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The 2016 Emery Awards Honors ALLEGIANCE's George Takei and Retail Visionary Rob Smith

In recognition of their tremendous contributions to the LGBTQ community and outstanding commitment to Hetrick-Martin Institute, the nation's oldest and largest organization committed to serving LGBTQ youth, Hollywood legend George Takei and visionary retail expert RoB Smith will be honored on December 7th 2016 at Cipriani's Wall Street, during The 30th Annual Emery Awards.

This year's theme is "Help Me Imagine," recognizing the bravery of the youth who come to HMI seeking a better future for themselves as well as the limitless potential of what's next for the LGBT rights movement.

Actor and activist George Takei is a hero to the entire LGBTQ community and his journey speaks volumes to the youth HMI represents. Growing up in a time of widespread racism and discrimination, Takei faced many compounding and intersectional challenges, surrounding both his Asian heritage and sexual identity. His journey parallels that of many LGBTQ youth at HMI: facing multiple barriers yet finding a path from crisis to stability and success.

"All children should have the right to healthcare, education, supportive adults, and a community that understands and embraces them, that is why I am thrilled and honored to help bring light to the important and timely work of Hetrick-Martin Institute," shares Takei.

Through the Emery Awards and other campaigns for HMI, retail specialist RoB Smith has helped to raise over ten million dollars in funds that support HMI's life-saving on-site services and programs that work towards systemic change. The future for LGBTQ youth is undoubtedly brighter thanks to his commitment to HMI's mission.

Professionally, RoB Smith is well known for multi-functional and cross-division leadership. He served as EVP of Merchandising for Victoria's Secret as well as Macy's, and presently serves as Chief Product Officer of global children's wear giant, Haddad Brands - producing Levi's, Nike, Jordan, Converse, Hurley apparel and accessories. Additionally, Smith offers his expertise as a board member of footwear and accessories company, Steve Madden.

"It is has been my privilege and honor to contribute to HMI and become part of the HMI community. The incredible resilience of HMI youth never ceases to inspire me. They Help Me Imagine what the world could be if more people showed their determination and integrity," says Smith.

Thomas Krever, CEO of Hetrick-Martin Institute relays, "RoB Smith has been an integral part of HMI's remarkable growth for the last ten years. As well as growing The Emery Awards to its current scale and grandeur as an event co-chair, in his role as Co-Chair, of the Board it was his vision and fortitude to expand HMI beyond the confines of NYC, into NJ and beyond, with the inception of our Center for Advocacy and Capacity Building. Pairing him with an icon like George Takei feels so right. The way Takei has helped to inspire an entire generation of change, RoB Smith has helped to empower an entire generation of HMI youth, in New York and beyond."

The Emery Awards recognizes individuals and organizations who demonstrate outstanding leadership within the LGBTQ community, and those who work to address some of the most critical issues affecting HMI youth, namely HIV/AIDS prevention, housing and homelessness support, education and health & wellness.

Tickets are currently on sale at www.HMI.org and start at $600 per person, which includes a cocktail reception at 6pm, dinner & awards ceremony at 7pm, followed by after-party at 9:30pm.

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