VOCAL-NY’s 2023 Justice, Compassion & Love Awards Gala

Tuesday, September 19, 6PM

Threes Brewing, Gowanus

VOCAL-NY’s Annual Justice, Compassion, & Love Awards Gala celebrates our organization and honors leaders who fight to save and improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers impacted by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness.

We will gather with friends and family to honor the tireless work it takes to drive a movement for justice, compassion, and love. Join us for a fun and inspiring cocktail reception to celebrate the resilience and power of our movement and communities!

This year’s gala will take place at Threes Brewing, Gowanus – right across the street from our office. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served at 6, followed by the awards ceremony at 7, and dancing at 8.

The Honorees

Neil Berry

Neil is a longtime community advocate and leader across many of VOCAL-NY’s unions. He represents Staten Island and has lived experience with the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and homelessness. Neil has been on the front lines of our work in each of these areas, lobbying and leading actions to pass Daniel’s Law, Parole Reforms, and the Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act, as well as supporting our Users Union in the fight to expand Overdose Prevention Centers through the Safer Consumption Services Act and working with our Homeless Union on our response to the death of Jordan Neely. 

Nan Goldin & P.A.I.N.

Nan Goldin is an internationally recognized photographer, whose work has centered on giving visibility to the queer community for over 50 years. In 1988 she curated the first exhibition about AIDS. In 2017 the artist founded the group PAIN, which targets the pharmaceutical companies that profit off the overdose crisis. PAIN fights against the Drug War by advocating for decriminalization of drugs and, life saving treatments for drug users. Goldin’s life is the subject of Laura Poitras’ film All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, now on HBO. The film focuses on Goldin’s lifelong work to de-stigmatize mental illness, AIDS, and drug use. 

Photo credit: Norman Jean Roy

Tony Newman

For more than 20 years, Tony Newman has played a pivotal role in shifting the narrative around drug policy in the US. He was one of the first employees at the Drug Policy Alliance and has been central to designing winning public relations strategies that have changed the way people think about drugs and drug user health. His work helped lay the groundwork for historic victories on marijuana legalization, the repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, harm reduction expansion, and more.

The Details


Tuesday, September 19, 2023
6pm – 10pm


Threes Brewing, Gowanus
333 Douglass Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

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The Emcee

Shalewa Sharpe

Shalewa Sharpe is a Brooklyn-based comedian who developed her sly yet goofy style in her hometown of Atlanta. A 2019 Vulture Comic to Watch, she has appeared on HBO, Comedy Central, Showtime, and Peacock.

Shalewa is a co-host of the weekly podcast, “The War Report with Gastor and Shalewa” and the writer and star of “Don’t Reach In The Bag,” her solo show about working in an adult video store. 

Shalewa has released two albums: “Stay Eating Cookies” (2016) and “So You Just Out Here?” (2019).

Find Shalewa on Twitter and Instagram @silkyjumbo.





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