There’s a big “Thank you Toronto” on the main page of the Artists For Peace and Justice (APJ) website. If you click “celebrating 10 years,” it takes you to a page thanking two specific individuals, one, Boston-based Hari Ravichandran, the founder and CEO of Jump Ventures, who pledged $330,000 ($250K USD) towards a science laboratory at the Academy for Peace and Justice in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through the Ravichandran Family Foundation. The other is Toronto’s Natasha Koifman.
As the head of the eponymous publicity firm, NKPR, and a chair of Artists For Peace and Justice, she is the engine that helped raise a staggering $30 million since Oscar-winning screenwriter, director and fellow Canadian Paul Haggis launched the charity a decade ago to help the people of Haiti — the world’s poorest nation.
Headquartered in New York, it “works in direct partnership with communities in Haiti and around the world, creating pathways out of poverty by expanding access to education and providing training in creative industries.”
“The Board of Directors of APJ commend our dear colleague Natasha Koifman and her entire NKPR team for ten years of dedicated service,” it reads. “Natasha’s tireless efforts to provide life-changing education to the children of Haiti makes us all and the world a better place. Just as her firm’s motto is Don’t Just Talk, Say Something, so clearly is her commitment to helping others; she doesn’t talk about it, she just does it. We love you, Natasha!”
Over the decade at the annual Artists for Peace and Justice Festival Gala, presented by Bovet 1822 during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Koifman helped raise that immense $30 million figure. This year alone it topped $1.4 million, a record for APJ. The event is a small, costly dinner at which several individuals, ranging from high profile actors and musicians to business philanthropists, are honoured for their humanitarianism, but in between the award-giving is a fun, often boisterous, money-parting finger-pointing live auction where items can go for tens of thousands of dollars (from set walk-ons to exotic trips).
This year, it was co-hosted by Ben Stiller and Susan Sarandon, co-chaired by Koifman and Zoomer magazine’s editor in chief, Suzanne Boyd – continue reading Karen Bliss’s SamaritanMag Q&A here.
Photo caption: Serving dinner at the 2018 Artists for Peace and Justice Festival Gala: L-R: Yannick Bisson, Susan Sarandon, Deb Rennard, Alan Cumming, David Daniels, Marchelle Sellers, Shantelle Bisson, Ben Stiller, Natasha Koifman and Suzanne Boyd — photo credit: Ryan Emberley.