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June 15, 2016

The 2016 WNET Gala Salute Celebrates Community Impact of Honorees

Angela Lansbury, Ali & Joe Torre (above), Francisco D’Souza and Dr. Leonard Tow were celebrated at the annual event; Tony Award-nominee Norm Lewis dazzled the crowd with a special performance.

Honoree Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant

Honoree Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant

Last night WNET celebrated the 2016 WNET Gala Salute highlighting Media with Impact. Honorees for the evening were actress Angela Lansbury; Ali and Joe Torre, founders of the Safe at Home Foundation; Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant Technology Solutions; and Dr. Leonard Tow, WNET Trustee and philanthropist. The honorees were recognized for their contributions and commitment to education, innovation, engagement, the arts, and their commitment to public media. The evening was a great success, celebrating WNET’s mission to create Media with Impact.

The evening’s emcees were the hosts of MetroFocus, Jenna Flanagan, Jack Ford, and Rafael Pi Roman. Also in attendance were many notables friends of WNET, including: Dick Cavett, Ric Burns, Former NJ Govs. Thomas Kean and Jim McGreevey, Consuela Mack, Paula Zahn, Mary Alice Williams, and Hari Sreenivasan.

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WNET Board Member Dr. Leonard Tow, Gala honoree

There was even a special guest appearance at the beginning of the night from Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog!

Guests were encouraged to post their photos online using the hashtag “#WNETGALA.” A new Social Media element was introduced to this year’s Gala promotion – beyond tweeting on the @ThirteenWNET and @wnet accounts, IEG livestreamed red carpet interviews on Facebook at the beginning of the night. Guests were interviewed by First Person host Mike Kelton, and discussed the importance of public media and the impact it has had on them.

Norm Lewis sings a selection from “Porgy & Bess”

Norm Lewis sings a selection from “Porgy & Bess”

Highlights of the evening included remarks by Chairman of the Board of Trustees Jim Tisch, and WNET President & CEO Neal Shapiro, and a performance by Tony Award-nominated Norm Lewis.

Guests were thanked with a complimentary THIRTEEN membership allowing them access to Passport, in addition to being given an iconic THIRTEEN tote bag that was stuffed with goodies.

“It was a great night and the Community Relations team lead the entire WNET team in creating an amazing celebration of our mission and impact. Our guests were engaged in the program and seemed to enjoy the evening,” said Vice President of Development & Communications Claude Johnson. “It is an exciting time at WNET, and we are thrilled to be a driving force in the future of public media.”

The event could not have been as successful as it was if not for the invaluable help from many departments throughout WNET. Hilary Vlachos and the Community Relations team extends thanks to all staff members who helped to make it such a memorable evening.

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