Greyston Gala 2019

May 6, 2019 Posted under Events


From left: Greyston President & CEO, Mike Brady; Bernie Glassman Trailblazer Award Recipient Jean Oelwang; Greyston VP of Development Alexandra Villano; and Greyston Development Officer Erica Skolnick.

Transformation was in the air last Thursday evening, as the Greyston community gathered together to meet change in its various forms and to celebrate the work that we do.

Guests gathered at X20-Xavier’s on The Hudson to meet and mingle with our team members, our supporters, and global change makers including the 2nd Annual Bernie Glasssman Trailblazer Award recipient, Jean Oelwang, President of Virgin Unite.

Our Master of Ceremonies, NBC News Anchor Dave Price, led us through an evening full of humor, tenderness, personal and organizational transformation, and a call to action to become part of the movement to fulfill our mission—creating thriving communities through the practice and promotion of Open Hiring.

From left: VP of Human Resources North America for Unilever, Mike Clementi; Greyston President & CEO, Mike Brady; NBC Weather Anchor Dave Price.


The evening’s program was highlighted by the Six-Word Stories of four people transformed through their time at Greyston. The Six-Word Story, inspired by Earnest Hemmingway, has served as a literary prompt for decades, encouraging the writer to create a succinct story in a powerful and thought-provoking manner—using just six words. The four speakers of the night did not disappoint. Jelani, a graduate of the Workforce Development program’s Culinary Arts Training Course, was joined by Alvin and Jennifer, both bakers at Greyston Bakery, to share their inspiring Six-Word Stories. The presentation ended with Cassandra, a quality assurance technician at the bakery, speaking of her experience the hurt of being jilted by other employers and the power of being hired and truly seen as a person with unbound potential by Greyston. Cassandra’s closing six words resounded with everyone in the room, “Macy’s said no, Greyston said GO!”.


Greyston Ambassadors: Cassandra, Dion, Jelani, Alvin and Jennifer with NBC Weather Anchor Dave Price.

This year’s gala was a particularly moving one for everyone there. On November 4, 2018, our founder Zen Master Bernie Glassman died. This was an evening to look forward to the work that still needs to be done and to take in the present by celebrating the transformation process and the many ways an individual can create and inspire change. It was also an opportunity to look back at where Greyston began and all that Bernie’s vision—more than three decades ago—made possible, and to celebrate those who are our friends and allies in this movement. Jean Oelwang spoke movingly about how much has been accomplished globally and how much still needs to be done. We also celebrated Jacqueline Vance’s retirement after 14 years as a lead operator at the bakery. It is easy to talk about creating transformation—Miss Jackie (as she is known) has actually done it! It was a pleasure to present her with a Bernie Glassman Trailblazer award as well. Bernie would have been proud.


Zen Master Bernie Glassman.

We are pleased and excited to have launched the Zen Master Bernie Glassman PathMaking Fund to support the people who have chosen to change their lives. Donations to this fund support the things that are not covered by the social safety net, restricted grants, or entry level salaries. Things like uniforms for jobs, child care for families, travel, and rental assistance. These often one-time, modest investments, can make a critical difference and position an individual for a new life. In 2019, the fund has a dual goal: to create the Founders Circle (gifts of $10,000 or more) which will support the sustainability of the fund, and to feed the general Bernie Fund to serve the needs of our bakers and our clients in 2019. We hope you will become a part of this by clicking here to make a gift. For more information on the Founders Circle, please contact Alexandra Villano, Vice President of Development at or Karen Tumelty, Senior Development Officer at


Greyston guests enjoying the celebration.

Greyston has spent 37 years transforming lives in Southwest Yonkers, NY and the fiery entrepreneurial spirit that we have kept ablaze is now transforming and growing from a local organization to an international movement. As the Center for Open Hiring at Greyston nears its first full year in operation answering the global call for change, the Greyston Bakery expansion into Europe is underway, and Greyston’s network continues to grow around the globe. Greyston stands on the precipice of something incredible – making Open Hiring the global standard – transforming how the world views employment and creating opportunities that change lives and uplift communities.


Many thanks to our Master of Ceremonies, Dave Price, and the over 200 people who gathered with us on the beautiful Hudson River. There were a few who were not able to join us in person but sent along videos so that could join in the fun. Thank you to Alysia Reiner, of “Orange is the New Black” and her husband, actor David Basche for delighting in our brownies; to Sir Richard Branson, for joining us all the way from Indonesia and for his recognition of the Greyston Team as fellow disruptors; and to Jeff Bridges for the reminder that often the best thing we can do is to get involved! If you were unable to join us, please click here to listen to the custom soundtrack created by our friend DJ Red Daughter for this special evening. We think you’ll enjoy it.