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Flagship Fundraiser Spotlights Philanthropy, Physicians and Research

National Women’s Division Flagship Fundraiser Spotlights Einstein Philanthropy, Physicians and Research

The world of medical research mingled with the world of high fashion on Wednesday, May 9 at the Plaza Hotel, where Einstein’s National Women’s Division held its 58th annual Spirit of Achievement Luncheon, hosted by its New York City chapter. Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the Women’s Division’s current initiative to support cutting-edge basic and translational research studies at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center focusing on women’s health and breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers.

Roxanne Palin, Dr. Mark Einstein, Dr. Allen M Spiegel
Roxanne Palin, Dr. Mark Einstein, Dr. Allen M Spiegel
Mindy Feinberg, co-president of the New York Chapter, kicked off the program with a surprise presentation to Willie Geist of MSNBC’s Way Too Early with Willie Geist and Morning Joe, and a contributor to NBC’s Today show, who has donated his time and talent as the luncheon’s emcee for the past four years.  “You have been such an important part of our Spirit Luncheons,” she told Mr. Geist as she handed him a framed, illustrated certificate, “and as a heartfelt expression of our esteem and appreciation, the Women’s Division would like to include your children’s names on our “Wall of the Future. It’s a donor recognition area in Einstein’s state-of-the-art research facility – the Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine /Harold and Muriel Block Research.” 

In her welcoming remarks, New York chapter co-president Mara Sandler told guests, “People usually get involved with great causes after the fact — supporting the institution where they were treated, or where their doctor is affiliated. That’s why your presence here is so wonderful. Because Einstein is at the forefront of forward-thinking research designed to make a future difference in our lives — and in the lives of our children and grandchildren.”

This year’s honorees were National Women’s Division board member Roxanne Palin, famed jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz, and Dr. Mark Einstein, associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health and director of clinical research for women’s health and gynecologic oncology at both Einstein and its University Hospital Montefiore Medical Center.

Ms. Palin received the Women’s Division’s prestigious Lizette H. Sarnoff Award for outstanding volunteer service. She was honored for her leadership within the Women’s Division and her instrumental role, over 10 years, in developing the New York Chapter’s annual Family Day Carnival fundraiser for Einstein into one of the Hamptons’ major summer social events for families.  Previous recipients of the Sarnoff Award have included Dana Reeve, Mary Tyler Moor, Betty Ford, Jean Kennedy Smith and Rita Rosen, an Einstein Overseer and a past president of the National Women’s Division.

“Growing up, my home was always abuzz because my parents always had their hands in a cause,” Ms. Palin told the guests. “So it’s no surprise that Einstein’s passionate, collaborative culture keeps me inspired and involved.” Ms. Palin acknowledged all her Family Day co-chairs; her aunt, Michele Wolkoff, who served as chair of the luncheon; and her husband, Dean, a two-time watermelon-eating champ at Family Day.

In introducing Dr. Einstein for his honor, Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, Einstein’s Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, said, “When I was asked to suggest a faculty honoree, it was actually a very easy choice. Mark is both a compassionate physician to his patients and a brilliant researcher.” 

Then, smiling, he added, “Of course, it didn’t hurt that his last name is Einstein.”

Willie Geist, Sofia Vergara, Lorraine Schwartz
Willie Geist, Sofia Vergara, Lorraine Schwartz
In a moving speech, Dr. Einstein spoke of how oncologists “take on the burden of their patients’ struggles, which drives me to work harder.” He also stressed how screening and prevention have now led to a decline in certain cancers, such as cervical cancer, “which as recently as 60 years ago was the number one cancer killer of women in the United States. Now it doesn’t even make the top 10 because, in most cases, we can prevent it before it’s diagnosed.”

Next, Ms. Sandler, co-president of the Women’s Division’s New York Chapter, introduced Ms. Schwartz, relating how they had bonded over the loss of their mothers to cancer and their “mutual love of bling.”

“My mother’s early death due to cancer has led to my ongoing support of medical research and treatment,” said Ms. Schwartz, whose clients include A-list celebrities, politicians and heads of state. “There have been so many new techniques developed throughout the years to help fight cancer, and I’d like to help whenever I can.”

In a departure from past programs, this year’s event included a fashion show spotlighting fashion designer Randi Rahm’s couture collection, complemented by Ms. Schwartz’s jeweled creations.

Guests at the luncheon also were invited to suggest future topics for “Ask the Einstein Doctors,” an informal “conversation series” that began last fall, which thus far has spotlighted autism, Alzheimer’s disease and several other health issues. Among those in attendance were Andrea Stark, honorary luncheon chair; past Spirit honorees who included Einstein faculty members Drs. Sylvia Smoller, and Joseph Sparano, as well as Rita Rosen; Emily Fisher Landau; cosmetics entrepreneur Adrien Arpel; and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, head of New York’s fashion week. They were joined by Tina Knowles, mother of pop singer Beyoncé, and TV stars Sophia Vergara (Modern Family) and Kyle MacLachlan (Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City).

Since 1953, the National Women’s Division has raised millions of dollars to support biomedical research and education programs at Einstein. The longest-running event of its kind, the Spirit of Achievement Luncheon is the Division’s flagship fundraiser.  Past honorees have included Meryl Streep, Lena Horne, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead and a host of other luminaries.

Spirit Gallery

(To view the slideshow of the Spirit Gallery, click on an image below; then move your mouse over the left or right margins to navigate.)

Carol Roaman, Ellie Wohl Bambi Felberbaum, Janet Hershaft, Karen Mandelbaum, Renee Belfer   Mara Sandler, Mindy Feinberg, Roxanne Palin, Jackie Harris HochbergAddressing women’s cancers

Posted on: Thursday, May 24, 2012