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Yale hosted its latest fundraising campaign event — part of a series dubbed “For Humanity Illuminated” — at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday evening.

The event at the Kennedy Center, titled “From Ideas to Impact: Developing Leaders to Serve Society,” sought to explore the work being done at the University to advance evidence-based solutions to societal challenges, per the campaign website. It is part of a series of live campaign events open to members of the Yale community from across the globe. According to the Office of Development, just over 500 people registered to attend Tuesday evening’s program. 

Among those in attendance were University President Peter Salovey, campaign co-chair Donna Dubinsky ’77, Yale Club of Washington D.C. President Lauren Harris ’14 and Yale Corporation trustee Michael Warren ’90. Speakers also included professors and fellows from across the University.

“When I was preparing to speak with you tonight, I reflected on my own leadership journey — as you know, in August I announced that this is my final year as the President of Yale and come June I’ll have had the privilege of serving as a leader at Yale for over two decades,” Salovey, who announced in August his intent to step down this summer, said at the event. “And at a time of bitter partisanship and destructive discord, Yale’s emphasis on leadership and your examples of it remind us that we can transcend differences to create a better world.”

To date, the “For Humanity” capital campaign — which seeks to raise $7 billion for the University — has held Illuminated events in five cities, including London, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

Associate Vice President for Development and Campaign Director Eugénie Gentry told the News that the Illuminated campaign aims to keep donors, alumni and friends of the University informed and connected to Yale “as it is today.” 

Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Joan E. O’Neill told the News that yesterday’s Washington event and the event set to occur in Boston on Nov. 9 reached full capacity.

“I would say that there are some people that are highly motivated to see President Salovey, and I think it’s part of the reason why we sold out both events,” O’Neill said. “They’re great events, and people are excited, but they are also excited to come and make sure that they have a chance to see President Salovey.”

According to Gentry, each event has a specific academic focus and includes a keynote address to highlight the University’s progress and future aspirations in that area. The events are scheduled to occur in major cities with a “large cohort of active Yalies.”

She added that each event keynote is followed by “TEDtalk-style presentations” from faculty or alumni engaged in scholarship relevant to the topic and concludes with a panel of all speakers present to answer questions from audience members, as well as with remarks from alumni leaders.

“Tonight’s event at the Kennedy Center [focused] on Leadership — a historic strength of a Yale education, and one that is essential for a changing world,” Gentry wrote. 

Campaign co-chair and Chair of the University Library Council Nancy Better ’84 told the News that volunteers on the campaign are helping to organize and facilitate different events.

Better added that while For Humanity is a fundraising endeavor for the University, it also encompasses an engagement goal that focuses on training campaign volunteers to develop a fundraising skillset.

“They’re free, there’s great food, there’s booze and there’s wonderful presentations,” Better said of the campaign’s events. “The engagement goal is about [volunteers] building relationships with each other, developing friendships and learning new skills … So when [they’re] done with the campaign, hopefully Yale has reached the financial goal, hopefully we build a pipeline of future volunteers and donors but hopefully [they] get to take away some really great skills that actually aren’t that easy to come by.”

Four other Illuminated events will take place across the country this year in Boston, Palm Beach, Dallas and Seattle.

Benjamin Hernandez covers Woodbridge Hall, the President's Office. He previously reported on international affairs at Yale. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, he is a sophomore in Trumbull College majoring in Global Affairs.