Passport to Possibilities Gala, New York

Passport to Possibilities Gala, New York
NYC Gala Digital Invitation

2017 Passport to Possibilities Gala


November 1, 2017
6:00-10:00 p.m.


409 East 59th Street
New York


Outstanding Leadership Award

Dr. Hamed Faridi
Chief Science Officer
McCormick & Company, Inc.


A renowned food industry leader, Dr. Faridi heads a global team of more than 450 scientists and flavorists responsible for research, product development and innovation, and is the voice of food science for McCormick & Company.  Under his leadership, McCormick’s R&D program has been transformed and is rated by investors and global customers as one of the most innovative in the industry.

Dr. Faridi’s science-based approach to “Flavorful Healthy Eating” is recognized as a groundbreaking platform for improving public health. His vision led to the formation of the McCormick Science Institute in 2006.

He has published six books and over 60 articles, has been a featured lecturer at conferences and research institutions in more than two dozen countries, and has served on several boards of professional and trade associations in the U.S. and Europe.  Dr. Faridi has served as President of the American Association of Cereal Chemists and the Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association.  He currently serves on the boards of the Maryland University of Integrative Health and the Sabri Ulker Nutrition Foundation in Istanbul, Turkey.

Dr. Faridi was honored as a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists in 2010 and of AACC International in 2011.  He is also the recipient of Kansas State University’s 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award.  In 2015, he received the coveted Dr. Richard L. Hall Distinguished Service Award from FEMA, and in 2016 Dr. Faridi received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Prior to joining McCormick in 1997, Dr. Faridi served on the faculty of Washington State University (1979-1983) and held R&D executive positions at Nabisco from 1983 to 1997.

Dr. Faridi received his B.S.c. from Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran (1969), his M.S. (1973) and Ph.D. in Food Science from Kansas State University (1975), and his M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University (1987).

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Women’s Vanguard Award

Tonia O’Connor
Chief Revenue Officer
Univision Communications Inc. 


Tonia O’Connor serves as chief revenue officer for Univision Communications Inc. (UCI). In this role, O’Connor drives an integrated content monetization strategy and oversees all of UCI’s revenue streams – linear and digital advertising, content distribution as well as new revenue development.

O’Connor is spearheading UCI’s development of new opportunities that advance consumer engagement and create a more effective overall experience for marketers and distributors.  She has led UCI’s efforts to expand the reach of its portfolio of brands and content availability by creating new consumer products and securing valuable shelf space with both traditional and emerging distributors, and social media platforms.

Given her understanding of consumer behavior, she is also involved in UCI’s programming and content development for its new networks and platforms, including the acquisition of originals for the OTT services and partnering with third parties to finance and develop new series. Additionally, O’Connor has worked with other leaders across UCI to coordinate investments in new digital businesses. She was also a founder of and continues to sponsor UCI’s Women’s Leadership Council, an employee resource group designed to prepare the next generation of women leaders.

O’Connor is a Director on the Board of Directors of El Rey Network, a cable network started by filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez and fuboTV, a streaming TV service. She has received multiple awards and recognitions, and is active in industry organizations and currently serves as the Chairman on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

View full press release.

Immigrant and Refugee Service Award

Jennifer Geissel-Zervigon
Independent Strategy Consultant



Jennifer Geissel-Zervigon is an independent strategy consultant with over 15 years of experience in strategy and corporate finance, predominantly serving technology companies. She has served on the national Board of Directors for Upwardly Global for the last 8 years, where she served as Board Chair (2013-2015), and also held intermittent roles as Finance and Development Chairs during her tenure.

Most recently, Jennifer was a Senior Managing Director at the Nasdaq Stock Market, where she managed sales for Nasdaq’s stock trading business. Prior to Nasdaq, Jennifer ran sales and strategy at the BRUT ECN, and electronic trading system of US equities.  There she led the sale of Brut to SunGard Data Systems and later, the sale of Brut to the Nasdaq Stock Market.Prior to working at Nasdaq, she was a strategy consultant for many years; first as a Manager at Deloitte Consulting, and then at Treacy & Company, a strategic consulting boutique, where she was a Senior Principal. Prior to business school, Jennifer was an Associate in Investment Banking at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, focusing on M&A and Bridge finance. Jennifer received her BA in English from New York University and her Masters in Business Administration at the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth. She and her husband have two young children and a dog. She has traveled extensively throughout New Jersey.


Event Registration

We have closed the ticket sales for the NY gala on November 1st. With any inquiries, please contact Gabriela Martinez at (212)-219-8828 ext. 200 or

Thank you!