By Christopher A. Pape
Jean Shafiroff is a philanthropic leader and active volunteer for multiple Southampton and New York City charitable organizations. Her managerial skills, compassion, generosity and enthusiastic dedication are among her strongest traits. She possesses a unique ability to connect different charitable groups with interested people and resources. In her philanthropic career, Shafiroff serves as a board member, chairwoman, underwriter and hostess of a long list of charity events. Every year, Shafiroff is actively engaged in chairing several large benefits. In 2010 and 2011, she served as the chairwoman of the Southampton Hospital’s Annual Summer party, which she looks forward to chairing again this summer on August 3rd. Her honorary co-chair is Audrey Gruss, who along with her husband, recently gave a five million dollar gift to create the Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart and Stroke Center at the Southampton Hospital. Her current board memberships include the New York Women’s Foundation, the French Heritage Society, the Couture Council, the Lighthouse International Advisory Board, Southampton Bath & Tennis Club’s Charitable Foundation and JBFCS. She is also an Honorary Board Member of the Southampton Animal Shelter and will serve as one of the Honorary co-chairs of its gala on July 20th. Shafiroff holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and a BS in physical therapy from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. She has worked both in public finance and private partnerships on Wall Street. Married to Martin D. Shafiroff, an investment advisor, the Shafiroffs have two daughters, Jacqueline and Elizabeth, who share their parent’s interest in charitable causes. They have residences in Manhattan and Southampton. Shafiroff’s other interests include writing, travel, style and fashion.
Resident (R): What makes someone a New Yorker?
Jean Shafiroff (JS): New York is exciting and diverse. I love the culture and the pace of it. New Yorkers are all about diversity. That’s what makes it so interesting.
R: Why do you love the Hamptons?
JS: The Hamptons are beautiful with some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. In the Hamptons, you can be as socially active or as private as you want to be. Most of all, the Hamptons are a place to relax and to have fun. Out of season, I consider the Hamptons a little bit of paradise.
R: What are your favorite things to do while you’re at your Hampton’s home?
JS: I like to relax, read and spend private time with my family.
R: Favorite restaurants in New York and the Hamptons?
JS: Since I love fresh and uncomplicated food, I like to dine at Sant Ambroeus in New York and Southampton. Other restaurants I love are Elios and Sushi by Gari. For special occasions I love Craft, Le Cirque and Le Grenouille. In the Hamptons, I love Nick and Tony’s, The Palm, Mirkos, and salads from The Golden Pear and Citarella.
R: Tell us about your home in the Hamptons.
JS: Our home in the Hamptons is very simple. We are near the beach and on a pond. For us, it is perfect.
R: You are well-known for your charitable giving - tell us about that.
JS: I do give a good deal of my time and available resources to different charities. However, I wish I could do more. The United States is a great country, and I am most fortunate to live here. The spirit of giving back is a strong part of the American culture. We must always work to help those in need -- we must maintain a strong middle class and always try to empower people out of poverty. I believe philanthropy will play an even greater role in our country in the future.
R: Which charities do you work with: why do you love them so much?
JS: In the Hamptons, I am very active with Southampton Hospital. This summer, I will chair the Hospital’s Summer Gala for the third time.
Southampton Hospital is vitally important to both those who visit and live in the Hamptons. I believe in health care for all – Southampton Hospital turns no one down and serves about 25,000 visitors each year. I try to do my part, but many others have generously given both time and money to the hospital as well, including Howard Lorber, Jenny and John Paulson, Audrey and Martin Gruss and Jean Remmel ... and, of course, so much is due to the great leadership of our Hospital President, Robert Chaloner. As a team we have helped to improve the emergency room of the hospital and now the heart and stroke department which is so important.
I also am very active with the Southampton Animal Shelter and chaired their Gala last year and will serve as an honorary chair of their Gala this year. The Southampton Animal Shelter is ranked in the top 10% of shelters in the US. I am involved with the shelter because my family and I love animals - we have four shelter dogs and one cat. I am also involved as a board member and co-chair of the Charitable Foundation of a private Southampton Club. My board memberships include The New York Women’s Foundation, JBFCS, The Couture Council of FIT, French Heritage Society, Lighthouse International Advisory Board and the Southampton Bath and Tennis Club’s Charitable Fund. All of these charities are involved with improving the lives of others.
R: How did you get involved with so many charities?
JS: I stayed at home while raising our children. However, I was involved with the charities but to a much lesser extent. When our daughters went off to college, I felt compelled to do something meaningful for our community ... and then different charitable groups asked me to get involved. Of course, I can’t be involved with every charity, but these are all great ones and very important to me personally.
R: How do you help these charities raise funds?
JS: Well, it’s hard work. We hold events and then we must reach out to individuals and ask for funds -- and it is not easy to do this. However, with so many people in need, it is very important to ask -- and to give. There really is no greater gift than to be able to give.
R: What is on your social/charity calendar for the summer?
JS: This summer, I will chair the 55th Annual Summer Party for the Southampton Hospital on August 3rd. This is my third time chairing the Summer Party. As chairwoman in 2010 and 2012, total funds raised were $1.75 million and about $2 million, respectively. My work for this event begins about eight months before the actual event. I work with a wonderful team of volunteers and professionals. Each year, the Summer Party attracts about 900 people. The funds raised this year will go towards maintaining the John and Jenny Paulson Emergency Room and the Martin and Audrey Gruss Heart and Stroke Center. We are excited to have Audrey Gruss as our honorary chair. We are grateful to both the Gruss family and the Paulson family for their generosity to the Hospital! I will also serve as an Honorary Chair of the Southampton Animal Shelter on July 20th. This event will honor Jill Rappaport. My work for this event also began months and months ago. In mid August, I hope to relax a little -- but then it’s time to gear up and start to plan for New York and all of its charities. •