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NYSD Philanthropy entries:

Children for Children

City Harvest (1)

City Harvest (2)

Hurricane Katrina

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Metropolitan Opera Guild

Partnership for Public Service

Safe Horizon

Southampton Fresh Air Home

TAPS

Consultant’s Corner:

Cultivation of the Prospect

The Art of Asking

Hiring a consultant

Identifying Volunteers


by Valerie Gladstone

“I was born into a family where it was taken for granted that you helped others,” says Diana Ronan Quasha, Chair of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. “I can’t imagine doing otherwise.” She is referring to her father, the distinguished William Ronan, who created the Metropolitan transportation Authority in 1969 when Nelson Rockefeller was governor, and later chaired the Port Authority. Her mother, who was born in Spain, was always active in caring organizations.

Diana Quasha with Sigrid Streletsky and Paola Costagli at a luncheon at the House of Nardi for Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.

Quasha makes herself comfortable in an old-fashioned airy classroom in the homey and old-fashioned headquarters of this distinguished 112-year-old community organization on East 70th Street. She is dressed stylishly in black skirt, sweater and tall boots, no surprise given her background in fashion and design. Now owner of the luxurious costume jewelry enterprise, Duchess and Tart, she earned a degree from Columbia University Business School, just two months before giving birth to her twin sons (she had a third son only two years later).

But in spite of all her responsibilities, Quasha started her career at Bloomingdale's and in the following two decades oversaw the restructuring and re-merchandizing of Gumps in San Francisco and then became the President of Compagnie de la Chine, the US branch of Compagnie Francaise de l'Orient et de la Chine, a home furnishings business based in Paris.  “I had a great time,” she says. “I like stuff. I like design.”

But more than anything, Quasha likes people. And that is what prompted Sydney Shuman and Nancy Wackstein, Lenox Hill executives, to ask her to be president of the board in TK. “Nancy said, `They tell me you’re smart, now show me,’” she says. And show them she did,  raising thousands of dollars on behalf of this crucial organization. “Because I was trained in the corporate world,” she says, “I saw things a certain way. My first objective was to strengthen the board itself. We needed more corporate muscle.” She reduced the members from 45 to 35, selecting people who were connected with the neighborhood and came from different backgrounds.

Sydney Shuman, Diana Quasha, and Audrey Gruss at the 2006 Spring International Art and Antiques Fair.

“We have to  become more visible in the neighborhood,” Quasha says. “That’s my main objective today.  20,000 people, from toddlers to the aged, come through here every year. We serve 300,000 meals every year. Though this is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the world, it also has untold numbers of people who need aid. We’re just going to have to knock on our neighbor’s doors, and make East Siders aware of us. I want the House to become financially secure. Too many depend on us for us not to be.”

Quasha loves to show off the facilities, particularly the new wonderfully-designed play roof and swimming pool, and the renovated senior center a few doors down from headquarters. “As the daughter of an elderly father,” she says, walking into the cheery building, “I am particularly aware of older people’s needs. I like to come in here and see it filled with men and women from the neighborhood using the computers or being taught new skills.” She turns to point out some drawings of clothes up on the wall. “I suppose it’s because I come from fashion but I thought one of the nicest things our arts director recently did was hold a fashion show here, where everyone could participate. They all dressed up. It was a huge success. The clothes were fabulous. Something like that really makes me smile. Lenox Hill has been my life in so many ways for the past 25 years.”

Left: Diana at the 17th annual Holiday Bazaar at Sothebys (2004). Above: Diana with Frances Schultz at a cocktail reception at Holland & Holland (2003).
Above: Renee Landegger and Diana at a cocktail reception at Celine for LHNH (2004). Right: Elizabeth Rohatyn, Diana, and Walter Fisher at the opening night preview of the International Fine Art Fair (2003).
At "Pillow Talk," Lenox Hill Neighborhood House's 16th Annual Holiday Bazaar Preview Party. L. to r.: Diana Quasha, Eva Dillon, DPC, Brendan Dillon, Andrea Donahue, and Virginia Pittman; Diana with Mark Epstein (2003).
Kickoff lunch for LHNH's 17th Annual Holiday Bazaar at Doubles (2004), l. to r.: Julia Wallace and Diana Quasha; Mark Gilbertson, Teresa Grimm, Nancy Baker, John Rosselli, Chris Meigher, Blakely Griggs, Diana Quasha, Eva Dillon, Sydney Shuman, Bunny Williams, Grace Meigher, and Julia Wallace.
18th annual Holiday Bazaar (2005), l. to r.: Diana Quasha and Audrey Gruss; Mireya D'Angelo, Warren Scharf, and Diana Quasha.
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House kick off at Guy Regal's (2005), l. to r.: Diana with Jamie Drake; Guy Regal; Julie Dannenberg.
Annette de la Renta, John Rosselli, and Diana Quasha at the 16th Annual Holiday Bazaar (2003).
Diana and Roric Tobin at a kickoff cocktail reception at Boccara Gallery for LHNH's 2006 Spring Gala, "The Time Machine."
L. to r.: Diana Quasha and Tom Edelman at the Preview of the New York International Art and Antiques Show (2005); Eva Dillon, John Rosselli, and Diana at Scalamandre to kick off LHNH's 17th Annual Holiday Bazaar (2005); Diana Quasha with Walter Fisher at the 11th annual International Fine Art Fair (2004).

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