Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova, NYU Langone Department of Surgery Chair and Transplant Institute Director Dr. Robert Montgomery, who traveled to Lviv, Ukraine to perform life-saving surgeries, and CNN senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt, who has just returned from Ukraine reporting from the frontlines of the Russian offensive, headlined a fundraiser along with State Department Spokesperson Ned Price for journalists covering the war in Ukraine on Thursday evening, July 28 in Washington, D.C to benefit the international non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“We have brave men and women who put their lives on the line to tell the story of our fight to the world at a very high cost. We already lost 37 journalists in Ukraine just during this time. We have people like Alex [Marquardt] who are coming back to the city of Kharkiv, which is a frontline,” said Markarova told the crowd. “Thank you so much to you and all your colleagues and all the journalists who are here. Really, you are as brave and as heroic as all the Ukrainians who are fighting.”
Co-hosts included Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb, Shane Harris, and editor Damian Paletta; NBC News Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor; News Media Alliance president and CEO David Chavern; Haddad Media CEO Tammy Haddad; ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl; New York Times correspondent Jonathan Martin, CBS News White House correspondent Steven Portnoy; MSNBC Host Stephanie Ruhle; and Axios Managing Editor Margaret Talev.
CNN’s award-winning senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt, who was reporting from Mariupol, Ukraine on the day the Russian invasion began, has fearlessly led his network’s coverage of the war. “The resilience really was just stunning. And so, of course, was the journalism that has come out of Ukraine. I mean, we could not understand how historic and destructive this conflict is if we didn’t have people in Mykolaiv and in Mariupol and Luhansk and Donetsk provinces doing dangerous and difficult and expensive work,” said Marquardt. “There are countless freelancers, both international and Ukrainian, who need body armor. They need medical training, they need an Internet connection, they need financial support and eventually, they may also need psychological support.”
Famed transplant surgeon Dr. Robert Montgomery, chair of the Department of Surgery at NYU Langone Health and director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, who risked his own life by traveling to Ukraine in May to perform lifesaving surgeries at the Lviv Transplant Center, and has since raised $280,000 for essential operating room equipment for the center. “To walk through those ICUs and see the mangled bodies and minds that have occurred as a result of this. I think if we could take cameras, into hospitals, I think people would feel really differently about a lot of the tremendous human tragedies that have occurred,” said Dr. Montgomery.
A portion of the funds went to equipping and staffing the RSF Press Freedom Centers in Lviv and Kiev, where reporters covering the war receive protective gear such as bullet-proof vests and helmets, safety training and psychological support.
Speakers at the event included:
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, we immediately knew that we had to be on the ground providing solutions to people. And so within days, we were ready to launch the Press Freedom Center in Lviv,” said Weimers. “So the Press Freedom Center is a hub through which we can channel all of our support directly to journalists covering the story on the ground.”
“So what does that support mean? … It’s meant 577 bulletproof vests, 489 helmets, 252 solar, solar battery packs, 101 first aid kits, 219 direct loans to media workers, fixers, journalists, reporters, as well as 200 loans to our partner on the ground, the Institute for Mass Information. We’re also providing safety courses for both digital security and physical security while you’re on the ground and we’re starting to provide mental health support services as well.”
Notable attendees: Rep. Debbie Dingell, Rep. Joaquin Castro, former Rep. Jane Harman, Jen Psaki, Daniel and Amy Koh, Jill Zuckman, Jessica Dean, Liz Johnson, Amanda McClements, Betsy Fischer Martin, Adrienne Elrod, Ali Rubin, Heather Podesta, Carol Melton, Mariel Saes, Rachel Levitan, Kevin Latek, Dan Myers, Brian Walsh, Jon Decker, Tyler Pager, Robin Goldman, Dietrich von Klaeden, Matt Kaminski, Genna Gent and Michael Gonda, Jon Banner, Kenny Thompson, Lauren Pratapus and John Legittino, Kevin Baron, Francesca Chambers, Andrew Bates, Sean Savett, Mariel Saes, Michael Wilner, Michael Moroney, Ted Johnson, Nazanin Ash, Mario Parker, Racquel Krahenbuhl, Holly Page, Laurie McKay, Jane Oates, John O’Leary.
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PepsiCo, McDonald’s and the News Media Alliance sponsored this event.