Let Me Speak
2019 Annual Benefit

Monday, November 11, 2019

Tribeca 360°
10 Desbrosses St, New York, NY 10013

6pm Cocktails + Silent Auction | 7pm Dinner + Awards
Online Art Auction by NCAC’s Arts Advocacy Program | Hosted on Paddle8 from October 2019 | Click here to preview art

Scroll down to see our 2019 sponsors!

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Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a two time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. Reynolds was named the American Booksellers Association’s 2017 and 2018 spokesperson for Indies First, and served as the national spokesperson for the 2018 celebration of School Library Month in April 2018, sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Jason’s many works of fiction include When I Was the Greatest, Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave As You, For Every One, Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor and most recently Look Both Ways. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019) was a ground-breaking artist, whose multidisciplinary practice includes painting, assemblage, performance, and film. By connecting the kinetic nature of her early paintings and assemblages to her radical performances and films, Schneemann’s work has made a permanent mark on the history of art. Her pioneering work with the body repeatedly faced censorship: from cancelled screenings of her experimental 1967 film Fuses to removals of documentation from her 1975 performance Interior Scroll from exhibitions. Throughout, she fought boldly for artistic freedom and refused to be afraid. Carolee Schneemann was a passionate supporter of NCAC’s work and took part in several NCAC programs. Born in Fox Chase, Pennsylvania, Schneemann found home in Paris, London, and New York City. She spent the last quarter of her life living and working in her country residence in New Paltz, New York. Her critically acclaimed traveling retrospective, Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting, was presented at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria, the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and MoMA PS1, New York. Schneemann’s work is included in major museum collections around the world including the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Spain; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Tate Modern, England; Centre Pompidou, France; and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. In 2017, Schneemann was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Wendy Olsoff, Co-Founder of P.P.O.W. will accept on Carolee’s behalf. Olsoff co-founded P.P.O.W alongside Penny Pilkington in the first wave of the East-Village Art Scene in New York City in 1983. Since its inception, the gallery has remained true to its early vision, exhibiting politically and socially conscious contemporary work in all media. An alumna of William Smith College, Olsoff has lectured extensively throughout the United States at universities and museums. In 2012, she was a recipient of the Visual AIDS Vanguard Award for the gallery’s dedication and support of artists in the LGBTQ community and her ongoing leadership in the fight against censorship. Olsoff is a founding Charter member of the Feminist Art Council at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum and serves on the Boards of Directors for both the Art Dealers Association of America and Visual AIDS.


Harmonica Sunbeam, The Comedy Queen , has been delighting audiences at nightclubs, cabarets, fundraising events and supermarket openings throughout the United States and abroad for over 27 years. Her live appearances have gained her a cult following of all ages, races and backgrounds.

With her unique, yet classic style and razor-sharp wit, she has all the necessary talents to reach her goal of mainstream stardom. “The sky’s the limit!” Harmonica exclaims. “In the entertainment field, if people feel you are marketable, they will use you in any capacity”. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has been featured on several television shows (The Deuce, The Breaks, The Jack and Triumph Show, Law and Order SVU, Third Watch, Johnny Zero and 100 Center Street. Her film credits include Honey w/Jessica Alba, Uptown Girls w/Brittany Murphy and the Oliver Stone drama “World Trade Center”.  She can also be seen in the movie “Please Give” directed by Nicole Holofcener and on LOGO for Dragtastic NYC : A Standup Comedy Event.

Miss Sunbeam’s latest project is showcasing her unique ability to uplift, encourage and engage children. She is involved with Drag Queen Story Hour where drag queens go into libraries, bookstores, festivals and other events to read books  to kids of all ages.  Drag Queen Story Hour audaciously encourages  the creativity and boundless energy of child’s play as they relate to both gender neutrality and non-conformity , while promoting positive LGTBQ role models. Since the inception of DQSH in the New York area, Miss Sunbeam has been featured in the NY Times and also interviewed for a now viral video on Buzzfeed.

Despite her busy schedule, Miss Sunbeam still finds time to assist and work with many community-based LGBTQI organizations such as Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice , NJCRI , Jersey City Pride, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation and AAOGC to name a few. Her commitment to being a positive role model in today’s selfish world clearly speaks for itself.

Simon & Schuster and Revilo Imaginations proudly present

Nancy Drew: The Musical

This a Broadway-bound “reboot” gives Simon & Schuster’s iconic sleuth a modern twist. In this updated version, by Jeff Thomson and Jeremy Desmon, Nancy’s no longer an 18-year-old with a flashlight and magnifying glass… she’s now in her 60s and a world-famous detective — those books on everyone’s shelves are her true-life adventures. Nancy has a daughter and a granddaughter, and the musical follows these three generations of women as they tackle the one mystery that often eludes us all: our families.


Nancy Opel (Nancy Drew) Broadway: 15 Broadway shows including Wicked, Beautiful, Honeymoon in Vegas, Cinderella, Memphis, Gypsy, Fiddler, Urinetown, Triumph of Love, Anything Goes, Sunday in the Park with George, Evita, others

Megan Dwinell (Nancy, Jr.) Megan is a graduate of Pace University where she received her BBA in Arts and Entertainment Management with a minor in Special Events Marketing. Megan has appeared Off-Broadway and in numerous cabarets throughout the city. Some favorite past credits include: Spring Awakening (Anna, u/s Martha), Seussical (Gertrude).


Marissa Rosen is a born & raised New Yorker! Most recently, she was seen in the Off-Broadway production of R.R.R.E.D., The Marvelous Wonderettes & the Chicago premiere of “A Taste of things to Come“. Favorite credits include: Into the Woods, Jawbreaker, Grease, The Rocky Horror Show & Legally Blonde. You can see her all over the city, singing at all of the concerts with all of the amazing people. @themarissarosen

Russell Fischer Broadway: Jersey Boys. National Tour: Big the Musical. NY: Baby Fat Act II at LaMama. Regional: The Music Man at Chautauqua Opera, Children of Eden at Paper Mill Playhouse. Most recently starred in the Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival premiere of The Collins Boy. Film: October Pain and Waystation in the Stars. TV: 2015 Belmont Stakes, 2009 Tony Awards. Currently recording and touring with The Doo Wop Project.

John Edwards Last seen in the New York revival of Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Lortel Nominee) Other credits include: The Broadway and 1st Nat’l Tour of Jersey Boys (Barry Belson/others) Nat’l Tour Hairspray (Seaweed J Stubbs) Regional Credits: In The Heights at The Kennedy Center (Domingo) Dreamgirls (Jimmy Early) To God be the glory! IG:@therealjohnedwards‬

Chase Kamata is thrilled to be a part of the Let Me Speak 2019 Annual Benefit! She was most recently seen performing with Burn the Floor in their UK and South Korea tours, as well as, the Sydney Opera House. As a native New Orleanian, Chase has much love for music and the arts. Her most notable theatre credits include – International: Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Cynthia); Off-Broadway: Loveless Texas; Regional: Miss Saigon (Gigi), Rent (Mimi Marquez), West Side Story (Anita), Little Shop of Horrors (Crystal), A Streetcar Named Desire (Stella), and Oliver! (Nancy). Insta: chasekamata

Event Chair

Justin Chanda

Justin Chanda is the Senior Vice President and Publisher of the S&S Books for Young Readers imprint and the McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers Imprints. He has been at S&S for 14 years. He cofounded the Salaam Reads imprint in 2016. He oversees the publication of nearly three hundred and fifty titles per year ranging from picture book to YA and everything in between. He is keenly interested in publishing books that are equal parts commercial and literary, books that make a contribution to the tradition, while truly entertaining kids. Aside working with a terrific editorial team he has the privilege of editing talents authors and illustrators such as Patricia MacLachlan, Peter Brown, Jessie Sima, E.R. Frank,  SJ Kincaid, Carter Goodrich, Aaron Reynolds, Michael Ian Black, Karma Wilson, Debbie Ohi, and Morgan Matson. Justin is also an adjunct instructor for the NYU Graduate Publishing Program.

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Event Sponsorships

Sponsorship Information Here
Register for Sponsorships Here

For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Denise Clegg at denise@ncac.org or 202-577-8706

For media and press inquiries, please contact Nora Pelizzari at nora@ncac.org or 212.807.6222

For other inquiries, please email ncac@ncac.org or call 212.607.6222

2019 Benefit Sponsors

We deeply appreciate all of the organizations and individuals who have helped NCAC fight censorship and promote free expression in 2018, and thank the following sponsors of our Annual Celebration of Free Speech & Its Defenders.

Profanely Generous

Lewdly Generous

Indecently Generous 

Judy Blume & George Cooper
Charles Koch Institute
Susan Clare & Peter Parker
Davis Wright Tremaine
Hachette Book Group
Macmillan Publishing
Random House Children’s Books
Andrew & Jeanette Witten

Offensively Generous

Amazon Literary Partnership
Baker & Taylor
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Command Web
HarperCollins Publishers
Ingram Content Group
Pippin Properties
Workman Publishing
Writers House LLC

Devilishly Generous

Entertainment Software Association
Readerlink Distribution Services
The Gotham Group

Scandalously Generous

Michael Bamberger
Eric Freedman & Melissa Nathanson
Hung Hing Printing Group Limited
Lake Book Manufacturing
Squire Patton Boggs
Transcontinental Printing
Ken Vittor
Weil, Gotshal & Manges
Worzalla Publishing
Yehudah L. Buchweitz