The Leadership Council

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On Thursday, May 4th, 2017, over 400 members of the Graham community gathered at The American Museum of Natural History for our annual Leadership Council Dinner to mark our 211th anniversary at an extraordinary celebration to benefit our kids and families. We proudly honored Jeffrey Seller, four-time Tony Award winning producer of Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights and the the smash-hit Hamilton.

                               Honoree Jeffrey Seller and Honorary Chair Luis A. Miranda, Jr.

Established in 2006, by the Board of Directors of Graham Windham, the Leadership Council recognizes and celebrates those who, like our visionary founder Elizabeth Hamilton, have made a significant, lasting contribution to our organization.

Our dedicated Chairman of the Board Georgia Wall and her husband Don Gogel and Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda and her husband Luis A. Miranda Jr. served as Honorary Chairs. Gayle King, CBS This Morning Co-Host and Editor at Large at O, the Oprah Magazine was our Special Guest. Our Senior Vice Chairman John Cecil and his wife Celia Felsher, CITI, and Vice Chairman Jennifer Mackesy and her husband Scott served as the Chairs.  Board Members André Koester and her husband Michael; Melissa McKeithen; Heather McVeigh and her husband Brian; Carmen Paolercio and her husband Anthony; Jennifer Russo and her husband Jim all served as co-chairs of this annual event that raised $1.7M to support our mission to provide each child we serve with a safe, permanent, loving family and the opportunity to succeed in school and life.

The celebration dinner began with a special performance showcasing the very talented Danny Basin, a former student at our Graham School Campus, who performed an original song called “Cold Word” – “No matter where you are in life. Never give up. Keep your head in the game … and believe that you will make it.”

                               Danny Basin, performed an original song called “Cold Word”

Georgia Wall inspired guests describing Graham Windham’s “unconditional commitment” to our young people.

Jess Dannhauser, President & CEO said: “Jeffrey, on behalf of the entire Graham Community, we are grateful and proud to honor you tonight.” He went on to say: “You are changing this world with your art and you’re changing our kids’ lives with your heart. Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.” Jess also thanked the Mirandas for “being constant ambassadors for our kids.”

Graham alumnus Zinyusile, who with support from Graham is thriving in school and preparing for a career in culinary arts, gave a moving speech about the difference Graham Windham made in his life and encouraged those in attendance to donate funds to support our vital mission – “because of people like you, people like me are able to have hope …Umuntu, ngumuntu ngabantu which translates to A person is a person because of other people. I am where I am because of who you are! Thank you for your support.”

                                                 Zinyusile Khumbula and Georgia Wall

With deep gratitude, we thank all of the members of the Graham community who joined us on this historic occasion to support our efforts to help children and families thrive.

Click here to view more photos

Click here to watch our special tribute video for Jeffrey Seller featuring original cast members of Hamilton.


About The Leadership Council

In celebration of Graham Windham’s historic Bicentennial Anniversary in 2006, the Board of Directors established The Leadership Council to further Graham Windham’s vital mission of caring for New York City’s most vulnerable children and families. The Leadership Council is comprised of distinguished leaders in the philanthropic and business worlds, who are committed to shaping and securing Graham Windham’s future for its third century of service. In return for their magnificent generosity, members of The Leadership Council receive exclusive annual benefits.