “have had a profound effect on retaining the finest and recruiting the best people in the retail property business.”
Tracing his journey from the time he came to the U.S. in 1978, from a well-to-do family, and wanting to make it on his own steam, Mathrani spoke about his son being the center of his life and of being surrounded by his friends – the two things that make him more happy than anything else.
“I am very blessed … plenty of opportunities and plenty of luck,” Mathrani said, adding, “So the American story is alive and well.” He called Breakthrough a “pretty amazing” organization, and concluded with the dictum, “Believe in yourself.”
Recipients in other categories included the following:
ACTIVIST IMPACT AWARD”
- KENYETTE TISHA BARNES & ORONIKE ODELEYE, Founders, #MuteRKelly Campaign
- AISHAH SHAHIDAH SIMMONS, Director, “NO! The Rape Documentary”
- KALIMAH JOHNSON, Founder & Chair, SASHA Center
- ALEESHA BARLOW, Author and Founder, Tell Somebody
- LUZ MARQUEZ BENBOW, Associate Director, Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault
CULTURE CHANGE INSPIRATION AWARD
- CHRISTINA WEISS LURIE, film producer; minority owner, Philadelphia Eagles; President, Eagles Charitable Foundation and Eagles Social Responsibility.