2021 Mission Critical Gala


Join us for this FREE, ticketed, virtual celebration of our guests, partners, and individuals who are affecting change in our communities to end chronic and veteran homelessness.


May 6, 2021 @ 6 p.m. ET


Get your tickets here.


View our sponsorship packet here.


Belonging Honoree

A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation

The A. James & Alice. B Clark Foundation partners with grantees who build practical, immediate and concrete connections between effort and opportunity, and focuses its investments in the following areas: educating engineers to solve society’s toughest problems, improving the lives of veterans and their families, and providing members of the DC community the best opportunity to thrive.

Change Honoree

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks

From combatting internet inequality to advocating for diversity in employment, entrepreneurship, and media ownership, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks fights for policies designed to ensure that modern communications technology empowers every American.

Before he was appointed Commissioner, Starks helped lead the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, handling a wide variety of complex investigations. At the Department of Justice, he served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Attorney General and received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service—the highest honor award a DOJ employee can receive.

Before he entered federal public service, Commissioner Starks practiced law at Williams & Connolly, clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, served as a legislative staffer in the Illinois State Senate, and worked as a financial analyst. Commissioner Starks graduated from Harvard College with high honors and Yale Law School. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Lauren, and their two children.

Change Honoree

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)

Kyrsten knows firsthand the challenges everyday Arizonans face. Born in Tucson, Kyrsten went through some tough times growing up. Her family struggled to make ends meet, and for a while they were even homeless. But they got by thanks to family, church, and hard work. Kyrsten’s childhood experience showed her the power of hard work and the importance of helping others.

Throughout her career, she’s worked with students and families in Arizona who faced some of the same challenges she did. Kyrsten’s commitment to service led her to the Arizona Legislature, where she passed a law to help veterans get in–state tuition at all Arizona public universities, cracked down on sex trafficking, and advocated for children’s health care and education.

Now as Arizona’s senior Senator, Kyrsten works every day to deliver for Arizona families – helping veterans get the benefits they’ve earned, creating good–paying jobs for Arizonans, and keeping Americans safe at home and abroad.

Dignity Honoree

Rhonda Whitaker

Rhonda is an ardent advocate for ending homelessness in her native District of Columbia. As a member of the Miriam’s Kitchen Speaker’s Bureau and a partner in our advocacy work, Rhonda consistently raises her voice to increase awareness about long-term homelessness and to call for proven solutions, such as Permanent Supportive Housing. Having experienced homelessness for a combined 25 years, Rhonda has firsthand knowledge of what it will take to end homelessness for some of DC’s most marginalized residents. From speaking out from the steps of the Wilson Building to addressing a packed room of private sector investors, Rhonda never shies away from an opportunity to speak truth to power.


Leon Harris, NBC4Leon Harris – Anchor, NBC4 Washington

Leon Harris anchors News4 at 4 and contributes to other weekday newscasts. Harris began his career behind the scenes in a variety of technical roles. His first big on-air reporting was during coverage of the L.A. riots. From there, he anchored CNN’s morning programs, and was twice awarded the National Cable Ace Award for Best Anchor.

In 2003 Harris moved to Washington to cover local news in his adopted home. He has won more than a dozen Local Emmys for his reporting and anchoring, including two as Best Local News Anchor. Harris is also known for his award-winning series focusing on area youth doing remarkable things in service to others and the adults making a way for those young people to succeed.


Tom Sietsema, Washington Post Food Critic

Tom Sietsema has been the food critic for the Washington Post since 2000. In his leaner years, the James Beard award winner helped create sidewalk.com for Microsoft Corp. and worked as a critic, reporter or food editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, San Francisco Chronicle and Milwaukee Journal. Tom is a proud Minnesota native and a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He has also written for Food & Wine and GQ.


Musicians of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

The Poet Life


For corporate sponsorships:

Elizabeth Truffa, Corporate Partnerships Officer – E-mail

For silent auction donations:

Brenda Segal Bochner, Director of Individual Giving – E-mail




Rebecca Arbogast, Comcast NBCUniversal

Rebecca Ballard, Maven Women

CJ Bickley, Latham & Watkins, LLP

Meghan Britt, Danaher

Liz Caselli-Mechael, Nestlé USA

Lauren Champaign, Foley & Lardner, LLP

Joe Davis, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP

Meghan Dotter, Portico

Geoff Dye, Cushman & Wakefield

Tyler Gates, Brightline Interactive

William Johnson, Verizon

Adam Krinsky, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP

Rich Lindahl, Emergent BioSolutions

John Mason, Altria

John Means, McKinsey & Company

Elleigh Morris, Ashfield Healthcare

Orton Ndau, Amazon

Brooks Nelson, US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Tom Sawanobori, CTIA

Allison Solomon, Deloitte

Elizabeth Steil Brennan, Boeing

Quincy Stephens, The Volkswagen Group