NEW YORK, May 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, May 1, 2019, The Center for Discovery (The Center) honored Ellen R. Alemany, Chairwoman and CEO of CIT Group, at the 23rd annual Evening of Discovery Gala. The Gala was hosted by Bill Ritter, WABC Eyewitness News Anchor, at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers in New York City, and was attended by prominent members of the business, healthcare and entertainment industries. The Evening of Discovery raised more than two million dollars to support The Center's groundbreaking programs and services. An internationally-recognized research and innovation organization, The Center serves nearly 1,200 children and adults annually who have complex disabilities, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Alemany was honored for her extraordinary generosity and unwavering support of The Center. A world leader in the business community, long-standing leader on the board, and a devoted mother of a resident, Alemany has helped lead the enormous growth at The Center. "My eldest daughter, Ellen, became a resident when she was 14, and that began a journey that would be life-changing for her and for our whole family," Ellen said after thanking The Center for her award. "Since being at The Center, we've seen Ellen grow and thrive in ways that would not have been possible anywhere else. Each day she is engaging in activities to build her skills, confidence and social connections. She works on the farm-to-table program prepping food and taking the stems off greens. She swims twice a week and takes the ENERGym fitness class. These are things that would not be possible for Ellen at home or in any other residential program. For this and so much more I want to thank The Center and their amazing staff. These are tireless, driven and incredibly caring people who treat our family members like their family members, and I'm so grateful to them."
"We are thrilled to recognize Ellen Alemany as our 2019 Evening of Discovery Honoree," said Patrick H. Dollard, President and CEO of The Center. "Ellen is a world leader in the business community and a long-standing leader on our board. She has been an incredible guide to me, and she has also shown me her absolute ability to be vulnerable. And when I see that, I see nothing but courage. Ellen owns her vulnerability. She is one of the strongest people I've ever met."
In 2018, American Banker named Ellen Alemany the third most powerful woman in banking. She is the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of CIT Group, one of the top 50 largest banks in the United States. Prior to joining CIT, Alemany was the Head of RBS Americas, the management structure that oversees The Royal Bank of Scotland's businesses in the Americas, and Chief Executive Officer of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., until she retired in September 2013. Alemany is currently on the boards of Fidelity National Information Services, Operation HOPE, Inc., The Center for Discovery, and Partnership for New York City. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and the Board of Trustees for The Conference Board.
The Gala, which was attended by nearly 1,000 guests, kicked off with a cocktail reception, followed by a formal dinner and live auction. Guests of the event hailed from Fortune 500 companies and the stage and screen, including actors Aidan Quinn ("Elementary"), Lorraine Bracco ("The Sopranos"), Didi Conn ("Grease"), Rebecca Jarvis (ABC News Correspondent) and Dave Price (Weather Anchor at NBC-4 NY). Also in attendance were 11 world-renowned chefs who support The Center and its use of fresh food as a therapeutic tool through the "DaVinci Master Chefs" program, including: Cesare Casella (Italian Cooking School by Cesare Casella; Chief of the Department of Nourishment Arts at TCFD), Gaetano Arnone (Otto), Franklin Becker (Central), Nick Gaube (Quality Italian), Mark Ladner (Pasta Flyer), Jim Lahey (Sullivan Street Bakery), Pino Luongo (Coco Pazzo), Christian Petroni (Fortina), Melissa Rodriguez (Del Posto), Justin Smilie (Upland) and Mark Strausman (Fred's at Barney's). Each year, chefs from the "DaVinci Master Chefs" program come to The Center to teach their recipes to The Center's own residential chefs, and the residents experience the culinary excellence designed by these master chefs.
During the program, Dr. Terry Hamlin, Associate Executive Director at The Center recognized Suzie Nair, R.N., M.A., M.P.H., The Center's newly retired Chief of Health Services, for her incredible passion and dedication to The Center and its residents for over thirty years. "Here's the thing about Suzie," said Dr. Terry Hamlin. "It really doesn't matter who you are, because she tends to anyone who needs her help. And tonight, we want to say thank you, Suzie, and to express our love and gratitude to you for giving so much of your life to all of us – your family at The Center."
The event provided various opportunities to financially support The Center, including silent and online auctions and a live auction conducted by famed auctioneer Guy Bennett. The auction provided unique experiences, including a VIP meet & greet experience at The Late Late Show with James Corden; exclusive access to New York Fashion Week and lunch with Kelly Rutherford; and a table for five at New York City's iconic restaurant Rao's in 2019 and 2020, which drew the largest single donation of $30,000.
A major focus for this fundraising went towards the new Children's Assessment Hospital and Research Institute at The Center for Discovery. The first-of-its-kind assessment hospital will transform the standard of care for complex conditions. Scheduled to open in 2020, the hospital will provide specialized, short-term care for children with complex disabilities, along with support and training for their families, caregivers and school districts. The Children's Assessment Hospital at The Center will also support a new Research Institute for Brain and Body Health. In partnership with researchers and scientists from major universities across the country, The Research Institute will facilitate pioneering studies related to brain and body health, including studies designed to improve and empirically validate a variety of supports for complex conditions. These studies will inform interventions, techniques, and tools for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, complex medical frailties, Alzheimer's and dementia, and more. It will be an integrated research environment where no boundaries exist between science, medicine, and application of clinical practice. Integral to its efforts will be the focus on 21st Century cutting-edge technology, applied informatics, computational software and predictive analytics.
"While I'm incredibly honored to be recognized tonight, my main focus is on the future," Ellen said at the end of the evening. "I'm going to ask each of us to put our energy into helping to solve these issues around complex disabilities. Maybe it's a gesture of kindness to a friend or colleague that is dealing with these issues. Or, maybe it's helping to support the research and care model The Center is building through the forthcoming Children's Assessment Hospital and Research Institute. This is a model for the future in which both people and communities can thrive… and they're just beginning!"
About The Center for Discovery The Center for Discovery (TCFD) is a leading provider of healthcare and education services for more than 1,200 children and adults with complex conditions, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders, located 90 miles northwest of New York City. Named a Center of Excellence in 2016, TCFD has long been a leader in developing new models of care for individuals with complex conditions. Located on 1,500 acres of land in Sullivan County, TCFD houses school campuses, residences, medical and research facilities, organic and biodynamic farmland, and leased private businesses offering meaningful employment opportunities. Deeply focused on an individual's personal potential and possibilities, rather than a disability, TCFD strives to create better care and unique and challenging opportunities for the most vulnerable populations. For more information about TCFD, please visit https://thecenterfordiscovery.org/.
Michael Rosen Executive VP of Marketing and Strategic Communications (917) 232-5556 [email protected]