Arthur Ashe’s 29th Annual Black Tie & Sneakers Gala NYC-2023

By: Gloria Smith, Associate Editor for World Liberty TV


Pat Wang, J.D., Ernest Sgaglione, and and Jenny Libien, MD, PhD, to be Honored with the Institute’s Prestigious Arthur Ashe Leadership Award.

Brett Wright Chairman of the Arthur Ashe Institute with his wife Yvonna K Wright

New York, NY (October 19, 2023) – The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH), a community-based health equity organization, will hold SportsBall 2023, the 29th Annual Black Tie & Sneakers Gala, this evening, Thursday, October 19, 2023, at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan at 6PM.

SportsBall 2023 is a celebration with a purpose. Each year, the Institute honors individuals and organizations that are making significant contributions to urban communities in the areas of health, education, medical research, community service, and philanthropy.

2023 Honorees & Officers

The funds raised at SportsBall support the Institute’s innovative community health education programs and research initiatives.

This year’s event will honor Pat Wang, J.D., President & CEO of Healthfirst, Ernest Sgaglione, owner of Café 101in Brooklyn, and Jenny Libien, MD, PhD, Chair of Pathology, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, as the 2023 recipients of the Arthur Ashe Institute Leadership Award.

Dr Abbey with David Ushery NBC News Anchor & Emcee of the Event

This award is presented to those who are living embodiments of Arthur Ashe’s legacy, dedicating their time, expertise and influence to a cause greater than themselves.

Dr Abbey with Doc Gooden Baseball Player & Auctioneer of event Howie Schwartz

“We are so honored to celebrate Pat Wang, Ernest Sgaglione, Jenny Libien, and Arthur Ashe’s legacy,” said Dr. Marilyn Fraser, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute.

Dr Abbey with Dr Edgar Mandeville Chair Emeritus AAIUH

“It is such a privilege to mark his continuing impact on the communities he championed. He believed that immense positive change can be accomplished through community engagement and education.

Capelli Sports Sneakers given to guests

We are determined to push ever closer to achieving health equity among our most vulnerable communities, through health promotion, linkages to care, and encouraging the next generation of healthcare professionals of color for the future.”

Brett Wright Welcoming remarks

Ms. Wang is a passionate advocate for health equity, especially in underserved communities adversely impacted by disease, health disparities, and socioeconomic barriers to optimal health.

Dr Abbey with Harry Carson Former Gaints Player & NFL Hall of Famer

She has an active voice in healthcare policy and community advocacy, and she is committed to increasing diversity across all levels at Healthfirst, to ensure the organization also reflects these values.

Howie Schwartz Auctioneer Doc Gooden helping out with live auction

“For more than 30 years, Healthfirst has served diverse communities and increased greater access to high-quality, affordable healthcare,” said Ms. Wang. “I am honored to receive the Arthur Ashe Leadership Award.

2023 Arthur Ashe Gala Sponsors

At Healthfirst, we share a mission with the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health to advocate for social justice, health equity and inclusion and look forward to many more years of collaborative, impactful work together.”

Mr. Sgaglione is the owner of Café 101 at SUNY Downstate, where he is known for his elegant and high-quality catering, providing a unique “wow” factor for all his clients, including those served by the Arthur Ashe Institute.

Dr Abbey with Dr Ruth Browne President & CEO Ronald McDonald House

He is the go-to chef for the Institute’s Downstate-based events, especially for the Institute’s Health Science Academy, where he celebrates the young students and expresses his pride in their successes through his culinary masterpieces.

His catering is widely welcomed by community members and students, whom he makes feel special with the ambiance of elegance that he creates with his presentations.

Dr Abbey with Honorable Mayor Ted Green of East Orange New Jersey

Ms. Libien, MD, PhD, is the Chair of Pathology at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. She has been an impactful mentor and role model for students in the Health Science Academy (HSA), stepping up to invest her time and attention in nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals.

Dr Abbey with Dr. Marilyn Fraser CEO, Arthur Ashe Institute

As a neuropathologist, her current major research focus, in collaboration with Dr. Alejandro Ivan Hernandez, is studying how alterations in PARP1, an enzyme necessary for long-term memory, may contribute to memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Abbey with LeeAnn M. Hicks Manager, Corporate Affairs at the Arthur Ashe Institute

The evening will be hosted by David Ushery, lauded anchor for NBC 4 New York’s 4 PM and 11 PM weekday newscasts and one of the region’s most respected and accomplished television journalists.

He is a member of the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame and a member of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, New York Chapter’s Silver Circle. This year, he is marking 30 years of journalistic excellence and service to the Tri-State.

Dr Abbey with Markuann Smith Executive Producer & Actor God Father of Harlem

This year, Capelli Sport, the global multi-sports brand, will serve as the official footwear provider for SportsBall 2023.

Guests playing games during Cocktail hour

As the footwear partner, Capelli Sport will provide sneakers to be used as part of SportsBall’s time-honored tradition of presenting guests with a pair of sneakers, which has become an integral and fun component of the gala’s dress code.

Other sponsors providing gifts for the evening’s guests include Miss Jessie’s Natural Hair Products and Colgate.

Dr Marilyn Fraser making remarks

“The important and impactful work of the Institute would not be possible without the support of our partners, our donors, and the communities that we work with and serve each day,” said Brett Wright, Chairman of the Board.

“Our honorees embody the leadership, compassion, and legacy of Arthur Ashe, through their accomplished contributions in their respective fields. We are honored to celebrate them.”

Future Doctors of Suny Downtown

Tennis champion and humanitarian Arthur Ashe founded the Institute in 1992, just two months before his death from AIDS, in response to the disproportionate amount of illness and death in urban communities from preventable diseases.

Arthur knew that many of these diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, were the result of inadequate health care delivery, late detection, and insufficient health education.

Hundreds of People in attendance

Even as he was facing his own mortality, Arthur committed himself to making sure that quality healthcare was not reserved for the wealthy and famous.

The Institute is a recognized leader and pioneer in developing culturally competent health services that address racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in health.

Jenny Libien, MD, PhD, Chair of Pathology being honored

The Institute works tirelessly year-round to address these issues that exacerbate health disparities among communities of color.

To address the chronic shortage of underrepresented populations in the healthcare workforce, the Institute and the SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University collaborate to provide a Health Science Academy (HSA) pipeline program to engage disadvantaged middle and high school students in STEM activities.

Mr Wright introducing Arthur Ashe Board members

The Academy is preparing the next generation of leaders of color in health professions, and many of its graduates are working in their communities to ensure that people of color are represented and receive the finest standard of care.

To address insufficient health education in vulnerable communities, the Institute works in collaboration with over 170 Brooklyn salons and barbershops, hosting events that provide to the information, tools and resources they need to make informed health decisions.

Pat Wang, J.D CEO of Healthfirst with her husband Board member AAIUH Dr Michael Stocker

About Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH): The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH) was founded in 1992 by tennis champion, activist, and humanitarian, Arthur Ashe, to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for underserved communities.

R-L Liane Ramirez Swierk Exec VP of Goodman Media Pr with her staff members

As an organization, the Arthur Ashe Institute is focused on promoting health equity through a social justice lens.

Staff & Alumni of AAIUH

The Institute utilizes a model of community health empowerment to develop and implement innovative community-based health promotion and research programs to encourage individuals to be advocates for their own health and the health of their communities.

Silent Auction Items on Display

It’s always a great pleasure to showcase the legacy of Arthur Ashe and the great work that is still being done, see more in our World Liberty TV, Humanitarian Channels by clicking here.


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