Fires in their belly

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The fire ceremony at Untermyer Gardens in celebration of the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy's annual Mehregan gala.

The Untermyer Gardens Conservancy held its most jubilant Mehregan gala yet last month as it honored Her Imperial Majesty Farah Pahlavi. The Shabanou was recognized for her extraordinary efforts to preserve Persian cultural heritage and to foster the appreciation of art and artists around the world. Inspired by the ancient Persian harvest festival, Mehregan took place at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, which is home to the finest Persian garden in the Western Hemisphere.

Stephen Byrns, Her Imperial Majesty Farah Pahlavi, and Nazee Moinian.

The gala was co-chaired by Katy Palizban and Cyrus Amir-Mokri, Tara Emrani and Mehdi Ansari, Diana and Frederick Elghanayan, Patricia and Alexander Farman-Farmaian, Marjan Ghara and Ali Granmayeh, Nazee and Joseph Moinian, Beth Rudin DeWoody and Firooz Zahedi, Nassrin Iromloo Zahedi. 

Board chair Peter Boodell, president Stephen Byrns, and Nazee Moinian spoke; Layla Diba introduced the honoree; and Ali Granmayeh presented the award. The festive event took place in a tent with sumptuous Persian food, music, and dancing. The evening culminated in a fire ceremony at the Shabanou-dedicated Persian Pool, which has been restored with generous support from the Iranian-American community, the State of New York, and the City of Yonkers. Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Mayor Mike Spano commemorated the occasion.

The gala raised funds to support the Conservancy’s efforts to sustain the Persian garden. Among the 300 guests were the Princesses Farahnaz, Iman, and Noor Pahlavi, Sima and Morad Ghadamian, Ann Carmel, Barbara Tober, Shlomo Bakhash, Jon Corzine, Suzy and Jeffrey Elghanayan, and Kathleen McClendon.

L. to r.: Sayna and Nima Ameri; Cyrus Amir-Mokri, Katy Palizban, Yeganeh, and Jason Rezaian.
Laya Khadjavi, Hamid Biglari, Parvin Biglari, Nazgol Saati, and Kambiz Shahbazi.
Ebby Moussazadeh, Firooz Zahedi, and Beth Rudin DeWoody.
L. to r.: Minouche Shafik and Mrs. Hamza; Her Imperial Majesty Farah Pahlavi.
Diana, Zoe, and Ariel Elghanayan.
Niamh Kilcoyne, Alesya Sukhoparova, Mojgan Rastegar, and Afsaneh Akhtari.
Ali Granmayeh and Marjan Ghara.
Crystal Barnes, with Abe and Cindy Ofer.
Susan Gutfreund, Shining Sung, Maryam Ansary, and Parvin Biglari.
Robert DeLaMater, Diana Boodell, Kristen DeLaMater, Thomas Lollar, Peter Boodell, and Betsy Pinover Schiff.
Helen Scott Reed, Elizabeth Cameron, John Spofford, Carrie Spofford, Jeremy Spofford, and Mélie Spofford.
L. to r.: Ambassador Robert Hormats and Catherine Hormats; Heena and Dhan Pai.
Iris Dudman and Mary Smart.
Princess Farahnaz Pahlavi and Her Imperial Majesty Farah Pahlavi.
Alireza Ayromloo, Kimya Zahedi, Her Imperial Majesty Farah Pahlavi, and Nassrin Zahedi.
Virginia Chambers Keim and Richard Keim.
Cyrus and Marjan Yaraghi.
Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Farah Farhadian.
Edward Lee Cave, Joyce Cowin, and Lynden Gilles.
L. to r.: Her Imperial Majesty Farah Pahlavi and Nortrud Wolf Spero; Layla Diba.
Barbara Israel and Alex Farman-Farmaian.
Shiva Sarram, Mahshid Nasseri, and Farrah Fattahi.
Mayor Mike Spano and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Nearly 300 guests gathered at the Ziegfeld Ballroom as DoSomething, the hub for youth-centered activism, celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a special edition of its annual gala — The Futures Ball. In addition to commemorating 30 years of youth-led impact, this year’s event ushered in a new, illustrious collective of changemakers — highlighting the next generations of young people who are transforming systems, creating change and building a future on their terms. 

The 2023 Futures Ball kicked off with a festive reception followed by the dinner and awards ceremony hosted by Emmy-nominated multi-platform storyteller, producer, futurist comedian and cultural critic Baratunde Thurston (Host and Executive Producer, PBS’ American Outdoors and Creator and Host, How To Citizen Podcast).

Baratunde Thurston.

In her opening remarks, DoSomething CEO DeNora Getachew highlighted the organization’s rich history and set the course for its new direction.

“Today, we are living through another generational shift. In 1993 we were engaging young Gen X’ers and Millennials. Now, our sweet spot is Gen Z. And Gen Alpha is right behind them with the oldest turning 13 this year – just old enough to be a DoSomething member,” said Getachew. “This moment calls for us to do our part to help young people find their civic identity and support  them in their moving from civically curious to civically committed. We’re going beyond parallel activism in isolation, beyond raising awareness, we’re changing how we’re doing it, because we know there’s more to do.”

DeNora Getachew.

The evening continued with a mix of storytelling and fellowship and included remarks from DoSomething co-founder Andrew Shue, an auction featuring the work of celebrated visual artist Wardell Milan as well as stirring performances by violinist Kersten Stevens and poet Fanta Ballo. The gala culminated with an epic set from hip hop icon Doug E. Fresh in celebration of hip hop’s 50th anniversary.

Additionally, DoSomething honored the class of 2023 honorees who are leading substantive change locally, nationally and globally with award presentations throughout the evening.

Andrew Shue.
Wardell Milan.
Kersten Stevens.
Fanta Ballo.
Doug E Fresh.

The 2023 Visionary Vanguard Award recipients were Marley Dias and Aditi Mayer.

DoSomething also unveiled the winners of its Generation Future Award, which recognizes emerging changemakers who will shape the future of youth-led impact. Over 1,000 young people applied for the award and 10 finalists were voted on by their peers. The three winners were celebrated onstage and presented with a $5,000 grant to help them continue their mission and amplify their impact.

DeNora Getachew, Marley Dias, and Icema Gibbs. Dias has been recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the 25 most influential teens and was the youngest member of the Forbes 30 under 30 list to date as named in 2018.
DeNora Getachew and Aditi Mayer. Mayer started her activism journey in 2010 and has gone on to become a prominent climate activist. As a DoSomething member, Aditi has now been featured in Vogue, Elle, and WWD as a fashion industry changemaker — and was named a National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow in 2020 for documenting stories of social and environmental justice in India’s fashions system.

The 2023 Generation Future Award Winners were: Maksim Batuyev, Jasmine Lewis, and Ananya Pinnamaneni.

Convening a host of notables, activists and advocates across industries for an unforgettable night, special guests included: Tracy Garcia, Anna Molinari, Estella Struck,  Savannah Vinson, Alexis Williams, and Sophie Boren.

DeNora Getachew and Jasmine Lewis. Jasmine Lewis has been deeply committed to building a culture of civic engagement through storytelling from a young age. In holding a variety of leadership roles, she has honed her ability to approach this work from a diverse and intersectional perspective including serving as a Fellow of the South for When We All Vote, a Civic Season Design Fellow with Made by Us, a Freedom of Expression Fellow with PEN America, and a Fellow with Civics Unplugged. She has leveraged these learnings to launch TALMBAT, a multimedia storytelling platform that invites underrepresented changemakers to share their story as a tool for celebrating our shared humanity, building connections and imagining new possibilities for impact and collective liberation.
DeNora Getachew and Maksim Batuyev. In 2020, Maksim Batuyev (25) was part of the team who launched Force of Nature, an organization leading workshops for 16-25 year olds worldwide to help them step up in the face of the climate crisis. He brought the Climate Cafe initiative to major institutions like UCLA and local community-spaces and tea shops. Additionally, Batuyev is  a musician and centers his work on environmental loss, ecoanxiety, and grief and continues sharing his insights as a Gen Z advisor of the Climate Mental Health Network.
DeNora Getachew and Ananya Pinnamaneni. At the age of seven, Ananya Pinnamaneni (16) began her commitment to gender equity when she learned about the practice of female infanticide in India. To start sharing her learnings with the next generation, Pinnamaneni wrote the children’s book Feminism 101: A Guide to Gender Equality. Pinnamaneni launched a registered 501(c)3 — Gender SHEquality — that focuses on sharing mini-lessons about gender equity.

Proceeds from the Futures Ball Gala benefit DoSomething’s ongoing work as the hub for youth activism that fuels young people to change the world.

The 2023 Futures Ball is presented by (Gap Inc.)

For more information, visit

Jason Mathias, John Faucher, DeNora Getachew, Andrew Shue, and Cory Levy.
L. to r.: Aditi Mayer and Marley Dias; Alexis Williams.
Jasmine Lewis, DeNora Getachew, Ananya Pinnamaneni, and Maksim Batuyev.
Estella Struck, Tracy Garcia, and Savannah Vinson.
Christopher Griffin.
Kim A. Reynolds.
The afterparty.

Photographs by Henry Cohen, John Jacono, Betsy Pinover Schiff

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