When it comes to giving back, philanthropist, humanitarian and author Jean Shafiroff stands out as a powerful leader—and one to watch closely in the future. Serving on the boards of seven different non-profit organizations and chairing and hosting numerous charity events each year, no one knows the meaning of hard work better than Jean.
Named “the First Lady of Philanthropy” of New York by both Hello and !Hola! magazines, she is one of the most successful and visible volunteer fundraisers and donors on behalf of countless charities throughout Manhattan, Long Island’s East End and now internationally. Dividing her time between homes on the Upper East Side and Southampton, Jean is well known for hosting elegant and memorable A-list galas, luncheons, brunches and lectures for a myriad of diverse causes she believes in, just some of which include helping the underprivileged, universal healthcare, women’s rights and animal welfare. Over the years, she has served as the chair and host of galas for New York Women’s Foundation, Southampton Hospital, NYC Mission Society, American Heart Association, Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, French Heritage Society, Couture Council, JBFCS, American Cancer Society, Ellen Hermanson Foundation, UNCF, Southampton Bath and Tennis Club’s Charitable Foundation and the Viennese Opera Ball. All of this exemplifies her unwavering commitment and dedication to serving community and giving back.
And when it comes to her indomitable spirit and passion, 2019 is no exception. In fact, for the elegantly turned out, two-time Columbia University graduate – who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy from Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and an MBA from Columbia Business School — her year of giving is in full swing. So far, she has hosted and/or chaired events for the Viennese Opera Ball, Southampton Bath and Tennis Charitable Foundation, Tri-County Animal Rescue (Southern Florida) and NYC Mission Society. Later this Spring, she will host two cocktail parties in her private residences: one for Surgeons of Hope and the other for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.
In June, she will serve as co-chair of the New York City Mission Society Gala. Moving into July, she will chair the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Gala and then the Ellen Hermanson Foundation Gala. In addition, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital will honor her and her husband in August at their 61th Annual Summer Party. Also in July, she will officially join the board of the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Foundation, making this her eighth board appointment. When the Fall begins, Jean will continue hosting and chairing events for several different charities including Surgeons of Hope and the
French Heritage Society. Jean has been honored by countless different charities for her philanthropy and dedication. Some of these include the American Heart
Association, American Cancer Society, NYC Mission Society, JBFCS, Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, Youth Counselling League, the Hadassah , the NY Dominicans Women’s Foundation, NYC Film Festival and Surgeons of Hope.
Aiming to inspire others to become more philanthropic by showing them how to take a similar path, Jean has also written a book – Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give – which has been called “the ultimate guidebook on giving.” “We have an obligation to see the need in the world and address that demand,” Jean says.
Besides her impeccable academic credentials and philanthropic prowess, Jean is equally well known as one of the best-dressed hosts– and one of America’s top party givers. She has graced many best-dressed lists for her style and for her extensive ball gown collection. Most recently, in 2018 she was listed as one of 12 the best dressed women of the world by The Daily Fashion Report. In January 2019, she was listed by thesalonniere.com as one of 2019’s top100 American party givers.
When asked about her passion for fashion and style, Jean explains: “Style is an expression of oneself. When I am well dressed, I feel good. Fashion is a highly creative form of art. I am in awe of the incredible vision of so many of our of present-day fashion designers. My involvement on the board of the Couture Council of the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology has expanded my knowledge and love of the world of fashion. To wear and own the creations of some of our great fashion designers is a great privilege. For the past several years, I have also been collecting ball gowns. Most are the creations of American designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, Zang Toi, Carolina Herrera, B. Michael and Victor dE Souza . Many are couture pieces. One day I plan to donate my collection to a museum. I look forward to that day. In the meantime, I am enjoying the experience of wearing them.”
Jean’s two daughters and her husband Martin are also very involved in philanthropy. A few years ago, her youngest daughter co-founded her own charity called Global Strays, which strives to promote and improve animal welfare in countries that don’t have the proper resources to do it on their own. Jean is an active board member of Global Strays which currently funds animal rescue groups in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Columbia.
Recognizing the need to promote philanthropy through multiple platforms, Jean views social media as yet another important vehicle for garnering support of various charities and encouraging others to donate their resources and volunteer their time. Towards that end, she currently has over 120,000 followers on Instagram alone. Besides supporting her favorite causes though social media, another passion of Jean’s is helping to promote up-and-coming designers in her social media posts. Jean’s humanitarian philosophy is apparent in everything she does.
“I believe we are not just put on this earth just to consume and to just provide for ourselves and our immediate families,” she states. “We have an obligation to help those that have less than we do. When we share our resources, we come closer to understanding the true meaning of life.”
To learn more about Jean, her favorite charities, and her philanthropic activities this summer, follow her on Instagram @jeanshafiroff
Hair by Henry de la Paz for Warren Tricomi
Make-up by Kimara Ahnert