Luminaries filled the audience—WNBA players, Olympic gold medalists, corporate executives and the first solo female evening news anchor in the United States. Katie Couric received the 2011 WNBA Inspiration Award at the league’s Inspiring Women’s luncheon. Four-time Olympic gold medalist and former WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie was honored with the CieAura Pioneer Award.
Their speeches captured the rousing theme of the luncheon, but audience members also were captivated by Tonya Ingram, who was named the BBVA Leader of Tomorrow. Ingram, who recently completed her second year at New York University, spoke about growing up in New York’s South Bronx and how small her world felt. But when she was 12, she came in contact with volunteers from New York Cares, a unique organization that runs volunteer programs for 1,200 nonprofit organizations.
“To invest your time into someone else’s life is the biggest gift you can give anyone,” said Ingram, who benefited from New York Cares’ Read to Me, Urban Adventures and SAT Prep programs. “New York Cares volunteers invested time in me and it made a huge impact on my life. I want to continue that act of giving.”
Ingram, who earlier this year won the 2011 New York Knicks Poetry Slam, said she has the opportunity to design her own major at NYU and hopes to create something that combines social justice education with the arts. She also is actively involved in volunteer work, hoping to positively impact others as well.