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About the Gala

Visit this page on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 6:00 pm EST to join us for the virtual gala. We look forward to coming together with our supporters and community to celebrate Queens Public Library’s 125th anniversary.

The annual gala is our largest fundraising event of the year, and this year’s virtual format offers a special opportunity to include an even wider audience. Especially during such a difficult year for so many, we’re reminded that Queens Public Library not only serves the public through books, arts and culture, job and career support, and educational programs, but QPL is integral to the overall health of our borough by providing cooling centers in the summer, COVID-19 testing sites, and now vaccination sites. For over a century, Queens Public Library has been dedicated to building resilience and unity in our communities, and we know our neighbors are counting on us now and for the years to come. We hope you will join us on June 8 and thank you for your continued support.


Featuring Special Guests


She is a Golden Globe winning actress, writer and producer from Queens, New York. She grew up with her given name, Nora Lum, and has since used her trademark comedic style and signature flair to become a breakout talent in the entertainment industry. Lum can be seen in season one of her Comedy Central Show, "Awkwafina is Nora From Queens," which she created and stars in. The show was picked up for a second season. Additionally, she was recently seen in "Jumanji: The Next Level," which opened December 2019. She will next be seen in MGM’s “Breaking News in Yuba County” released on February 12th, 2021 and starring in Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” in March 2021 as well as Marvel’s “Shang Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings” July 9th, 2021.

Lum received glowing reviews for her starring role in the indie darling "The Farewell,” where she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. The story is based on a true story about a family saying goodbye to their beloved matriarch - the only person who doesn't know she is dying. In just its first weekend in four theaters only, the film beat the record of biggest per-theater average of the year, previously held by “Avengers: Endgame,” the second best-selling movie in history. The small family drama quickly won over viewers and critics alike, with many calling it one of the best films of 2019. The film releases nationwide on August 2, 2019.

Lum brings an impressive range of talent to everything she does, most famously to Warner Bros' smash hit "Crazy Rich Asians," opposite Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Ken Jeong in which she starred as Peik Lin. The film opened on August 15, 2018 to rave reviews and four straight weekends of $20+ million at the box office. Lum hosted "Saturday Night Live" that same year as part of the show's 44 th season. She starred in another Warner Bros feature, "Ocean's 8," directed by Gary Ross and alongside an impeccable ensemble cast including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter.

Prior to that, she starred in the indie comedy, "Dude," written and directed by Olivia Milch. In 2016, Lum made her feature film debut in the comedy "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising," with Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne and was heard as the voice of Quail in the animated adventure "Storks." Her first book, Awkwafina's NYC, a travel guide to New York, was published by Penguin Random House in 2015.

Daymond John

An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, Daymond John has come a long way from taking out a $100,000 mortgage on his mother’s house and moving his operation into the basement. John is CEO and Founder of FUBU, a much-celebrated global lifestyle brand, and a pioneer in the fashion industry with over $6 billion in product sales. He is a celebrated entrepreneur having received over 35 awards throughout his career, including the Brandweek Marketer of the Year, Advertising Age Marketing 1000 Award for Outstanding Ad Campaign, Ernst & Young’s New York Entrepreneur of the Year Award and, most recently, was named #2 on LinkedIn’s 2020 Top Voices list for US Influencers.

John’s marketing strategies and ability to build successful brands has made him a highly influential consultant and motivational speaker today. His marketing firm The Shark Group offers advice on how to effectively communicate to consumers through innovative means and connects brands with the world’s top celebrities for everything from endorsements to product extensions. John is also an author of four best-selling books including his New York Times best-selling books, The Power of Broke (2016) and Rise and Grind (2018). In March 2020, John released his fifth book, Powershift, that walks through his tried and true process of how to transform any situation, close any deal and achieve any outcome through his own experience and vast network of industry leaders.

Finally, he is celebrating his 12th season on ABC’s hit business show Shark Tank by acclaimed producer Mark Burnett. The show has gone on to win four Emmy Awards and maintain millions of weekly viewers who tune in to the show every Friday night as John demonstrates his marketing prowess and entrepreneurial insights.


Hari Kondabolu

He is a comedian, writer & podcaster based in Brooklyn, NY. He has been described by The NY Times as “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today.” In 2018, his Netflix special “Warn Your Relatives” was released and he was named one of Variety’s Top 10 Comics To Watch. Regarding his special, The NY Times wrote” it was an artistic breakthrough for him, an incisively funny and formally adventurous hour that reveals a comic in command of his powers.”

Hari has released two comedy albums, “Waiting for 2042” & “Mainstream American Comic” with the legendary indie rock label Kill Rock Stars. He has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show, @Midnight & has his own half-hour special on Comedy Central. A former writer & correspondent on the Chris Rock produced FX TV show “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” In 2017, he released his critically acclaimed documentary “The Problem with Apu” on truTV.

Hari is a regular on the public radio gameshow “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.” Hari has also appeared on such notable radio shows and podcasts as Fresh Air with Terry Gross, WTF with Marc Maron, 2 Dope Queens, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Prairie Home Companion, Wits, Studio 360, and Bullseye. He co-hosted the popular “Politically Reactive” podcast with W. Kamau Bell and currently co-hosts “The Kondabolu Brothers Podcast” with his brother Ashok on Earwolf. In the UK, Hari has established himself with appearances on BBC 3’s Russell Howard’s Good News, Live at the Electric and Channel 4’s 8 out 10 Cats. He also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011. Hari attended both Bowdoin College and Wesleyan University, graduating from the former institution with a B.A. in Comparative Politics in 2004. A former immigrant rights organizer in Seattle, Hari also earned a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics in 2008. He was the NYU’s APA Institute’s “Artist in Residence” for the 2014-2015 Academic Year.

Hari was born and raised in Queens, NY. He went to Townsend Harris High School and the school’s mascot, “Hari the Hawk,” was named after him during his senior year. (He sometimes fears that his greatest achievement was accomplished at 17).

Min Jin Lee

She is a recipient of fiction fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is the author of novels, Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko, a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and a New York Times 10 Best Books. An international bestseller, Pachinko will be translated into over 35 languages. Her writings have appeared in The New Yorker, NPR’s Selected Shorts, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Times of London, Food & Wine, Vogue and The Wall Street Journal. She is developing Free Food for Millionaires for Netflix with Alan Yang. Lee was named as an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation” and a Frederick Douglass 200. She is a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College and serves as a trustee of PEN America and a director of the Authors Guild. She is currently at work on Name Recognition: A Memoir of Visibility and Voice and is researching and writing her third novel, American Hagwon, which will complete “The Koreans” trilogy.


Digital Journal coming soon!

Queens Public Library Foundation Board of Directors 2021

Executive Committee

Carl S. Koerner, Esq.

President of the Board and Counsel, White and Williams, LLP

Wanda Chin

Vice President of the Board and Chief Credit Officer, Community Preservation Corp.

Robert Santos

Treasurer of the Board

Matthew Gorton

Secretary of the Board and Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications, Empire State Development

Dennis M. Walcott

President and CEO, Queens Public Library


Vincent Arcuri, Jr.

Judy E. Bergtraum, Esq.

Julissa Gutierrez

James M. Haddad, Esq.

Law Office of James M. Haddad

Paula Kirby

Managing Director, Plaxall, Inc.

Haeda Mihaltses

Executive Director of External Affairs, New York Mets

Eugene A. Petracca, Jr.

Petracca & Sons, Inc.

Michael Rodriguez, Esq.

Edward Sadowsky, Esq.

Michael Tragale (non-voting)

Assistant Treasurer of the Board and Chief Financial Officer, Queens Public Library


Queens Public Library Board Of Trustees 2021


Michael Rodriguez, Esq.

Chair of the Board

Earl Simons, Ed. D.

Vice Chair of Board

Eli Shapiro, Ed. D., LCSW


Julissa Gutierrez


Pauline Healy

Assistant Treasurer


Judy E. Bergtraum, Esq.

Matthew M. Gorton

James Haddad, Esq.

Reverend Richard B. Hogan

Andrew Jackson

Carl Koerner, Esq.

Haeda Mihaltses

George Russo, Esq.

Robert Santos, Esq.

Edward Sadowsky, Esq.

Terri Thomson

Ex Officio Members

Hon. Bill de Blasio
Mayor of the City of New York

Represented by Kapil Longani, Esq.

Hon. Jumaane Williams
Public Advocate of the City of New York

Represented by Elizabeth Guzman, Esq.

Hon. Donovan Richards
President of the Borough of Queens

Represented by Allan Swisher, Esq.

Hon. Scott M. Stringer
Comptroller of the City of New York

Represented by Jimmy Yan, Esq.

Hon. Corey Johnson
Speaker of the New York City Council

Represented by Eve Cho Guillergan, Esq.