Every year, the United Nations General Assembly transforms New York into a sea of security, full of secret service details with conspicuous earpieces and a labyrinth of barricades to accommodate the relocation of the globe’s foremost political powers, all concentrated within a few blocks of Manhattan. Such was the case last night on the Upper East Side, where the sidewalks in front of the many embassies and luxury hotels were crowded with a mix of admirers and protesters, but a much more serene scene unfolded on the top floor of Casa Cruz.
Here, the Maverick Collective, a group of female philanthropists who make investments in the fields of health and reproductive rights founded by Population Services International in partnership with Melinda French Gates and Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess Mette-Marit, welcomed Huma Abedin, MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke, and Alina Cho for a fireside chat. The focus was not light cocktail party banter, but instead an examination of gender equality and a look back at how Abedin and Burke found themselves thrust into the spotlight as a powerful voice for women the world over. “I poured my heart out, and there is no fear once you just embrace the process,” Abedin said of writing her memoir, Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds. “One of the things I tell young women is to do the things that scare you most, because you’re probably pretty good at it.”
The room applauded before convening downstairs in the Casa Cruz townhouse for cocktails and further celebration, marking the tenth anniversary of the Maverick Collective and the recognition of six female activists from the fields of climate change, reproductive rights, and social justice. The honorees—Favianna Rodriguez, Hafsat Abiola, Hali Lee, Michele Goodwin, Pat Mitchell, and Shruthi Kumar—could all be found dotted around the room fielding congratulatory hugs, and were welcomed to accept their awards by Maverick Collective by PSI co-chair, Alexandra Idol. “These six honorees truly embody what it means to be a maverick,” she told partygoers. “They do the difficult, uncomfortable, and often high-risk work in their communities necessary to drive innovation and spark social change to help people everywhere thrive.”