April 20, 2018 I covered the 2018 Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC’s (PPMW) 2018 Gala held in Union Station. Tickets were $300.00 and that includes VIP reception, a three course meal, the silent auction, and dancing. Attendees invited were donors, board members, socialites, and PPMW advocates.
For this event, I had to leave work early because the VIP reception started promptly at 6:30 p.m. I wore my Anne Taylor floral silk shirt with ruffled sleeves, and a layered, asymmetrical, tiered black skirt from Adrianna Pappel. I think the highlight of my last minute ensemble was my Bruno Magli shoes I bought from Saks.
I wasn’t sure how parking was going to be around Union Station so I drove straight to Bethesda metro station, parked at the nearby garage, then took a rather long metro ride to the event. As soon as I walked out of the metro station, I was lost for awhile and didn’t know how to find the gala, itself. I was later greeted by an associate of PPMW and she escorted me through a highly secured (police and body guards were everywhere) area. Vocal protesters were within eye-shot so security was a high priority.
As I walked through the red carpet, I noticed the words “Planned Parenthood” etched in light on the side walls. The exterior decor was impressive and inviting. Inside the venue, I realized how iconic this Capitol Hill setting really was. The reception area was modern, classy with tall ceilings. The walls dripped of opulence, and the veranda that allowed guests to nibble on appetizers, al fresco, brought out rich conversation from notable figures. The venue truly does appreciate natural light–through the skylights in both the East Hall and the side cocktail room. The East Hall was breathtaking, as well.
Naturally, the three bar areas in the reception area were beset by a thirsty crowd. The wait was worth it, my glass of pinot gris quenched my thirst.
PPMW was founded more than 80 years ago through the idea that access to sexual and reproductive healthcare can enhance people’s lives. Since 2017, this non profit has served more than 17,000 patients at three of their health centers (Northeast DC, Suitland, MD, and Gaithersburg, MD) by offering services such as breast exams, pap tests, STD testing and treatment, and contraceptive services.
The vision behind this gala is to share PPMW’s rich history. In addition, attendees bared witness to numerous testimonies through speeches, written word, and video as well.
After much was shared, dinner started with a bang. A banquet of sorts fed this hungry crowd in the most haute-gourmand way: exotic canapies that experimented with veggies, mousses, and meats; a deluxe donut bar featuring a variation of flavors, and strawberries filled with a luscious cream. The “Fund Our Future” silent auction corralled supporters, and helped raise funds to support the Contraceptive Equity Fund which provides low-income women with supplemented costs for contraceptives.
Right before the gala, I was whisked away to do one-on-one interviews with two notable women. I was able to learn more about the importance of empowering women from CNN analyst Angela Rye (who was the wittiest emcee with the best one-liners) and learned about the progression and impact of Planned Parenthood from CEO Dr. Laura Meyers. Dr. Meyers has lived a rich life in which planned parenthood services affected her family at a young age.
Exclusive with Angela Rye
SD: So what brought you to host this year’s Planned Parenthood gala?
AR: They (PPMW) have me making remarks for the reception. They reached out through a traditional booking process and I am elated to be a long-time Planned Parenthood supporter. I respect how they bring access to healthcare services and provide preventative healthcare for women, specifically for women of color. I am grateful to be here.
SD: That’s awesome! We’re glad you can support and emcee the show. So I hear you are famous for the #RyeRoll that gained traction a few years back during Trump’s election. Can you tell us more about this?
AR: I don’t know if I am famous for it. It was just a moment where I tried to live my authentic truth. In that particular moment I just had enough of people defending Donald Trump’s antics during the election. For a moment, I thought I was off-camera and I just rolled my eyes. I was just tired of it.
SD: I know that you are well known for being a notable figure with women empowerment. Is this part of your mantra for 2018?
AR: Actually, my mantra for 2018.. what I like to say every morning is, “I am Love and Power.” And whatever I do: I want to spread that to people I connect with, people I am in contact with, and people who support me. I always want to make sure that I am empowering women, people of color, folks from my own community. I think the best way to empower people is to help them to fulfill their own purpose so I work diligently do that; Whether I take on a speaking engagement, spread inspiration through social media, or when I mentor others. I also love to learn from others through feedback from all kinds of people irregardless of position, title, or influence. I believe you can learn from the youngest and the oldest.
Exclusive with Dr. Laura Meyers
SD: So what inspired you to be the CEO of Planned Parenthood in the DC area?
LM: Wow, that’s a great question. First and foremost, my grandmother and my mother who are inspirations for my life. My grandmother had a legal abortion in the 1930s. My mother didn’t have birth control options and with her fifth pregnancy, she developed gestational diabetes in which she lived her latter years of her life without legs. They both inspired me because they both taught me to make choices about when or whether you have children, make all the difference in your life. It shapes your life. Women could not participate in the labor force if we (PPMW) didnt have birth control.
SD: Do you have any advice for women who want to be leaders? Who want to be like you? Who want to take on the reign?
LM: Get involved! Get involved wherever you are. For example, you can volunteer for Parenthood. We have so many opportunities to get involved, whether that’s through our developing leaders program or our ambassador program. There’s so many ways that you can get involved to make a difference.
SD: Last question. I know that Planned Parenthood Metropolitan DC re-opened in 2016. Previous locations endured various openings and closings. I know that this location is successful so can you tell us more about the successes that these current facilities have amassed?
LM: Well, what’s been so wonderful since we opened up our DC house center is that it is a beautiful facility and it affirms all of our values around patient care. Patients come to us because they aspire for a better life. Whatever they are doing now, they want to live their own destiny according to their own views and make their own health decisions. So I would say that the success of the facility is how beautiful it is and how wonderful our staff are. Patients who come to our facility know they will get non judgmental care. That when they say anything and they can say anything, no one will raise an eyebrow. And they will get compassionate, non judgmental care.
Feel free to make donations to Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC here.
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. was founded on the visionary idea that access to sexual and reproductive health care could transform people’s lives. PPMW has provided high quality, supportive reproductive medical care for families in the DC metro area.
PPMW’s mission is to provide high quality, affordable reproductive health care; promote education programs that empower all individuals to make informed & responsible reproductive choices; & to protect the right to make those choices. PPMW is the oldest & largest provider of family planning services in Metropolitan Washington, serving DC, Maryland & Northern Virginia.