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Press - Emery 2021


NY AG Letitia James, ‘Pose’ Star Dominique Jackson Among Honorees at Hetrick-Martin Institute Gala


The LGBTQIA+ Youth Organization’s Annual Emery Awards Takes On New Format


New York, NY, October 7, 2021 – Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) announced today they will be hosting their annual Emery Awards on November 18, 2021 at a new venue, Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City. This is the first major ‘in-person’ event for the LGBTQIA+ youth organization since the pandemic brought the country to a halt. During the downtime, HMI used the opportunity to recalibrate its largest fundraiser—shifting from the traditional gala to a more inclusive format—in the wake of a climate where mental health and societal issues have become increasingly prevalent and longstanding racial inequities and social justice are being confronted.

Coined as the “Emery Awards Ball”, this year’s event will celebrate the Kiki community and ballroom culture with a Ballroom Showcase and Photo Exhibition featuring some of the most important ballroom icons that have shaped the community, including an in-depth look into the Kiki scene.

Four of this year’s honorees—Aisha Diori, Luna Luis Ortiz, Raul R. River and the late Arbert Santana—are some of the Kiki community’s founders who have made a significant impact in the ballroom scene and in the lives of thousands of young people who have relied on this niche community to grow and engage with others like themselves. Dominique Jackson, who played Elektra Abundance in the award-winning FX television series, Pose and New York Attorney General Letitia James will also be honored for their contributions to the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities.

Known nationally for providing a safe and supportive environment for all young people regardless of sexual orientation or gender equality, HMI’s primary constituency are LGBTQIA+ youth of color. The youth ballroom scene—known as “kiki” started in the early 2000's by HMI and GMHC—provides a place for younger members of the ballroom scene to gain exposure, competition and leadership experience, all against a continued backdrop of safe-sex messaging and with the support of LGBTQIA+ community based organizations/nonprofits. The first participants of those programs are now adults, who have taken the legacy of that culture forward and are changing the world in beautiful ways.

HMI felt it was imperative to spotlight and engage its community and to re-shape the narrative. “These past two years have shifted nonprofit organizations into unchartered territories in how we fundraise. For us at HMI, it was an opportunity to reset. It was particularly important to us to make the event more relevant in a new era where anti-racism, equity and inclusion awareness is vital and affects the very young people we serve,” remarked HMI Chief Development Officer, Amy Harclerode. “We’ve just begun promoting the Emery Awards Ball and we’re already witnessing increased excitement and engagement from long-term donors, event attendees, corporate partners HMI Board of Directors and even our volunteers. Reaction to this new concept is landing exactly where we hoped.”

HMI Chief Executive Officer Joe Pressley adds, “As the new CEO of HMI, I’m extremely proud to be part of an amazing team of staff and board that has re-imagined our signature event in a way that centers the voices of those we serve. This will be my first year attending in my new role, and I couldn’t be more thrilled and look forward to welcoming everyone to what will be a spectacular evening.”

To learn more about the 2021 Emery Awards Ball and purchase tickets, visit Follow the event on social media at #emeryball.

About Hetrick-Martin Institute

Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) is proud to be the nation’s oldest and largest organization helping gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth between the ages of 13 and 24 to reach their full potential. Through a comprehensive package of direct services and referrals, the organization fosters healthy youth development. HMI’s staff promotes excellence in the delivery of youth services and uses its expertise to create innovative programs that other organizations may use as models.

HMI serves a diverse community, the vast majority of whom identify as Black or people of color. The youth organization is dedicated to building its approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at all levels, throughout its operations and functions.

Media Contact:

Amy Harclerode
Chief Development Officer