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April 12, 2019

58th Annual Charter Award Dinner Raises $700,000, Pays Tribute to Women's Contributions to College

Three business trailblazers, the college's first female graduates, and a Class of 2020 aspiring doctor were among the headliners at this year's Charter Award Dinner, St. Francis College's flagship annual fundraiser that brought in $700 thousand to support students' access to quality, affordable education.

The April 3rd event, emceed by local CBS News on-air veteran Cindy Hsu, attracted nearly 500 SFC alumni and friends to the ballroom at Pier 60 in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood to enjoy drinks, dinner and bidding on dozens of silent-auction items. The event paid special tribute to St. Francis College's fifty years of educating lay women.

The evening's program honored a trio of distinguished women professionals, each of whom have unique ties to St. Francis College. They received degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters, and shared personal stories of forging successful careers and the role St. Francis plays in their lives. They are:

  • Peggi Einhorn, the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Peggi's son, Andrew Lasky, graduated SFC in 2011.
  • Lorraine M. Lynch, Senior Vice President at National Grid responsible for Finance Business Partnering in the U.S. She is a member of SFC's class of 1991.
  • Stephanie Whittier, the Executive Director Private Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. Stephanie currently serves on SFC's Development Committee.

The honorees helped inspire The Women's Leadership Education Initiative, a new fund unveiled at the dinner whose initials mirror theirs. The fund, which raised its first $50,000 that night, will support a myriad of opportunities for women at the college.

The night also included a stirring speech by Merna Abdelhalem (class of 2020) a McGuire Scholar who is the daughter of immigrants and the first in her family to attend college. She described how the death of her beloved uncle cemented her commitment to become a doctor.

Seven of the first twelve women to enroll in St. Francis College in 1969 took the stage in an emotional reunion. Marge Dougherty-Russo, speaking on their behalf, expressed gratitude for the camaraderie they experienced during their undergraduate days and still feel today.

Thomas Flood, the Vice President for Advancement, capped off the evening by revealing a new scholarship named for Lt. Col. Philip C. Valenti USAF (Ret.) Class of 1950, whose estate left a legacy gift of $1.3 million earmarked for scholarships for female students.

Notable alumni, leaders and college allies mingled among the crowd, including, SFC President Dr. Miguel Martinez-Saenz, whose passionate address reminded attendees to use education to make a life, not just a living, National Grid's Kenneth Daly, who runs a namesake SFC lecture series and introduced honoree Lorraine Lynch, Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Salamone ('75) and members of SFC President's Cabinet.

Funds raised at the Charter Award Dinner support the mission of St. Francis College to provide a quality, private college education at an affordable price. They go towards need- and merit-based scholarships, classroom upgrades, new programs to prepare students for the 21st century job market, and maintaining stellar academic instruction in small classes.

The Charter Award Dinner began in 1962 by the St. Francis Board of Trustees to commemorate New York State granting the College a charter and the right to confer diplomas, honors and degrees. For more than five decades, the Charter Award Dinner has been the College's premier fundraising event and has raised millions of dollars to support scholarship programs and further the educational mission at St. Francis.

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