Gala Celebrates the Power of Community


Executive Director Roderick L. Jones at the podium

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What sort of society do we want to live in?”

That was the question posed by Goddard Riverside Executive Director Roderick L. Jones in his opening remarks at our 17th annual gala. And it was answered throughout the evening, from the opening notes of our Young People’s Chorus, to the closing speech by honoree Paul Krugman Ð as we celebrated the importance of investing in people and strengthening community.

In his brief remarks, Nobel Prize winner and New York Times columnist Krugman highlighted the power of “people reaching out to other people.”

“Without policies that help those in need, there’s no hope at all. But policy can only do so much,” he said, noting that sometimes the only thing that can help is human interaction.

“That’s what Goddard does,” he said. “It’s just awe-inspiring to see what a handful of good people really trying to do the best for the people who need their help the most — how they can transform people’s lives.”

The Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice highlighted some of the challenges Americans face. This year, for the first time, the prize was shared by two books. Jan Haldipur’s No Place on the Corner [NYU Press, 2018] documents how aggressive police tactics such as stop-and-frisk oppressed South Bronx residents and turned public areas into ghost towns. An American Summer by Alex Kotlowitz [Nan A. Talese, 2019] traces the far-reaching impacts of gun violence on Chicago neighborhoods.

“We did this because we think these books are very complementary,” explained Douglas Bauer, chair of the judges’ panel and executive director of The Clark Foundation. “Between them they tell the very unfortunate story of the impact of gun violence on urban communities.”

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City at Goddard Riverside charmed the crowd with a high-energy set, finishing with their signature song, “Give Us Hope.”

More than 300 guests filled Gotham Hall in downtown Manhattan, raising nearly $500,000 to support Goddard’s programs for the community. It’s money we will invest in continuing to answer Rod’s question. What kind of society do we want? One where every human being is valued and supported to live their best life.