Unprecedented Fundraising During Economic Downturn
(New York, NY) — Nearly 1,100 financial professionals, prominent business leaders, and philanthropists gathered on December 16, 2008 at UJA-Federation of New York Wall Street Dinner, one of New York City’s most important and prestigious philanthropic events, organized by UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street & Financial Services Division. During the worst economic downturn in decades, the Wall Street community demonstrated their unwavering generosity and dedication to supporting the needs of the most vulnerable by raising a staggering $18.8 million.
“It is a true testament to the collective power of the Wall Street community,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president & CEO of UJA-Federation, “Despite these tumultuous economic times, our donors have realized the escalating need of our services and ‘those who can’ give have heeded the call for those who are unable. It is extraordinary that during this economic climate we are able to exceed last year’s attendance and raise significant funds.”
Gary D. Cohn, president and co-chief operating officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., received The Gustave L. Levy Award. Considered a pre-eminent honor in the industry, this award recognizes a leader in the Wall Street community both for exceptional professional achievement and for an enduring commitment to UJA-Federation. Previous honorees include Richard A. Friedman, Daniel S. Och, Morris W. Offit, Michael Minikes, Leon M. Wagner, and Jeffrey B. Lane.
Jonathan M Harris, president of Alternative Investment Management, received The Wall Street Young Leadership Award, which recognizes a young professional who demonstrates exemplary leadership, a steadfast commitment to the community, and continued generosity to UJA-Federation. Previous honorees include Larry Robbins, Scott S. Prince, Alexandra Lebenthal, Ricky Sandler, Jeffrey L. Verschleiser, and Stephen J. Girsky.
Stressing the importance of giving back in more ways than philanthropically, for the first time ever attendees were asked to pull out their smartphones during the program to enroll in a volunteer-service program at any number of UJA-Federation’s health, human-service, educational, and community beneficiary agencies. Those who volunteer will later be matched up with prominent members of the Wall Street community for service assignments, giving them an opportunity to give back to their communities and help those in need while also developing relationships with key members of the Wall Street community.
In addition, a number of donors donated seats and tables so that unemployed Wall Streeters could be given the opportunity to attend. An unprecedented 50 seats were donated for the unemployed, and an additional 50 seats were donated for business-school students.
The theme of giving back continued through the Wall Street After Hours Party, a collaboration between UJA-Federation and corporate partner Trump Entertainment Resorts. Attendees had the opportunity to have their cheeks swabbed to learn if they are candidates for bone-marrow donations. Over the past few years that UJA-Federation has offered this opportunity, nearly 300 people have been swabbed, resulting in 11 successful donor matches and 1 donor transplant to date.
The Wall Street After Hours Party also featured Texas hold’em, blackjack, roulette, craps, interactive video games, dessert, an open bar, a D.J., and prizes.
Among the Wall Street community’s prominent business leaders and philanthropists who gave their support as dinner and journal chairs were J. Ira Harris, chairman at J.I. Harris & Associates, LLC; Daniel S. Och, CEO of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group; Jeffrey Cohen, managing director of Banc of America Securities; Steven C. Jaffe, vice president of Jacobson Partners; Holly Newman Kroft, senior vice president of Neuberger Berman, LLC; David G. Kupperman, partner at Alternative Investment Management; Marc Lasry, chairman and CEO of Avenue Capital Group; Marc S. Lipschultz, member at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.; David Moore, CEO of Moore Holdings, LLC; Richard C. Perry, CEO of Perry Capital; David Z. Solomon, managing director of Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Lenard B. Tessler, managing director of Cerberus Capital Management LP; and Leon M. Wagner, chairman at GoldenTree Asset Management, LP.