LOS ANGELES, CA – It’s no strange(r) thing that philanthropists Shawn and Serena Levy will be taking center stage alongside comedian Hasan Minhaj and Dr. Beena Patel Minhaj at the Laughter Is the Best Medicine 2022 gala on Monday, December 5, at the Beverly Wilshire, hosted by global health nonprofit Jhpiego.
An extraordinary storyteller and prolific filmmaker, Shawn explored communication with extraterrestrials in the multi-Oscar-nominated “Arrival,” shared the supernatural adventures of a group of teens in the award-winning Netflix series “Stranger Things,” and directed hit movies “Free Guy,” “The Adam Project,” and highly anticipated “Deadpool 3”and the upcoming limited series “All the Light We Cannot See.” His wife Serena, who has practiced as an early childhood development specialist privately and at Cedars Sinai Medical Center Early Childhood Center, also serves on the Board of Trustees for A Sense of Home.
The couple will receive Jhpiego’s Elyse Bila Ouedraogo Award, named for a Burkina Faso nurse who screened hundreds of women for cervical cancer—the preventable disease that ultimately took her life. This award is given to honorees who exemplify Ouedraogo’s selfless determination to make a difference.
“The work that Jhpiego does, the ways in which this organization is changing lives, is bettering lives, aligns with the values that Serena and I hold,” said Shawn. “Through this award, we hope to amplify the work of Jhpiego, their empowerment of women, to ensure that the people they serve receive the quality health care all of us want for our families.”
Jhpiego, a Johns Hopkins University affiliate, will present its Visionary Award the same evening to Hasan, a two-time Peabody Award-winning comedian, and his wife, Beena, Executive Director of Vituity Cares Foundation. The Visionary Award recognizes leaders who use their public platforms for activism aligned with the work and mission of Jhpiego – women’s empowerment, education and access to health care. The Minhajs are passionate advocates for equitable health care for women, men and their families wherever they live.
Beena, who holds advanced degrees in public health, previously developed a nationally recognized and replicated model of patient-centered health care for homeless veterans. Hasan is the co-founder and chief executive officer of 186K Films, which will produce its first feature, “For the Culture,” with Amazon Studios. His second comedy special, “The King’s Jester,” premiered on Netflix on October 4, 2022.
“We’re honored to be able to bring awareness to public health initiatives through both creative and grassroots mediums,” said Beena. “Empowering people, especially women, to advocate for improved and expanded health care access leads to better overall public health. We hope to continue our work in this space in a way that exceeds the significant expectations of the Visionary Award.”
Laughter Is the Best Medicine, which this year takes place during Jhpiego’s 50th anniversary year, highlights the work of Jhpiego’s staff all over the world, in addition to the philanthropic and humanitarian contributions of the honorees. An evening of celebration and inspiration, the evening features performances from top comedians and special guests from Jhpiego’s country offices.
100% of gala proceeds go toward improving the health and well-being of women and their families in the developing world.
Working for the past half century in 155 countries to ensure equity, quality and respect in health care services, Jhpiego insists that where a woman lives should not determine if she lives.