People March 3, 2020 | 12:40 pm

Celebrities, philanthropists fest Dominican Independence and the Independent Dominican Woman at DREAM’s 8th Annual Benefit and Awards in NYC

Tony Peralta, Solly Duran, Kathy Romero, Taye Diggs, Shane Evans and Jonathan Wunderlich at DREAM’s 8th Annual Benefit and Awards in New York City. Photo by DREAM Project: Anna Shmel.


NEW YORK.– Sueños 2020, The DREAM Project’s 8th Annual Benefit, served as one of New York City’s premier events that celebrated Dominican Independence. Celebrities, educators and some of New York’s most prominent philanthropists gathered to help the organization fund and collect resources to expand their educational programs, impacting more than 27 disadvantaged communities and helping close the cycle of poverty in the Dominican Republic.

Sueños red carpet kicked off the night with celebrity guest appearances and an exclusive Brugal 1888 Ambassador Cocktail and VIP networking hour. This limited networking hour was hosted by Brugal 1888 and the event’s Co-Chair’s, event planner to the stars Kathy Romero, artist Tony Peralta and philanthropist Michel Zaleski. In addition, actors Taye Diggs from All American, Food Network’s Chef Kelvin, were joined by additional celebrities, among them a group of independent Dominican women led by actress Solly Duran, Katherine Castro and CEO/Activist Miss Rizos. The Brugal 1888 pairing, alongside Chef Ricardo Cardona, added the final touches to this unique pre event cocktail.

The main event began at 7:30pm, headlined by DREAM’s award ceremony recognizing their Corporate DREAMer of the Year, Phoenix Tower International and closed by no other than the sounds and rhythm of The DREAM Bachata Academy. Good company, great pairing of cocktails and food, and live music all came together once again for this magic night of giving back and celebrating the very best of the Dominican Republic in New York City.

This year’s Co-Chairs reflect the diverse support network of DREAM. Tony Peralta, contemporary artist and community leader, embraces DREAM’s roots In the Heights and the need for innovative ideas in education. Michel Zaleski, DREAM Chair and Founder, understands the bridge between passion for the island and philanthropic support. Finally, Kathy Romero, Global Entrepreneur and Celebrity Event Planner, is the essence of this year’s event, celebrating Dominican Independence and the Independent Dominican woman.

This year’s personalities attending the event included: Actor Taye Diggs, Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish, actress Solly Duran, Katherine Castro, Carolina Contreras founder of Miss Rizos, radio personalities Arlette Borrely from 93.1 La Mega “La bodega de la Mañana” and Excarlet Molina from “El Vacilon de la Manana”, Albania Rosario Creative Director & Founder of Fashion Designers of Latin America™️, artist and writer Shane Evans, Esther Céspedes, Miss República Dominicana US 2019 and Livinov T. Ortiz, Mister República Dominicana US 2019, among others.

Through their attendance, guests became donors, creating the opportunity to make a difference while meeting and networking with the DREAM Board, VIPs and Celebrities, the Sueños Invitation Committee, Co-Chairs and high profile Dominican American Community Leaders in an intimate and relaxed environment.

All proceeds from Sueños go towards DREAM Early Childhood Education, At Risk Youth and Workforce Development Programs, impacting more than 8,000 Dominican youth in 27 different communities. DREAM is dependent on financial support to make a difference, so please donate whatever you can, join us at one of our future events, and become part of the DREAM family.

This year’s sponsors, helping DREAM create change and end the cycle of poverty in the Dominican Republic, include: JetBlue, Fast Enterprises, Brugal, Phoenix Tower International,  Dominican Republic Tourism, RC22, The Latino Network Coalition, and Beachwold Residential.

To learn more about DREAM, make a gift or learn more about the annual benefit, please click here:

About DREAM:

DREAM (Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring Project), was founded in 1995 by our Chairman, Michel Zaleski, who after seeing schools without adequate sanitation, electricity, books and supplies, decided to try to improve Latin America’s worst performing education system. In 2002 DREAM was formalized as a USA and DR non-profit. The DREAM Board of Directors is composed of dedicated Dominicans, Americans and global citizens, including acclaimed author and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, Adriano Espaillat, the first Dominican born US Congressman, and includes actors, business people, educators and others leading the charge to bring high quality education to the children of the Dominican Republic. DREAM serves more than 8,500 children and youth through 17 different quality educational programs. These programs include new parent education, pre-schools, after-school and at-risk youth programs, summer schools and camps, vocational training for teens and young adults, libraries and computer labs. At DREAM’s annual book fairs, students build their own libraries by choosing among 25,000 age-appropriate, new, free books. DREAM generates more than 800,000 hours of high-quality teaching in small class groups, thus providing transformative educational experiences for otherwise under-served children, so they can reach their full potential. DREAM, alongside its hundreds of annual volunteers, now has a remarkable paid staff of 100, —-with all but one living in the Dominican Republic. Staff are originating and managing schools in 27 communities. The DREAM approach clearly has made an impact on the well-being of its students and their communities. What distinguishes the DREAM project is excellent results and accountability in combatting the effects of poverty on children.To learn more or to get involved, visit

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