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Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Hosted 31st Annual Women of Distinction Luncheon

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Women of Distinction Luncheon, an event honoring outstanding women who have made significant contributions in the fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis took place on May 9 at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City. Fashion designer and “Project Runway” judge Brandon Maxwell, known for dressing Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama,  presented his runway collection.

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Hosted 31st Annual Women of Distinction Luncheon Dena Pass, Bella Pass, Jill Pass

Dena Pass, Bella Pass, Jill Pass

The Women of Distinction Luncheon celebrates exceptional individuals from various industries who are dedicated to improving the lives of women, the IBD community, and society as a whole. The luncheon raised over $1,560.000 to support the foundation’s ongoing efforts to find cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which affects nearly 1 in 100 Americans. Since 1993, the luncheon raised more than $34 million for research, support, and educational programs.

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Hosted 31st Annual Women of Distinction Luncheon Lara Metz, Lori Stokes, Michelle Sweetwood Jozoff, Marilyn Chinitz Nancy Brown

Nancy Brown,  Lori Stokes, Michelle Sweetwood Jozoff, Lara Metz, Marilyn Chinitz

This year’s honorees have made significant contributions to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation:

June Jacobs and Rochelle Jacobs, 2024 Women of Distinction: June Jacobs, a trailblazer in the skincare industry for more than three decades, co-founded Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care and serves as its president. June has demonstrated a commitment to socially responsible skincare through her June Jacobs and Naturally Serious skin care brands, which she launched alongside her daughter Rochelle. She’s also a devoted supporter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Rochelle Jacobs, managing director of June Jacobs and Naturally Serious, brings her dynamic leadership to these brands while also managing IT and e-commerce for Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care.

 Edrice Simmons, VP, U.S. Oncology, AbbVie, Woman of Distinction in Healthcare, is a distinguished leader who started her career at Eli Lilly and Company, garnering acclaim for advancing care in Endocrinology, Oncology, and Women’s/Men’s Health, earning the Chairman’s Award for fostering diverse talent. Joining AbbVie in 2016 as Vice President of Gastroenterology, she prioritized elevating standards of care for IBD patients, collaborating with the Foundation and engaging the scientific community. At AbbVie, Simmons accelerated the approval of two pioneering IBD therapies, championing female gastroenterologists and raising significant funds—$200,000 personally and $1 million from AbbVie—to support IBD research.

Bella Pass, Rising Star Honoree, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 13. Despite ongoing treatment, Bella maintains her daily activities as a high school freshman, including school, sports, and exploring various lifestyle modifications and therapies to manage her condition. Supported by her family, friends, and a dedicated medical team led by Dr. Marla Dubinsky at Mount Sinai, Bella remains optimistic about achieving remission and supporting others in the Crohn’s and colitis community. Her resilience, coupled with her passion for writing and advocacy, drives her determination to thrive.

Lori Stokes, former co-host of FOX 5’s “Good Day New York,” was the the host of the event.

“We are honored to recognize these outstanding people who have made a significant impact in the fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis,” said Michael Osso, President & CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. “Their contributions have been invaluable, and we are grateful for their dedication and commitment to our mission.”

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Hosted 31st Annual Women of Distinction Luncheon

Brandon Maxwell Fashion Show

About the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization focused on both research and patient support for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with the mission of curing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improving quality of life for the millions of Americans living with IBD. The Foundation’s work is dramatically accelerating the research process, while also providing extensive educational and support resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public.

Photo credit: Michael Yorkes 

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