In the Spirit of Achievement

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Taking shelter from the rain. Photo: JH.

Thursday, June 15, 2023. Warm and sunny yesterday in New York with a couple of major rainstorms, and more of the same predicted for today.

The Women’s Division of Albert Einstein College of Medicine held its 68th Spirit of Achievement Awards Luncheon at the Rainbow Room. This annual “Women Funding Science” event recognizes notable achievements in the arts, philanthropy, and medicine to raise funds for comprehensive health care through cutting-edge research that changes the course of human health. 

Co-Presidents of the Women’s Division Terri Goldberg and Trudy Schlachter.

This year’s honorees included award-winning singer-songwriter Judy Collins, Broadway Producers Fran and Barry Weissler, Marla J. Keller, MD, Director of the Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center, and Karen Mandelbaum, Philanthropist and Einstein Trustee.

The awards began as a mother-daughter luncheon 70 years ago in 1954. Their first honorees were Marlene Dietrich and her daughter Maria Riva, and it was the very first “benefit luncheon” in Manhattan. All these years later it is still going strong and is now considered a power-house luncheon for women in all fields, from Broadway and music to journalism and medicine.

Honorees Fran Weissler, Judy Collins, and Barry Weissler.
Yaron Tomer MD and Honoree Marla J. Keller MD.
The Mandelbaum family.

The list of past honorees at the Spirit Luncheon is astounding, and includes Eleanor Roosevelt, Meryl Streep, Barbara Walters, Sharon Stone, Christine Baranski, Anne Bancroft, Jane Pauley, Gloria Steinem, Twyla Tharp, Candice Bergen, Barbara Corcoran, Hoda Kotb, Cynthia Nixon, Whoopi Goldberg, Cindy Crawford, Katie Couric, Vera Wang, Iris Apfel, Shirley MacLaine, Elsa Peretti, Joyce Carol Oates, Diane von Furstenberg, Patricia Field, Susan Lucci, Glenn Close, Diane Sawyer, Nora Ephron, Evelyn Lauder, Jill Martin, Donna Karan to name just a few.

The members of the Women’s Division of are a driving force in aiding medical research and education for the development of innovative treatments and cures for life-threatening conditions.

The 68th Spirit of Achievement Luncheon at the Rainbow Room.

The luncheon was hosted by Co-Presidents of the Women’s Division of Albert Einstein College of Medicine Terri Goldberg and Trudy Schlachter, and Luncheon Chairs Carol Roaman, Betty Pantirer Schwartz, and Andrea Stark. On top of that Judy Collins treated the guests with a surprise vocal rendition of one of her greatest hits, Both Sides Now, and the crowd sang along.

This Women’s Division has raised more than $100 million and has established: a Wing for Prenatal Studies and Research in Birth Defects, a Clinical Research Institute for Child Development, and has funded major research in immunodiagnosis and immunotherapy in cancer.

To learn more, click here.

Andrea Stark, Trudy Schlachter, Ruth Gottesman, and Carol Roaman.

Karen Mandelbaum and Daryl Roth.
L. to r.: Dr. Oren Tepper, Karen Mandelbaum, and Melissa Ceriale; Trudy Schlachter and Terri Goldberg.
Rebecca Mandelbaum, Katy Friedland, Camille Powers, Betsy Ramage, and Kip Mandelbaum.
Andrea Stark, Ginger Feuer Leeds, and Robbi Toll.
F. Murray Abraham and Georgette Bennett.
Judy Collins.

This past Sunday, the New York Junior League’s Playground Improvement Project program completed its project revitalizing Marcus Garvey Park in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks). The ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by NYJL President Serra Eken and attended by Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Anthony Perez, NYC Parks leaders, volunteers, and community members.

The 32nd annual Playground Improvement Project took place over six weekends in April and May 2023, with more than 500 volunteers dedicating more than 2,200 hours to paint, landscape, and restore the much-loved community space of Marcus Garvey Park. This year’s project also included the creation of a monarch butterfly garden, providing sustenance and a safe space for the endangered species along the south side of the park. In addition to hands-on volunteer work, the NYJL donated critical funding to help NYC Parks build an ambitious horticulture sustainability program with two new on-site greenhouses.

“The New York Junior League is proud to have helped create this groundbreaking greenhouse sustainability program, which will hope will ensure that NYC Parks can grow plants for all four Historic Harlem Parks and Thomas Jefferson Park for years to come,” said NYJL President Serra Eken. “The greenhouses will also provide a dedicated space to hold public horticultural education and engagement programs, allowing NYC Parks to host hands-on learning opportunities for all ages.”
Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Anthony Perez and NYJL EVP Leigh Morbey Favale.
Playground Improvement Project Co-Chairs Ellen Lichius and Caitlin Martin.

Since it was opened to the public in 1840, Marcus Garvey Park has been a space where New Yorkers can gather, relax, and recharge. Located in Harlem, the park is named after Marcus Mosiah Garvey, an early advocate of Black Nationalism and economic independence. Spanning over twenty acres, it provides pastimes for all ages through its playgrounds, pool, amphitheater, and various athletic courts. As New York City rebuilds after the pandemic, Marcus Garvey Park will continue to be a vibrant communal resource to Harlem and its surrounding community.

NYJL Director at Large Kathleen Adams.
L. to r.: NYJL Community Senior Council Head Pam Siler; NYJL City Impact Council Head Mercedes de Guardiola.
Serra Eken, Mercedes de Guardiola, and Anthony Perez during the ribbon cutting.
Playground Improvement Project Committee.
Butterfly release.

Last Saturday, over at Eastern Bookstore NYC in Manhattan’s Chinatown, author and newspaper columnist Qin Sun Stubis held the U.S. launch of her award-winning, critically acclaimed new historical saga, Once Our Lives.

Mark Stubis and author of Once Our Lives, Qin Sun Stubis.

A crowd of writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and lovers of history filled the gallery to hear readings from the sweeping epic about four generations of women struggling to survive war, revolution, and the seemingly unshakeable power of an ancient Chinese superstition.

Guests listened to fantastical but true stories from the book, which includes colorful and vivid accounts of kidnappings by pirates, bizarre prophecies that seem to come true, and babies sold in opium dens – receiving a rare glimpse into the hidden stories of people living in the shadows of some of the greatest historical events of the 20th Century.

Kirkus Reviews calls Once Our Lives “…a sweeping story, rich with detail” and “a wide-ranging story that keeps the reader engaged throughout.”

The audience at Eastern Bookstore NYC.
Artist and gallery director Halley Sun Stubis, Qin Sun Stubis, and mathematician Keaton Sun Stubis.
Jeanette Puccini, Loretta Puccini, and Juliet Puccini-Bronstein.
Daniel and Pat Flynn.
Pianist and filmmaker Donna Weng-Friedman and editor Amal Morcos.
Qin Sun Stubis, educator Susan Tobias, and engineer Marty Tobias.
Vivian, James, Richard, and Robert Wu.
Jae Seong and Young Hee Joo.
Dr. Joyce Bobrow, Qin Sun Stubis, Arieh Bobrow, and Dr. Michelle Bobrow.
Connie To, Dr. Susan Ruel, Mimi Zheng, and Susan Levkoff.

New York keeps on dancing. Choreographer Joshua Beamish and MOVETHECOMPANY gave New York audiences a modern reimagining of the beloved classic ballet romance, Giselle.

This technology-driven, contemporary reinvention, titled @giselle, featured Betsy McBride (ABT) performing the title role of Giselle; Harrison James (National Ballet of Canada) dancing the role of Albrecht; Sterling Baca (Philadelphia Ballet) as Hilarion; Fangqi Li (ABT) as Bathilde, and Beverley Bagg as Berthe, as well as an all-star ensemble.

L. to r.: Fangqi Li & Harrison James; Harrison James & Betsy McBride.

Joanna Fisher sponsored an opening night reception in partnership with Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA). Guests included Joseph Doherty, Richard Feldman, Darrell George, Joe Hickey, ABT’s Catherine Hurlin, Denise Hurlin, Loretta Lachner, Jim McConnell, Elizabeth O’Keefe, Rajika Puri, Josh Prince, Yolanda Santos Garza, Irene Shen, Catherine Scheinman, Larissa Saveliev, and Barbara Tober.

As a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, DRA supports the essential programs of The Entertainment Community Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative and The Dancers’ Resource, as well as more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide.

Sterling Baca.
Betsy McBride.

Beamish directed and choreographed @giselle to explore connections between the original classical ballet and our modern understandings of love, sex, and relationships in a world filled with dating apps, social media, and fleeting encounters. He shared, “@giselle is a careful examination of the evaporation of romance in our culture, and the isolation, narcissism, and lack of accountability that social networks have fueled. By reimagining this story with motion capture technologies and a social media framework, I want to challenge audiences to consider the ways technology is changing the very nature of modern love and relationships.”

@giselle opened May 18, co-presented by The CUNY Dance Initiative and The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College.

For more information at

Joanna Fisher greets Joshua Beamish.
Catherine Hurlin, Joshua Beamish, and Denise Hurlin.
Loretta Lachner and Chelsea Beamish.
L. to r.: Jim McConnell and Joe Hickey; Rajika Puri and Joshua Beamish.
Larissa Saveliev and Yolanda Santos.
Elizabeth O’Keefe, Joseph Doherty, and Barbara Tober.

Photographs by John Sanderson/ (Einstein & Once Our Lives); Nina Wurtzel (Beamish).

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