News Release: Reach for the Stars Recap

Laura Van Zandt receives gift from Stephen Reed and Amarely Gutiérrez Oliver.
Former REACH Beyond Domestic Violence Executive Director Laura Van Zandt accepts a gift from REACH Board of Directors Chair Stephen Reed and current Executive Director Amarely Gutiérrez Oliver on behalf of the full board in recognition of her 18 years of exemplary leadership. Photo by David M. Barron/Oxygen

For Immediate Release

P R E S S  R E L E A S E

REACH Beyond Domestic Violence Raises $400K at Annual Gala

Taylor Swift Eras Tour tickets sell for $8K

WALTHAM, Mass., May 3, 2023 – The REACH Beyond Domestic Violence 19th Annual Reach for the Stars Gala was an evening of “highs” for 260 guests, colleagues, and friends on Saturday, April 29, at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in South Boston.

Held in person for the first time since 2019, the event raised $402,000 in gross revenues, an increase of 18 percent over last year, to support the many programs and services provided in the Metro-West area by the Waltham-based organization. The spirited live auction, led by London-based auctioneer Tom Best, included a pair of tickets and transportation to see 11-time Grammy-winner Taylor Swift on May 19 at Gillette Stadium, which sold for a bid of $8,000.

Emotions ran high with not a dry eye in the house as the keynote speaker and domestic violence survivor, (whose name is being kept anonymous for her protection), shared her heartrending story.

“The system taught me that what I had been through at the hands of my abuser didn’t matter. Abusers often misuse the court system to maintain power and control over their former partners,” the survivor said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story in hopes that it will change the outside world’s views on what domestic violence is and how the legal system responds to it. I am so grateful to REACH for giving me the support and courage I so desperately needed.”

REACH’s new Executive Director, Amarely Gutiérrez Oliver, was introduced at the event. She brings two decades of experience working with domestic violence survivors. In her opening remarks at the gala, she spoke publicly for the first time about her vision for REACH.

“Domestic violence persists across all walks of life, and it is our job to meet survivors where they are, with all their disparate needs. That means, as our communities evolve, REACH must evolve right along with them,” Gutiérrez Oliver said. She spoke of the need to increase capacity in Spanish and other languages, embrace diverse cultures, resolve barriers to equity, reinforce REACH teams, and sustainably expand further into surrounding communities.

“That’s how we move with intention,” Gutiérrez Oliver said. “How we gain community trust. How we help survivors stabilize, and how we empower them to rebuild and thrive on their own two feet. And I can tell you—this work changes lives. The rewards in terms of human life and dignity are beyond price.” Her full remarks are available here.

Another highpoint of the evening was the resounding standing ovation and tribute to former REACH Executive Director Laura Van Zandt, who recently stepped down. Board chair Stephen Reed and Gutiérrez Oliver presented her with a gift for her outstanding years of dedication to REACH.

Reed described REACH as a trustworthy, financially sound organization for four decades, adding, “While everyone in this room and a lot of others who couldn’t be with us tonight have contributed to REACH’s long-term success, there’s no question that it takes real leadership for that to happen. For the last 18 years, we have one person to thank for steering this ship. Laura Van Zandt has been a stalwart advocate for survivors of domestic violence long before she became executive director. We can’t thank her enough, and we’ll always have her in our hearts.”

The reception-styled gala included a silent auction, heavy hors d’oeuvres by Gourmet Caterers, dancing to tunes spun by Boston’s DJ Deja, and was hosted by emcee Latoyia Edwards, Emmy award-winning morning news anchor for NBC10 Boston. AE Events was a welcome partner in the overall effort.

Corporate sponsors included Advisor 360°; Charles River Laboratories; Commonwealth Cares Fund, Inc.; Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation; John Hancock Investments; Kestra Financial; Rockland Trust Bank; Vestmark, Inc.; Charles River Associates; Newton-Wellesley Hospital; Winthrop Wealth Management; Cardio Sport; Movement Mortgage; Smith, Sullivan & Brown, P.C.; TFC Financial Management, Inc.; The Nelson Companies; The Village Bank; Tito’s Handmade Vodka; and Watertown Savings Bank.


 About REACH:

REACH Beyond Domestic Violence (Refuge, Education, Advocacy, and CHange) is a nonprofit organization committed to creating healthy and safe relationships for individuals and communities by ending domestic violence. It provides direct services and advocacy for a highly diverse population in 27 cities and towns in Boston’s western suburbs. For more than 40 years, REACH has provided safety and support to survivors of domestic violence, while engaging communities to create lasting change. REACH partners with government and private agencies to support survivors, raises public awareness about domestic and dating violence, and advocates for policies and programs to protect and assist survivors. To learn more, visit

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