The 47th Real Estate and Construction Industries Dinner Dance was held at the Hyatt hotel on Saturday December 10, 2016 with cocktails beginning at 6:30 PM. The night which was referred to as “A Winter’s Evening” certainly was-with temperatures reaching into the low 20’s. The event raised funds for the world-class research and compassionate patient care at National Jewish Health, the largest respiratory hospital in the nation.
National Jewish Health is an academic medical research facility located in Denver, Colorado specializing in respiratory, cardiac, immune and allergic disorders. It was originally founded in 1899 as a nonprofit to treat tuberculosis and has currently expanded to include programs unique to this world renowned institution. They operate a school from kindergarten through eighth grade for children who are challenged with chronic illness as well as a smoking cessation and weight management program. Patients come from all over to seek their expertise and receive the highest quality personalized attention and care.
The evening was all about helping others while having fun with the theme being “An Enchanted Evening.” The night was definitely enchanting: starting with the entertainers dressed as princesses and elves accompanied by beautifully lit tables and ornamentation; the fantastic band and singers; the delicious meal of short ribs and lamb chops and the illustrious guest list-all for the price of $750. When I stepped into the Hyatt ballroom it looked like Disneyland with all the beautiful costumes and elaborate colors. The guest list was just as fantastic with honoree Gary Jacob, who is the executive Vice President of Leonard Litwin’s Glenwood Management, one of the largest providers of luxury rental residences in New York City, garnering a group of Real Estate heavy hitters that was unparalleled.
There was a dapper Larry Silverstein, in black-tie, who chaired the dinner. Larry Silverstein, 85, is a real estate giant who could easily be on some island enjoying the fruits of his labor. Yet this man is out nearly every night of the week supporting various Jewish charities whether it be UJA, Children with Special Needs, or various hospitals. This man’s commitment to his wife, his family and the Jewish people is exemplary and admirable. Some other prominent real estate attendees included Joseph Moinian, Robert Knakal, and famous real estate lawyers Jonathan Mechanic and Robert Ivanhoe.
Tiffany Trump who is dating Jon Mechanic’s son, Ross, dazzled in a strapless Dennis Basso gown and her pleasant demeanor was equally refreshing. Trump relative, Nikki Kushner, sister of Jared, was also on hand with her husband Joseph Meyer and the two of them remained low-key and unpretentious despite their movie star looks and significant pedigree. Another preeminent attendee, Stephen Siegel, was one of the chairs of the event and has been involved with the dinner for over 22 years. Siegel, Chairman of Global Brokerage at CBRE, continues to be a dominant force in real estate while participating in numerous charities such as National Jewish Health and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Stephen’s father was a laborer and his mother a crossing guard. He took a job at the age of 17 as a real estate broker at Cushman and Wakefield and the rest is history; Siegel became the Chairman and CEO of Insignia prior to its merger with CBRE in 2003 and managed a group that completed more than $2 billion in real estate investments. His wife, Wendy, has leukemia, and has been a pulmonary patient at National Jewish Health as well as a major supporter helping them to raise $44 million over the past 22 years. Wendy, who spoke at the dinner, started by joking that she and Larry Silverstein were exhausted from participating in SantaCon all day. On a more serious note she recalled how she recently woke up after a five-day coma due to pneumonia, and was saved by National Jewish Health.
Wendy is an amazing woman with an indomitable spirit and continues to tirelessly raise money for the hospital which has also helped her husband Stephen who is a severe asthma sufferer. Michael Salem, CEO of National Jewish Health since January 2006, said the organization was seeking to cure severe asthma in the next couple of years and to develop a vaccine for allergies. Salem came to National Jewish Health after completing his surgical residency training at Boston University Hospital and George Washington University Hospital. He then spent five years as a surgeon and critical care physician at George Washington University Hospital rising to become the Director of Trauma and Critical Care and Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery. Salem also helped launch Florida based health care company, GMP, as well as assisting in its licensing and acquisition.
Salem has been pivotal in pursuing the best technologies and medicine in the hospital’s fight against illness and announced they were focusing on stopping the progression of emphysema and remained the only institution where “lungs and breathing were the center of the universe.” Robert Ivanhoe, one of the chairs of the evening, introduced Gary Jacob, who is a committed community service volunteer, chairman of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District and New York Chair of Israel Bonds-just a few of his extracurricular gigs.
Gary, was presented with the humanitarian award and has been coming to this event for 40 years-thanking the organization for changing the lives of people every day. Gary and his wife Cathy have started the Gary and Cathy Jacob fund for the Research and Care of Autoimmune Diseases to assist patients impacted with autoimmune issues. Gary who was married two weeks ago, had the glow of a newlywed and the band played the song “Unforgettable” as Gary and his new bride took to the dance floor to celebrate-joined by his friends and co-workers.
It was later announced that $2 million had been raised at the dinner along with an additional one-half-a-million contributed by James and Marjorie Kuhn for respiratory health. Moreover, Matthew Lustig, Managing Principal at Lazard Real Estate, was inducted as a newly minted trustee- an honor and responsibility. After some enthusiastic dancing and an opulent dessert table, guests headed home before the clock struck midnight-a magical conclusion to a fairy tale evening.
By: Lieba Nesis