LOS ANGELES (September 22, 2023) – Step Up, the mentorship nonprofit that guides girls and those who identify with girlhood to their success, announced today the return of its Inspiration Awards. The fundraising event that has been on a COVID-related hiatus since 2019 will also expand to Chicago for the first time in the organization’s history, with both the October and November dates celebrating those who inspire women and girls to pursue their dreams of success.
Step Up will hold the Inspiration Awards at the Skirball Cultural Center on October 6, 2023, in Los Angeles, and at Artifact Events on November 16, 2023, in Chicago. Beginning with a red carpet followed by a reception, guests will celebrate 25 years of Step Up mentorship at the typically annual fête. Attendees will hear from girls and mentors who have been involved with the organization over the years and join Step Up CEO Delores Druilhet Morton in recognizing 2023’s honorees, including Jodie Turner-Smith, executive honorees Suzanne Lerner and Sonia Menon, and teen and young adult honorees Gladis Ramirez and Monica Laddaran.
Suzanne Lerner, co-founder, president and CEO of Michael Stars, will be awarded as the executive honoree in Los Angeles for her activism and philanthropy in funding grassroots and community organizations that build critical pathways to gender and racial equity. Lerner’s award will be presented by actress and television personality Garcelle Beauvais.
Gladis Ramirez (Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School Class of 2023 and UCLA Class of 2027) will be introduced as the teen honoree in Los Angeles. Ramirez aspires to create her own business to market secondhand and reasonably-priced apparel to her neighborhood. “I value persistence because it has allowed me to get to where I am now. I would have been mentally unstable and missed out on the chance to enroll in top universities and pursue my aspirations. One of my biggest worries is giving up on myself, but happily, I’ve learned that when I believe in myself, I can accomplish anything,” says Ramirez.
Jodie Turner-Smith, British Actress, Activist and Mother, will also be honored at the Los Angeles Inspiration Awards this October. Coming to this country as a young girl, Jodie is a fantastic example of a role model who pursued her dreams of success and embraced career pivots that could contribute positively to her ability to reach those dreams. She attended the University of Pittsburgh before beginning work as a banker, and then pursued writing, modeling, and acting.
Sonia Menon, chief operating officer of Neal Gerber Eisenberg, has been selected as the executive honoree in Chicago for her commitment to mentorship and her work designing her firm’s corporate social responsibility program, including the development of new initiatives to enhance the recruitment, advancement and retention of traditionally underrepresented lawyers. Menon’s award will be presented by colleague and member of Step Up’s national board of directors, Elizabeth Radichel.
Monica Laddaran (Dominican University Class of 2022) will be the Young Adult Honoree in Chicago. Laddaran’s career goal is to make an impact on others, whether it be working with clients or using her creative skills to improve experiences. “I believe everyone deserves an equal chance at anything, no matter what background you may have and/or come from,” Laddaran said.
Previous Step Up Inspiration Awards honorees have included Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Zoe Saldana, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Anne Hathaway. For the latest news on the Inspiration Awards benefiting Step Up, please visit suwn.org/inspiration-awards and follow our social handles below and use the hashtag #InspirationAwards!