Glamour honored the next generation of female leaders at its 60th annual College Women of the Year Awards on Tuesday.
Held at La Sirena at the Maritime Hotel in New York, the event is a chance for the Condé Nast-owned title to shine a light on trailblazing young women in a range of disciplines from journalism and activism to science and business. The awards are the stepsister of the magazine’s splashy Women of the Year event that is held every fall — but that doesn’t mean recipients don’t go on to do great things.
Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive rattle off a list of well-known former recipients, including former Cosmopolitan editor in chief Kate White, Katiti Kironde, the first African woman to appear on the cover of a women’s magazine — it was Glamour — and businesswoman extraordinaire Martha Stewart. All three were on hand, and Stewart, who won in 1961, gave the keynote, kicking off the luncheon.
“That’s me,” said Stewart, pointing to an image of a girl wearing a red poncho posing at the top of a flagpole. “I wore a poncho coming out of prison. It was so prophetic.”
“It was a fake pole,” she deadpanned. “It was Photoshopped. There I was. I looked so elegant.”
Back then, the awards honored best dressed women on campus, explained Stewart, who said she was called into the dean’s office of her alma mater, Barnard College. She was informed that Glamour wanted to make her a “best dressed college girl.”
“That’s surprising. I had no clothes,” she said with a laugh. “I went to the meeting at Glamour and I showed them all the clothes I made. It was fun.”
Over time, the awards became more about achievement than looks.
This year, presenters included Huffington Post editor in chief Lydia Polgreen; “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts; Public School creative directors and cofounders Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne; filmmaker Paola Mendoza; Yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric; model, writer and activist Cameron Russell; Women’s March global coordinator Breanne Butler; EpiBone chief executive officer and cofounder Nina Tandon, and Penny Abeywardena, New York City Commissioner for International Affairs.
Each presenter had been paired with an award winner and served as a sort of mentor for them — at least for the afternoon. Winners were journalist Marjorie Kirk; social entrepreneur Ellen Chilemba; filmmaker Rebecca Dharmapalan; gun reform advocate Sarah Clements; Angela Jin and Nishiki Maredia, the duo behind social justice lifestyle brand 1950 Collective; transgender rights activist Eli Erlick; basketball star Kia Nurse; environmentalist Destiny Watford, and scientist Samantha Marquez.
“We barely talked hoops, we talked life,” said Roberts, who presented University of Connecticut basketball star Nurse with an award. “As we’ve been talking about the different areas we’re in — whether it’s fashion, whether it’s women’s rights — we’re all just together. I’m so grateful that you, Cindi and Glamour, are celebrating and embracing athleticism and the strength that these women have along with everybody else here.”
Roberts, using her sportscaster voice, called up Nurse, leading with her jersey number to laughter and applause.
“By the way everyone that hasn’t gone up, you also have to do that,” Leive said.
The event wound down with Couric, who said: “I hope everyone will give their e-mails to Cindi. I’d love to stay in touch so I can do stories about many of you. Just don’t put Robin Roberts on that e-mail.”
The journalist, who recently produced National Geographic’s gender identity documentary called “Gender Revolution,” presented Erlick with an award.
“The percentage of trans people in general…who have attempted suicide, according to one study, is 41 percent,” Couric said. “Eli is helping other people be their authentic selves….I just wanted to say to Eli, it’s because of the courage of people like you that will help all of us really better understand that we all are just people. This is just packaging.”