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URI Celebration

A Decade Honoring the Human-Animal Bond

The 2024 URI Celebration was truly an inspiring event that honored our clients, partners, and supporters who embody URI’s mission. The evening also raised crucial funds to support our transformative services and programs for the community. We marked the 10th anniversary of People and Animals Living Safely (PALS), celebrating the program’s impact in honoring the vital bond between domestic violence survivors and their pets. Relive the highlights of this joyous night, as we reflect on a decade of PALS and look forward to continuing our essential work together.

Watch The 2024 URI Celebration Highlights

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2024 URI Celebration

Event Highlights

John Quiñones

Anchor, Correspondent, ABC News, 20/20 & Host of “What Would You Do?”

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Combining a moving life story, an exceptional career, incomparable insights, and a powerful presence, John Quiñones has emerged as one of the most inspiring keynote speakers in the speaking world today. His moving presentations focus on his odds-defying journey, celebrate the life-changing power of education, champion the Latino American Dream, and provide thought-provoking insights into human nature and ethical behavior. A lifetime of “never taking no for an answer” took Quiñones from migrant farm work and poverty to more than 30 years at ABC News and the anchor desk at 20/20 and Primetime. Along the way, he broke through barriers, won the highest accolades, and became a role model for many. Known for truly connecting with audiences and leaving them uplifted and inspired, Quiñones delivers a powerful message of believing in one’s self, never giving up, and always, always doing the right thing. As host and creator of What Would You Do?, the highly-rated, hidden camera ethical dilemma newsmagazine, Quiñones has literally become “the face of doing the right thing” to millions of fans. It’s a role that he has enthusiastically embraced off-camera, with a popular book and keynote presentations that challenge both business and general audiences to examine the What Would You Do? moments we face every day. This work and his many achievements were recently recognized with honorary Doctorate degrees from Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia and Utah Valley University.

• From the Barrio to Network Television: John Quiñones’ Inspiring Journey
• What Would You Do? Words of Wisdom about Doing the Right Thing
• What Would You Do?: Business Edition
• Opportunity through Education: John Quiñones’ American Dream
• A 20/20 Vision for America: Building Bridges, Not Walls

Featured Artist

Danielia Cotton

Singer, Songwriter & Guitarist

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With a voice instantly recognizable as hers and hers alone, Danielia Cotton emerges again with a powerful soulful/rock sound and uncompromising artistry. Having been compared to rock counterparts both male (Lenny Kravitz, The Black Crowes) and female (Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt) she dares to borrow from the greats to fight in that arena and manages to come out with a truly original sound.

This time around she offers us a much-needed feel-good anthem – “Good Day”. This upbeat Motown/rock-themed tune with an insanely infectious hook takes hold of you, dares you to smile, and instantly lifts the spirit. Cotton teams up for the first time with Nashville lyricist Jeff Cohen, a 5-time BMI award-winning, Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer/publisher. He has a body of songs with artists such as The Band Perry, Evan and Jaron, The Shires, Marc Broussard, and The Spin Doctors just to name a few. Cohen and Cotton’s chemistry adds up to instantly memorable, gritty, and timeless hooks. This is one musical partnership you’ll want to look out for. With the birth of this collaborating team, the level of Cotton’s work continues to rise to new levels as she continues to up her game musically on all fronts.
Danielia Cotton came from a small town in New Jersey with few faces of color like her own. Although her hometown is now a fairly racially diverse area, it was her angst-ridden youth that helped her discover rock ’n roll music, which turned out to be her perfect soundtrack. She is music legacy – she grew up watching her mother and aunts, who were professional vocalists perform until she herself became inspired and brave enough to take the leap and perform her own self-penned songs.

Cotton took no shortcuts, as her single mother stressed education and supported her attending Bennington College. She was one of the first of three generations in her family to attend college. After graduating she eventually found herself relocating to New York City, where she began her professional musical journey. After being discovered and basically having a label created to launch her, her city connections led her to producer Kevin Salem (Rachael Yamagata, Chocolate Genius etc.) and a powerful first album that launched her career, “Small White Town”. Shortly prior to her release, she was selected as Artist to Watch by WXPN out of Philadelphia.

All of Cotton’s original work has been influenced and pulled from her life. She makes a habit of choosing the events and experiences that affected her, that she is able to emotional recall safely as her powerful performances, as she puts in her own words, “are a recreation of those life-defining moments”.

Cotton recently released during the COVID shutdown the EP “A Different War”, in which she offers her personal experience of traversing through the intensity of current social issues, racism, greed and the tempestuous waters of love and relationships. As always, her album represents an eclectic musical range, with Cotton being the element that threads it all together. Cotton embodies true artistry untainted by compromise which explains her somewhat long journey to attain serious recognition. Her new album with the eponymous single “Good Day” is slated for a November 2021 release. Once again, she will go from soul to arena-like rock to a beautiful moaning blues ballad. She has been long fighting for a seat at the coveted music round table but refuses to sacrifice her musical values or sound. She hopes to succeed but says, “If one fan is changed you’ve succeeded. Our definition of success constantly changes as we evolve, but hey, like The Temptations sing, get ready cause here I come”.


Adrienne E. Adams

Speaker of the New York City Council
Visionary Award

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Adrienne Eadie Adams is the Speaker of the New York City Council, leading the most diverse and first women-majority Council in city history as the body’s first African American Speaker. She is also the first woman to represent Council District 28, which includes the neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, and South Ozone Park. Under the leadership of Speaker Adams, the Council has been tackling long-standing inequities through legislation and budget investments, including women’s health, racial disparities in maternal health, support for underserved crime victims, and inequities in the city’s workforce. Speaker Adams also helped establish CUNY Reconnect, a program that has helped thousands of former CUNY students of working age return to college in pursuit of a degree that advances their economic opportunities. Her leadership has set a new tone for the Council’s leadership in addressing the housing crisis, resulting in the approval of over 40 land use projects in 2022 that will produce 12,000 housing units. She also released an aggressive Housing Agenda with a Fair Housing Framework that prioritizes deepening affordability, housing preservation, and homeownership. Speaker Adams previously served as Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. Prior to serving in the City Council, Speaker Adams served as Chair of Queens Community Board 12, a Trustee of the Queens Public Library, and Co-Chair of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council. She previously worked as a Corporate Trainer and a Child Development Associate Instructor. A mother and grandmother, Speaker Adams lives in Jamaica with her husband.

Banfield Foundation

Charitable Partner
PALS Animal Champion Award

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Banfield Foundation was launched in 2015 with a vision to make preventive care possible for the pets that need it most through programs that serve to break barriers to veterinary care, shelter and disaster relief. Since then, more than $22 million in grants and resources has been awarded to nonprofit and animal welfare partners, including URI and the PALS program.

Grants in support of the Harmony House Banfield Foundation Pet Haven in 2019 and the Banfield Foundation Pet Park in 2021 are two of the Foundation’s most significant awards that speak to URI’s partnership and commitment to helping pets and people stay together. A charitable arm of Banfield Pet Hospital, a segment under the Mars Veterinary Health umbrella, the Banfield Foundation also works to deploy teams of veterinary professionals to make care accessible in under-resourced communities across the nation. Together with its sister charities, BluePearl Cares and VCA Charities, Banfield Foundation strives to support programs and initiatives that ultimately work towards one collective purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.

Elizabeth Rose

Advocate & Former PALS Client
Triumph Award

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Elizabeth Rose, our esteemed 2024 URI Celebration Triumph Award recipient, epitomizes resilience and courage. In 2019, alongside her daughter Hazel and their cherished cat, Bebe, Elizabeth courageously escaped an abusive home and sought refuge at an Urban Resource Institute (URI) domestic violence shelter.

At URI, Elizabeth found solace in the People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program, which provided her with a safe haven and a supportive community. Despite enduring injuries from the abuse, Elizabeth found safety and healing at URI. With the unwavering support of URI staff and programs, she underwent surgery and quietly healed in her newfound home with Hazel and Bebe, all while embarking on their journey to permanent housing.

As a survivor of domestic violence, Elizabeth fearlessly shares her story, highlighting the invaluable role of the PALS Program in her healing journey. Her remarkable resilience serves as an inspiration and beacon of hope for survivors and their pets, everywhere. Let us come together to celebrate Elizabeth’s unshakable spirit and advocacy at the 2024 URI Celebration.

Jean Shafiroff

Philanthropist, Author & TV Host
Trailblazer Award

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Jean Shafiroff is a philanthropist, humanitarian, TV host, writer, and the author of the book Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give. Jean is often referred to as “the first lady of philanthropy” by the press because of her generosity and extensive work as a volunteer fundraiser and leader in the philanthropic world. She serves on the boards of many charitable organizations and each year, she chairs upwards of eight different charity galas. She also hosts and underwrites large cocktail parties for different charities in her New York homes. Among the many causes she champions are those involved in women’s rights, the rights of underserved populations, health care, and animal welfare.

Jean serves on the boards of the Southampton Hospital Association, Mission Society of NYC, Couture Council of the Museum at FIT, French Heritage Society, Casita Maria, the NY Women’s Foundation, Global Strays, and Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Honorary Board. A Catholic, she has served on The Jewish Board, a large mental health service charity, for 28 years and now is one of their Honorary Trustees. Jean served as the national spokesperson for American Humane’s “Feed the Hungry” COVID-19 program, an initiative that raised $1,000,000 to provide food for over 1,000,000 animals living in 109 different shelters across the United States. Jean Shafiroff has been honored many times by groups including American Humane, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Mission Society of NYC, French Heritage Society, Southampton Animal Shelter, Surgeons of Hope, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, Operation Warrior Shield, Viennese Opera Ball, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, Dominican Women’s Development Center, Fashion for Development, NYS Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright’s Women’s Leadership Awards, She Exist Magazine, Pet Philanthropy Circle, Animal Zone International, Health Advocates for Older People, Southampton African American Museum, Women’s eNews, Youth Counseling League, the NYC International Film Festival Foundation, The Jewish Board, and Hadassah. In December 2020, Dan’s Papers named her “Philanthropist of the Year” at its Power Women of the East End award ceremony. Since then, Dan’s Papers has honored Jean Shafiroff at least three additional times for her philanthropic work.

In September 2022, she was officially proclaimed the “First Lady of Philanthropy of New York” by New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, who represents New York’s 76th District, in Manhattan. Then in November 2022, the 117th US Congress recognized Shafiroff for her work in philanthropy. This recognition was given by US Representative Carolyn Maloney, who represented the 14th Congressional District, in New York.

In 2024, Jean Shafiroff became a member of The Global Mental Health Task Force to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #3.

Jean is the producer and host of the television show “Successful Philanthropy,” which airs six times weekly through LTV studios in East Hampton, NY, and several times each week on Sun20TV in Southampton, NY. On her TV program, Jean interviews politicians, celebrities, business leaders, philanthropic leaders, and has even interviewed a US presidential candidate.

Jean is a graduate of Columbia University and the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University. She holds a BS in Physical Therapy and an MBA in Finance all from Columbia. In between college and graduate school, she worked for one year as a physical therapist at the inner-city hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City. She worked with patients living at or below the poverty level. After earning her MBA, she worked as an investment banker on Wall Street for a number of years.

Jean Shafiroff is also widely recognized as an Instagram influencer. Her Instagram account @JeanShafiroff has over 1.2 million followers. For more information about Jean Shafiroff, please visit jeanshafiroff.com. Instagram: @JeanShafiroff @JeanShafiroffAtWork
Facebook: Jean Shafiroff, JeanShafiroff, Style & Philanthropy,
X/Twitter: @JeanShafiroff

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver SponsorS

Bronze Sponsor

Hirschen Singer & Epstein LLP
Whittaker Mack III, MBA, CFP®
Carla Smith, EdD
The Royce Family Fund
Banfield Foundation
Carmen J. Smith
Capital Market

Partner Sponsors

BridgePoint Associates
Nathaniel M. Fields
Food Bazaar
Gwen and Allen Merrill
Grace and Kenneth Pollak
Ropes & Gray LLP
The Wright Group
Taa Grays
Susan and Alan Kolod
The Durst Organization
Mutual of America Financial Group

General Sponsors

2390 Hoffman LLC
CBIZ Marks Paneth LLC
Heidi Hamilton
Quest Builders Group, Inc.
Beverly Riddick
NYU McSilver Institute
Urban Architectural Initiatives (UAI)
Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE)
Marshall & Sterling Employee Benefits
TD Bank
Littler Mendelson
James E. Fitzgerald, Inc.

Supporter Sponsors

Phyllis Arnold  and Deidre Leipziger
Berkley Human Services
Bridgett Brown
Jenny Einhorn
Nina Y. Esaki, PhD, MSW, MBA
Jill and Richard Fitzburgh
JLS Cost Management
Leda Health
Tania Jospitre
Klearview Appliances 
Total Care RX, Inc. 
Cari and Christopher Robinson
Exec Solutions  

Sharon & Chad Royce
Sharp Electronics
Jasmine and Joey Silver
The Beacon Group
The Carroll Family
Philip Tugendrajch
Jennifer White-Reid
Roy A. Williams
Nationwide Pet Insurance
Esther Lainis
Robert Derector Associates
Joseph Fichera

Event committee

  • Bridgett Brown
  • Meghan Edwards
  • Kim Fields, CMM, CMP
  • Jill & Richard Fitzburgh
  • Taa Grays, JD
  • Deanna Melluso
  • Gwen & Allen Merrill
  • Alycia M. Powell, JD
  • Sharon & Charles Royce
  • Robert J. Sattler
  • Helen C. Shelton, MS
  • Jasmine & Joey Silver
  • Carmen J. Smith, MPA
  • Linda Wolff


  • Whittaker Mack III, MBA, CFP®
      Chair, Board of Trustees
  • Phyllis Arnold, JD
  • Vivian Y. Bright, MS
  • Nina Y. Esaki, PhD, MSW, MBA
  • DeCosta Headley, Sr.
  • Alan Kolod
  • Esther Lainis
  • Adrienne Y. Peterson
  • Kenneth Pollak, CPA
  • Alycia M. Powell, JD
  • Vivien L. Salmon, PhD
  • Carmen J. Smith, MPA
  • Philip Tugendrajch, JD
  • Roy A. Williams
  • Tabitha Williams