Washington DC

Building A GradNation: America's Promise Alliance

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The Building a GradNation Summit occurs annually in Washington, DC to promote students graduating high-school nationally. Since the 2010 launch of the GradNation campaign, America’s Promise Alliance has brought energy and focus to the national graduation rate challenge through research and data analysis, community-level investments, and convenings at the national, state, and local levels. Their incredible work focuses on keeping the Five Promises to young people: Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education and Opportunities to Help Others.

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I felt so honored to photograph this extraordinary event, which joins more than 800 leaders in education, politics, business, and nonprofits with youth and community leaders from across the country. I am excited to share highlights from the GradNation Summit, and hope to raise awareness and encourage people to take action for this great cause. From individuals to national organizations and all in between - there is a way to make a difference and impact the life of a young person!

What we have here is not an education challenge, it is an American challenge”
— Mrs. Alma Powell
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America’s Promise Founding Chairman General Colin Powell and current chair Mrs. Alma Powell presented at this event, followed by a special announcement from Mrs. Laura Bush.

GradNation aims to increase the national graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and put millions more young people on the path to adult success. It is so inspiring to see the huge accomplishments America’s Promise has made over the last several years, and thanks to their unmitigated passion and commitment, these goals are now tangible.

With hundreds of national partners and their local affiliates, America’s Promise Alliance is uniquely positioned to mobilize Americans to act. We have made improving high school graduation rates our top priority, and we are on track to achieve the nation’s goal of a 90 percent graduation rate”
— Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

International Leadership Reunion

Group shot surrounding Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (in red).

Group shot surrounding Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (in red).

The International Leadership Reunion (ILR) was held at the Cannon Caucus Ballroom in Washington, D.C. This was a very exciting photoshoot because the ILR is known to be the most prestigious worldwide Jewish event, gathering the highest level donors. These important fundraising organizations work with the Jewish communities throughout the world for social and education programs and the support of refugees. The conference is in line with the Foundation’s goals since it aims to encourage the integration and peaceful cohabitation of nations through meetings that address issues they have in common.

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In partnership with the global Jewish community, the ILR works to further the national priorities of the State of Israel and Israeli society, with special emphasis on advancing weaker communities; nurturing disadvantaged and marginalized youth; encouraging aliyah; implementing rescue operations; and connecting young Diaspora Jews to Israel and Jewish life.

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In addition to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there were many other notable attendees at the International Leadership Reunion. William Daroff, the Senior Vice President for public policy and director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America. As the principal spokesperson on public policy and international affairs for 148 Jewish Federations and more than 300 independent communities, Daroff ensures that the voice of Jewish Federations is a prominent force in the nation's capital. He guides the Jewish community’s advocacy efforts on the Federation movement’s key domestic policy issues, from health and human services to elder care, homeland security to strengthening charitable organizations.

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Another high level donor at the event was Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician, human rights activist and author who, as a refusenik in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, spent nine years in Soviet prisons. Sharansky served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency from June 2009 to August 2018.

The night was filled with prominent donors and speakers, and incredible entertainment by Doc Scantlin & His Imperial Palms Orchestra. For over a decade, dapper Doc Scantlin has kept the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s alive for Washington, DC and others internationally. The performance was incredible, immediately transporting the audience to the high life immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Great Gatsby the moment they took the stage.

The Inaugural Purple Ball

The Inaugural Purple Ball

The 2009 Inaugural Purple Ball was held at the Washington Convention Center. With a special tribute to the American troops, the Inaugural Purple Ball promises to be a night full of musical performances, toasts, and champagne.