Performance artist, survivor Dawnn Lewis to keynote 2021 Speaking of Women

BRIDGEPORT, CT Dawnn Lewis, a stage and screen star, philanthropist, and domestic abuse survivor, has been named the keynote speaker for the 24th annual Speaking of Women luncheon to benefit The Center for Family Justice.

Lewis, a versatile performer best known for her role in the 1980’s sitcom “A Different World” and more recently in Broadway’s smash “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”, will headline a program scheduled for Tuesday, Sept 21 at noon at The Waterview in Monroe.

Presented by title sponsor People’s United Bank, Speaking of Women is CFJ’s annual fundraiser, providing critical support to the programs and services of the Bridgeport-based nonprofit, which delivers crisis and supportive services to victims of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse in the communities of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull.

In keeping with its tradition of choosing Speaking of Women keynotes who have a strong connection to its mission, Lewis was selected to headline this year’s event because of her willingness to share her own experiences with abuse in the interest of supporting others.

In addition to her award-winning career as an actress, singer and songwriter, Lewis is a dedicated philanthropist whose New Day Foundation is focused on aiding and mentoring disadvantaged youth. This year, Lewis was part of the first class inducted into The Women Songwriters Hall of Fame.

“Dawnn Lewis is a dynamic and inspiring woman, and extremely talented creative artist who will bring her passion for advancing the hope, safety and empowerment of other survivors to the Speaking of Women podium,” said Debra A. Greenwood, president and CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “We are incredibly excited to have her with us for what we are sure will be an inspiring, meaningful and highly entertaining Speaking of Women event.”

Anna Zap, co-host of the syndicated “Anna & Raven” show which originates locally from Star 99.9 radio, will return to Speaking of Women for her fourth consecutive year as the event’s emcee.

This year’s Speaking of Women is co-chaired by Patti Masarek of Milford and CFJ Board Member Sofia Goncalves of Trumbull.

Last year, CFJ provided services to more than 7,000 people, including more than 4,300 directly impacted by domestic or sexual violence and child abuse. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the nonprofit experienced an 18 percent increased demand for overall services and a 25 percent increase in its domestic violence clients. Proceeds from Speaking of Women will directly support these critical, lifesaving services.

This year’s Speaking of Women returns to an in-person format after transitioning to a virtual event in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to tickets being sold for the luncheon program at The Waterview, CFJ is also offering a virtual ticket option for those who prefer to take part in the event in a socially distant way.

Tickets for Speaking of Women are being sold for $175 each for the in-person event at The Waterview and for $125 for the livestream day-of-event broadcast.

CFJ is also seeking Speaking of Women sponsors and advertisers for its event program guide. To discuss sponsorship opportunities or ticket purchases, contact Lisa Labella, CFJ’s director of Development & Community Engagement at [email protected].

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