Lupus Research Alliance Breaking Through Gala Raises Millions for Transformative Lupus Research
Lupus Research Alliance Breaking Through Gala Raises Millions for Transformative Lupus Research

New York, NY. November 22, 2022 – Last night’s Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) Breaking Through Gala at Manhattan’s historic Ziegfeld Ballroom was both inspiring and successful, raising more than $4 million for lupus research. More than 600 people turned out to recognize 2022 Gala honoree Leslie D. Hale, President & Chief Executive Officer at RLJ Lodging Trust, and LRA’s Distinguished Service Awardee, former President & CEO Kenneth M. Farber. As Gala Honorary Co-Chair, Selena Gomez addressed the audience in a special message personally encouraging everyone to join her in supporting the LRA’s mission.

Dedicated Business Leader Leslie Hale Honored for Lupus Commitment

Ms. Hale was presented with the 2022 Lupus Research Alliance Gala Honoree award by Art Collins, Founder and Managing Partner of theGroup and member of the RLJ Lodging Trust Board of Directors. Mr. Collins described Ms. Hale’s intense drive for excellence and dedication to the company since joining in 2005 and subsequent meteoric rise. Ms. Hale is putting that same intensity toward the lupus cause on behalf of her sister Wendy Hale-Giles who lost her battle with the disease.

In accepting the award, Ms. Hale shared,  “Now, every family event, every photo we take will always have a void. As a woman of color, I feel a tremendous sense of personal responsibility to help those most impacted by lupus. Working with the Lupus Research Alliance will be one of the most significant things I do in my lifetime to honor Wendy. It  has given me the opportunity to help raise awareness about lupus – something I wish I had back then to help my sister. Supporting the LRA has given my family purpose to our pain.”

Kenneth M. Farber Receives Distinguished Service Award

In presenting the Distinguished Service Award to Kenneth M. Farber, Ira Akselrad, LRA Board of Directors Co-Chair and President of The Johnson Company, described his many accomplishments through his 20-year tenure with the organization. “Ken has led this organization from inception through a merger with two leading lupus organizations to build the current Lupus Research Alliance as the largest private funder of lupus research worldwide. We thank him for his unwavering commitment to lupus research.”

“What makes this night so special is seeing so many people committed to the same goal that the LRA staff is committed to – funding research into the cause, the cure, the treatment and prevention of lupus and its many manifestations.” noted Mr. Farber. Naming the many allies in the cause, Mr. Farber particularly praised LRA’s new President and CEO Albert Roy. “The Board of Directors could not have made a finer choice.  He’s brilliant, enthusiastic, and tenancious, but most importantly he cares deeply about the struggles of people with lupus.”

Special Supporters Recognized for Contributions to Lupus Community

NBC’s talk show host and long-time LRA friend Willie Geist hosted the evening with his inimitable charm, quick wit, and dedication to the cause.  Hale also conducted a quick ‘talk-show’ live with lupus notables celebrating incredible strides being made in lupus research.

Philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg expressed his continued support for the work of the LRA on behalf of his close friend LRA Board member Jennie DeScherer who has fought lupus for decades. Former LRA Board member Jerome Chazen was remembered for his endless generosity to the organization in time, expertise, and resources on behalf of his sister-in-law who had died from lupus.

LRA President and CEO Albert T. Roy thanked the many supporters who have made 2022 a year of discovery and diversity for lupus research progress. He noted, “It is with the same tenacity that Wendy lived her life, that the LRA will remain ruthlessly focused on identifying and investing in the most promising research to allow people living with lupus to become the best version of themselves. The LRA alone cannot achieve the laudable goals that have been shared this evening – it will take a village inclusive of everyone present tonight and joining virtually. We need everyone to continue in helping advance our collective mission because the people living with lupus are depending on us.”

Mr. Roy recognized each of the 2022 Gala Co-Chairs for all their hard work. Lead Co-Chairs were Thomas J. Baltimore, JR., Chairman and CEO of Park Hotels & Resorts; Jennifer A. Dakin, Managing Director of Wells Fargo Bank NA; and Deborah L. Harmon, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Artemis Real Estate Partners.  Many long-standing supporters also supported the event as Co-Chairs of the event: Board of Directors Co-Chairs Ira Akselrad, President of The Johnson Company and Richard K. DeScherer; as well as The Honorable Robert Wood Johnson, Chairman of the New York Jets and LRA founding chairman ; LRA Board members and lupus advocates TV personality Brenda Blackmon and IBM Business Development Leader Veronica Vargas Lupo; and William J. Wolfe, Chairman of First Washington Realty, Inc.

In addition to Selena Gomez, Honorary Co-Chairs supporting the Gala were Michael R. Bloomberg, Lady Gaga, and 2021 Gala honoree Nadeem Meghji, Senior Managing Director, Head of Real Estate Americas Blackstone.Speakers also applauded all the people who showed what ManyOne Can accomplish for lupus research together – those who helped raise millions, those who advocated for more lupus research federal funding, those who helped educate others about the disease, and those who participated in the research needed to deliver new treatments and a cure.

Even NYC’s historic Empire State Building did its part in highlighting the importance of lupus research by lighting up NYC’s skyline in the colors of lupus awareness – purple and red. And the female tap dance band Syncopated Ladies stepped up, tapping into the hope of the hundreds gathered to support the LRA.

Last night’s program can be viewed online here using the PIN LRA22. Continued donations are welcomed. The Lupus Research Alliance thanks the worldwide lupus community for their ongoing support of the innovative research needed to deliver new treatments and a cure.

About Lupus
Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women; lupus most often strikes during the childbearing years of 15-45. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans are two to three times at greater risk than Caucasians. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that can attack any part of the body including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints.

About the Lupus Research Alliance
The Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) is the largest non-governmental, non-profit funder of lupus research worldwide. The organization aims to transform treatment by funding the most innovative lupus research, fostering diverse scientific talent, and driving discovery toward better diagnostics, improved treatments and ultimately a cure for lupus. Because the LRA board of directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, 100 percent of all donations supports lupus research programs.

Media Contact:
Margy Meislin, Lupus Research Alliance, 516-426-6160 or

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