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Ashley Anderson Smith, Gala co-chair, Brittany Merrill Underwood, Champion of Human Rights honoree, and Nusia Sookarow, Gala co-chair

Co-chairs Ashley Anderson Smith and Nusia Sookarow, with honorary chair Susan Posnick, welcomed more than 350 attendees to the 8th Annual Mosaic Family Services Champion of Human Rights Gala held on Friday, October 6 at venue sixty five hundred.  The event raised nearly $150,000 in support of survivors of human rights abuses, including domestic violence and human trafficking, who are served by Mosaic.

Upon arrival at the “night in Monte Carlo” themed event, partygoers mingled while enjoying specialty cocktails courtesy of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, including a Mosaic Fizz and an Old Fashioned, as well as passed hors d’oeuvres.  As DJ LC provided the vibe, guests tried their luck at the casino tables and placed their bids in the nearby silent auction, which featured fashion, food, travel and sports packages.

At the appointed time, guests were seated for dinner as master of ceremonies Steve Kemble, America’s Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, welcomed everyone to the 8th annual fundraiser.  While patrons enjoyed a salad of baby arugula and romaine with shaved fennel, cherry tomatoes, shaved carrots and Bulgarian feta cheese with a honey-sherry vinaigrette, co-chairs Ashley Andersson Smith and Nusia Sookarow took the stage to add their gratitude to all in attendance including the evening’s sponsors. 

Entrees were then served featuring a duo of tomatillo-garlic creamed chicken topped with queso fresco and overnight braised short rib with caramelized onion, paired with roasted garlic herb cauliflower floret, mashed Russet potatoes and grilled asparagus.  As patrons enjoyed their meal, Dr. Walter Nguyen, executive director of Mosaic Family Services, took the stage to recognize Church of the Incarnation for their service project helping to renovate Mosaic House. 

Erica Foland from Neiman Marcus followed to present the 2017 Champion of Human Rights Award, which is presented each year to individuals and/or groups who strive to ensure the protection of the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled. This year’s recipient was Brittany Merrill Underwood, founder of the Akola Project for her inspirational work empowering women in disadvantaged communities throughout the globe. Akola trains and employs women in poverty, including survivors of trafficking in Dallas, so they can support themselves and meet the needs of their families.

Ms. Underwood thanked Neiman Marcus, which offers an elevated collection of Akola jewelry, made by 100 women coming out of poverty in Dallas, to its customers nationwide.  She then added her gratitude to Mosaic Family Services for the honor and recognition of the work Akola is doing throughout the globe, including in the Dallas community.

Past Champion of Human Rights award recipients include council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, director and filmmaker Libby Spears; fashion designer Abi Ferrin; Judge Roberto Canas, Jr., presiding judge of Dallas County Criminal Court No. 10; Jan Langbein, Executive Director of Genesis Women’s Shelter, and Paige Flink, Executive Director of The Family Place; Ambassador-At-Large Luis CdeBaca; and local philanthropist and women’s and human rights activist, Lauren Embrey.

As dessert was served, attendees listened to the personal testimony of a young man who is a recent survivor of human trafficking.  After sharing his story, he credited the support of Mosaic, such as providing counseling, helping him find a job, helping him find a place to live and giving him a new hope for his future.

After dinner, auctioneer Jeff Garrett took the stage asking for the highest bidders for items such as  a weekend in Santa Fe, a weekend use of a Tesla and a stay at The Adolphus Hotel and a Dallas sports package featuring tickets to the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game, Dallas Stars tickets for New Year’s Eve and an autographed Emmitt Smith jersey. 

As the auction came to a close DJ LC pumped up the volume as partygoers hit the dance floor.  Upon departure, patrons were gifted an American Airlines tote bag with a cake pop, an American Airlines amenity kit and water bottle.

Sponsors for the 8th Annual Mosaic Family Services Champion for Human Rights Gala include:  $10,000 - Catharine Elizabeth Laney Trust; $5,000 - Stonebriar Veterinary Centre; and Greenberg Traurig, LLP; $2,500 - Bank of Texas; Katie Bloom; Cindi’s New York Deli and Bakery; Shaleen Clay; FLITE to Freedom; Lindi Light; Neiman Marcus; Ashley Anderson Smith and Dr. Bert Smith; Audrey Spangenberg; and Anne and Steve Stodghill. Fred Biagi and Stephen and Monique Hohmann 

About Mosaic Family Services

Mosaic Family Services is a safe haven for survivors of human rights abuses, including domestic violence and human trafficking. The multicultural staff at Mosaic supports, educates, and empowers more than 30,000 people each year through direct services and outreach. Refugees and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence receive shelter, legal representation, counseling, access to health care, and support services in more than 30 languages. Every year, Mosaic House provides emergency housing to hundreds of women and children fleeing domestic violence and human trafficking.  They are the only shelter in North Texas providing comprehensive services to multicultural survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.  For more information, visit www.mosaicservices.org.

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