Spark Breakfast - March 8, 2022

Meet our Honoree Clara Wu Tsai

Clara Wu Tsai

Clara Wu Tsai is a businesswoman, investor, and philanthropist with a lifelong interest in advancing knowledge, culture, and the arts for the benefit of society. In 2020, Ms. Wu Tsai and her husband launched the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation Social Justice Fund with a $50 million commitment for racial justice and economic mobility in Brooklyn over the coming ten years.  

In addition, Ms. Wu Tsai is a founding partner of the REFORM Alliance, which seeks reforms in the criminal justice system. In 2021, she was recognized as a “Champion of Justice” by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for her work on social and racial justice.  

In science and technology, the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation supports the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance, the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford University, and the Wu Tsai Institute at Yale University for understanding human cognition. 

Ms. Wu Tsai serves on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington. She was an executive producer of Into the Okavango, a 2018 conservation documentary, and Blue Bayou, a 2021 drama. 
 
Ms. Wu Tsai and her husband are the owners of the NBA Brooklyn Nets, the WNBA New York Liberty, and the NLL San Diego Seals. Previously, she was General Manager of the Hong Kong operations of Taobao, China’s largest online shopping website, and a Vice President at American Express in New York and Hong Kong. She holds a B.A. in International Relations and a M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University, and a M.B.A. from Harvard University.


Meet our Host Ana Gasteyer

Ana Gasteyer

Ana Gasteyer is an actress, comedian and singer best known for her incomparable work on Saturday Night Live. During her six-year stint, she created some of  the most iconic SNL characters, including middle school music teacher Bobbie Moughan-Culp, NPR radio host Margaret Jo, Lilith Fair poetess Cinder Calhoun, as well as spot-on impressions of Martha Stewart, Celine Dion and Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Ana headlines the recently premiered NBC comedy series American Auto set in Detroit and focused on Payne Motors. New CEO (Ana) shakes things up and her leadership, experience and savvy is only slightly offset by her complete lack of knowledge about cars.  

On stage, Ana has starred in a range of theatre productions since her Broadway debut in the revival of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In 2006, Ana starred in Wicked on Broadway as “Elphaba” and originated that role for the Chicago production. Her credits also include Tony-nominated Broadway productions of The Royal Family and The Threepenny Opera, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and MTC’s Kimberly Akimbo.

Ana is also a highly accomplished singer and songwriter. Her recent album of seasonal favorites and holiday originals Sugar and Booze topped numerous “Best Holiday Album” lists. Ana’s first album, I’m Hip, received equally rapturous reviews.

Ana and her husband Charlie McKittrick are proud Brooklynites who have called the borough home for 20 years.


Our 2022 Spark Prize Winners

 

Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) was founded in 2001 by Arab immigrant and Arab American leaders in Bay Ridge to advocate for the community in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Today, AAANY serves Brooklyn’s Arab immigrant, refugee, and Muslim communities, helping over 6,000 beneficiaries annually through its women’s empowerment and adult literacy programs, immigration legal assistance, mental health and domestic violence support services, and youth programming. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AAANY has transitioned to virtual programming and has transformed its office into a direct relief hub, distributing 22,000+ food boxes and $450,000 in direct cash for clients in crisis, creating a laptop lending program, and working with community partners to provide relief to domestic violence survivors.

Black Women's Blueprint was founded in Brooklyn in 2008, and is a lifeline for survivors of gender-based violence, and provides birth education and maternal health support. The organization’s Sexual Abuse to Maternal Mortality Pipeline report and institute has pioneered a campaign to desilo these movements and affirm the link between trauma healing and maternal health. Each year, it engages doulas, midwives, birth-workers, and sexual assault advocates to reach 5,000 survivors at 50 different locations through its Sistas Van mobile health unit, and trains 800 clinicians and medical personnel. In addition, it is building a Reconciliation Center in Upstate New York to offer Brooklyn women space to heal and give birth safely. 

Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC) is a Black-led, membership-based organization of primarily low-to-moderate income Central Brooklyn residents founded in 2011. BMC builds power and self-determination in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights’ Black communities by nurturing local leadership, waging campaigns, and winning concrete improvements in people’s lives. Through intersectional organizing, BMC addresses a range of issues that define a whole community, including police accountability and community safety, food sovereignty, environmental justice, anti-gentrification media production, electoral justice, and tenant organizing.

Groundswell Community Mural Project was founded in 1996 to bring together artists, youth, and community organizations to use art as a tool for social change. Its projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue. Each year, Groundswell engages over 450 youth, led by trained teaching artists, and in partnership with community partner organizations and city agencies, in the presentation of afterschool, summer, school-based, and community commissioned programs. In addition, Groundswell hosts free, often youth-led, events and programs for the general public. 

Weeksville Heritage Center upholds the legacy of one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America, using historic preservation, education, the arts, and a social justice lens to keep this unique chapter of American history relevant and resonant for contemporary audiences, particularly Black residents in Central Brooklyn. The Weeksville Heritage Center is the steward of the historic Hunterfly Road Houses, and serves as an education space, community hub, and presenter of free or low-cost recreational and artistic programming—all with a nexus to the Weeksville legacy of self-determination. Having emerged from a crippling financial crisis in 2019, Weeksville reestablished a record of fiscal accountability under a new strategic plan, and was included in New York City’s esteemed Cultural Institutions Group in 2020.