Affinia Healthcare Foundation Gala Honors Area’s Equity Leaders  

The annual fundraiser for the Affinia Healthcare Foundation is returning to the Stifel Theater September 14 and this year’s gala is honoring those leading the charge for equity for all. 

The Starburst Gala is the premiere fundraising event for the Affinia Healthcare Foundation. The Affinia Healthcare Foundation provides funding and resources to support healthcare and services for the most vulnerable and disenfranchised in our community, through the work of Affinia Healthcare, our community health center. 

“This year the theme of our Starburst Gala is Advancing Equity, focusing on the health disparities among Black, Brown, Veterans, LGBTQIA+ individuals and other vulnerable populations in our region,” explained Yvonne Buhlinger, Executive Vice President for the Foundation. “Each of the leaders recognized with our Advancing Equity award during the Starburst Gala have demonstrated excellence in their respective fields and a stellar level of commitment to equity for our community.”   

Those leaders being honored at the Starburst Gala in the following categories are:  

Immigrant and Refugee Health  

  • Arrey Obenson, President and CEO, International Institute of St. Louis 
  • Antonio Maldonado, Chair of the Hispanic Leaders Group of Greater St. Louis 
  • Kristina Le, President, St. Louis Vietnamese Community  

Dental Health for Veterans   

  • Dr. Herbert Silva, Professor, A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health/St. Louis Dental Center, and Founder of Veterans Smiles  

Behavioral Health, Substance Use Disorders and Violence Prevention   

  • Wesley Bell, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney 

Maternal and Infant Health 

  • Infant Health: Dr. Yolette Brown, Pediatrician and former Chief Medical Officer at Affinia Healthcare 
  • Maternal Health: Kendra Copanas, Executive Director, Generate Health  

Unhoused Services   

  • Opal Jones, President and CEO, Doorways  

LGBTQIA+ Community Outreach and Support 

  • Right Reverend Bishop Deon Johnson, Episcopal Diocese of Missouri 

“The Starburst Gala is an opportunity for the community to recognize and further support the phenomenal work Affinia Healthcare is doing in our community,” said Yvonne Buhlinger, “and we’re so excited to bring the Gala back in-person. We are so grateful for the support we received from our donors during the pandemic. The support of donors and community members was critical during this time. We are so grateful that so many helped us continue to serve and care for our patients in need.” 

starburst gala honoreesThe Affinia Healthcare Foundation strives to secure financial resources to address unmet healthcare needs in our community through the strategic initiatives of Affinia Healthcare. These initiatives include immigrant and refugee health; dental health for veterans; behavioral health (substance abuse and violence prevention); maternal and infant mortality; and services for the unhoused in our community. 

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are now available. For more information, go to: or call Yvonne Buhlinger at 314-814-8507.