Dr Martine Rothblatt and Cyndi Lauper were the recipients of this year’s Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) awards on Wednesday night.
The tennis legend launched the non-profit BJKLI in 2014 with her partner, Ilana Kloss, to promote and celebrate inclusive leadership. This year’s awards gala, in partnership with Teneo, took place Wednesday night at World Trade Center 4 in New York.
It followed a day-time symposium examining the power and importance of inclusive leadership.
Dr Martine Rothblatt is the CEO of United Therapeutics and the Founder of Sirius Radio. The former telecommunications lawyer came out as trans in 1994 at the age of 40.
She founded Sirius in 1990. She launched United Therapeutics in 1996 after her own daughter developed a rare disease; pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Singer and campaigner Cyndi Lauper shot to fame in the 1980s with hits such as ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. She has consistently spoken out as an LGBT ally and has helped countless homeless LGBT youth through her True Colors Fund.
In announcing the awards, King said in a statement, ‘I am honored to present this year’s “Inspiring Leader” Awards to Cyndi Lauper and Dr. Martine Rothblatt for their fearless and inclusive leadership in the public service and corporate realms.
‘Both Cyndi and Martine lead by example and they have made significant strides in recognizing and rewarding talent in the workplace and beyond.’
Upon receiving her award, Rothblatt said, ‘To be a leader actually means to be a server. The more people you serve, the greater honor you feel. This award is a recognition that I’ve done a really good job of serving the people that I work with … and I’ll continue over the years to be a good server.’
Lauper said: ‘I think that inclusion is important especially today while we are all freaking out about what’s going on in the world.
‘My organization focuses on the homeless and LGBT youth. We’ve come a long way in this world and in this country; and we have the opportunity to grow as individuals with education and with participation.
Among those to attend the awards ceremony were gay basketball player Jason Collins and actor Alan Cumming.