United Hospital Fund Recognizes Two New Yorkers and Crisis-Response Foundation for Their Leadership to Improve Health and Health Care
United Hospital Fund paid tribute tonight at its annual gala to Stanley Brezenoff, Debra G. Perelman, CEO of Revlon, and Afya Foundation for improving the health and well-being of New Yorkers, mental health care for children, and the emergency response to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, respectively.
The event at Cipriani 42nd Street raised almost $1.3 million and was attended by more than 500 health care, business, and community leaders, marking the opening of UHF’s 140th fund-raising campaign in support of its work to build a more effective health care system for all New Yorkers.
Stanley Brezenoff received UHF’s Health Care Leadership Award, recognizing four decades of public service tackling some of the metropolitan region’s toughest challenges, and leading its most complex organizations, including New York’s vast public hospital network, the largest public health system in the nation—twice. He also helmed the city’s Human Resources Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, served as first deputy mayor of the City of New York, and was CEO of Maimonides Medical Center and Continuum Health Partners. He started his public service career in 1978 under Mayor Koch and continues to play a vital role, at 80 years old. In April Mayor de Blasio called him out of retirement to take over as interim chairman of New York City Housing Authority, the largest public housing agency in North America. In every role he has taken on he has been driven by his fundamental compassion for the people of New York, belief in government’s ability to improve the lives, and his bedrock personal values.
The Health Care Leadership Award was established by United Hospital Fund in 1998 to recognize strong and sustained leadership aimed at improving health care in New York City and beyond.
Debra G. Perelman, President and CEO of Revlon, was awarded the Distinguished Community Service award for her leadership to improve treatment for childhood mental health disorders as co-founder and vice-chair of the Child Mind Institute (CMI). Ms. Perelman was moved by the magnitude of the problem: One in five children in the U.S. has a diagnosable mental health problem, and yet a lack of awareness, stigma, and inadequate access to care keep the majority of these young people from getting the help they need. She co-founded CMI in 2009, an independent national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders by providing the highest standard of care, advancing science on the developing brain, and elevating public awareness and education. CMI draws young patients from across the country and the world with conditions like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette syndrome, selective mutism, ADHD and more. Its financial aid program, ardently championed by Ms. Perelman, has provided vital help to low-income families; fifty-six percent of patients at CMI receive free or reduced-cost services. CMI’s Healthy Brain Network is collecting brain images from 10,000 children, which will be the largest sample ever collected and available to the global scientific community to accelerate discovery. CMI has also mounted a number of successful public awareness and education initiatives. As the first female CEO in Revlon’s history, Ms. Perelman has broken many barriers, and her tireless leadership to advance the frontiers of children’s mental health care is one of them.
The Distinguished Community Service Award, established by UHF in 1987, recognizes volunteer leadership that significantly improves health care in New York. For the thirteenth year, the Award has been generously supported by TIAA, the leading provider of retirement services in the medical, academic, research, and cultural fields. Roger Ferguson, President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA, presented the award to Ms. Perelman.
Afya Foundation and its founder, Danielle Butin, were awarded a Special Tribute for the organization’s vital assistance to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria last year, and for its response to crises worldwide. Since Ms. Butin founded Afya in 2007 the organization has sent hundreds of shipping containers, packed with surplus medical and humanitarian supplies gathered from hospital and health care partners across the New York metropolitan region, to more than 70 countries facing acute or ongoing crisis. Puerto Rico’s port was too damaged by Maria to unload containers, but with the help of UJA-Federation of New York, Afya was able to commandeer donated corporate and private planes to deliver the supplies within 48 hours after the hurricane devasted the island. It turned to Greater New York Hospital Association to help organize donations of medical supplies from area hospitals, and ultimately sent more than 25 flights to Puerto Rico in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, delivering 100,000 pounds of medical supplies to some 400 sites of care. A year later, Afya staffers and volunteers are still at work helping recovery efforts on the island.
J. Barclay Collins II, chairman of United Hospital Fund’s board of directors, served as Gala chairman.
“The individuals and organizations we are honoring embody the ideals of United Hospital Fund and our mission to improve health and health care and build a more effective health care system,” said Anthony Shih, MD, MPH, president of UHF. “We are inspired by their commitment to addressing the health needs of all people, especially of vulnerable populations.”