BACKGROUND: Kurtz was born and raised in Brooklyn and went to Catholic grammar, high school and college. She graduated from St. Joseph’s College with a degree in education and is currently working at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and also has been a wedding singer for 31 years with a band called The Projekt.
Kurtz now lives in Beechhurst with her family. She has been president of the St. Luke Parent Organization since 2011.
“I went to a meeting one year and they were looking for people who were passionate about getting involved. I raised my hand and that was it, and I’ve been doing it for three years now,” she said.
Kurtz has also been on the carnival committee at the school for four years. In 2009 Kurtz was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She had 18 months of treatment and five surgeries and still maintained her job and volunteerism.
“I didn’t want to give the cancer any energy,” she said. “I would put my wig or hat on and I went to work.”
She started promoting breast cancer awareness at St. Luke with her fundraiser,“Pink on Purpose” in 2011 where she had sponsors come in, raffles set up, and speakers come and talk about the importance of breast cancer awareness. “It was a really beautiful event, and it brought the parish together,” said Kurtz.
GOALS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS: As president Kurtz has opened up a whole new communication method for parents at St. Luke. The parent organization has six meetings a year for parents to come in and voice their opinions and concerns on things like classes, events, safety and health in the school. They are also using email and Facebook.
“We try to do as much as we can to give parents information they wouldn’t get on a regular basis,” said Kurtz.
Kurtz and the parent organization have created new clubs at the school as well as developing new traditions like the Happy Birthday Jesus Breakfast and the Welcome Parents Breakfast, which she says is wildly popular.
“We’ve established these special events to bring together church, family, friends and fun,” said Kurtz. In the future, Kurtz would like to see more parent involvement and more performing arts and sports programs developed at the school.
FAVORITE MEMORY: Her fondest memory would be the first Welcome Parents Breakfast, where about 100 parents came to the event. Parents were able to come together and create two new events — the walkathon, where they raised $25,000, and the princess ball for little girls and their parents.
INSPIRATION: Her inspiration is her daughter. “She loves that I volunteer, and I’m teaching her to try new things and be confident,” said Kurtz. She also said that she was inspired by the Catholic school system, praising the teachers and administration at St. Luke. “Last year 70 percent of the graduating class left with a scholarship to high school; that’s amazing,” said Kurtz.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Her biggest challenge is trying to get more parents involved. She understands that people are busy or fearful of over-committing, and she explains it can be difficult to convince people to take that first step.
- Star of Queens: Laura Schmitt, co-president, Benjamin. N. Cardozo High School PTA
- Star of Queens: Mary Parisen, co-founder, Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES)
- Star of Queens: Kim Cody, president, Greater Whitestone Taxpayer Civic Association