Jan 17, 2018

Education Spotlighted at Annual Phoenix Gala


On September 16, 2017, close to 600 local business leaders, dignitaries and residents turned out for the annual Pratham Phoenix Gala. Held at the idyllic Scottsdale Hilton with its breathtaking views of Camelback Mountain, the event raised $160,000 for Pratham programs.

The keynote speaker, Amin Maredia, CEO of Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc., inspired listeners with his insight into the factors that lead to an individual’s success, calling it, “the result of an action of one or multiple other people, not just your own action.”

Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO of Pratham, moved attendees with an account of her personal journey – from her first exposure to the challenges of educating the poor in downtrodden areas in Chicago to her current work in India. According to Dr. Banerji, the goal is clear: “to provide the basic foundational building blocks of reading and writing, so a child can avail the benefit of education and be ready for real life.”

And a surprise appearance by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey continued the event’s theme of transforming lives through education. The Governor commended Pratham for its “truly exceptional” work and cited the organization as inspiration for his own focus on education in the state of Arizona. The presence of local politicians, including Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and his wife, Joanne Lane, and State Representative Lela Ashton, brought a special honor and recognition to the burgeoning chapter.

Local educator Kathleen Purdy was honored for her work with the Scottsdale Unified School District. Guests were then treated to a “Dancing with the Stars” contest showcasing performances by local talent, as well as cocktails and Indian cuisine provided by OM Indian Bistro. The evening also featured a live auction hosted by Selene Nelson.

The resounding success of the gala came as no surprise to Dr. Sheena Banerjee, Chapter President, who explained, “every year we see an increase in participation and enthusiasm for Pratham’s innovative programs. Special thanks to everyone who made the event possible and to our sponsors, including BBVA Compass Bank, UnisLink, Medical Diagnostic Imaging Group, and BSC (Brain & Spine Center).