Victoria’s Secrets: The future belongs to her

Dr. Claudia Schrader at her office

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” No one personifies that better than the newly appointed president of Kingsborough Community College, the stunningly powerful Dr. Claudia Schrader.

She is in her eighth month at the idyllic 70-acre waterfront campus, located in Manhattan Beach on the tip of Brooklyn.

It felt like going down memory lane as I made my way through my childhood favorite neighborhood, where Lundy’s was a family dining ritual in Sheepshead Bay and, on the other side of the bay, where I had my pre-wedding ceremony at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center. The streets are now filled with mini mansions built out on all the property majestically overlooking the bay.

CUNY Kingsborough CC has a handsome entry gate and city buses drop students on campus. Cars can easily park on the spacious grounds. I felt like I entered another world far from the bustling city as I made my way to the president’s office.

I had been there a number of years ago to meet then-president Farley Herzek and was impressed with his creative approaches to his students’ needs. It worked because the school enjoys the highest graduation rate in CUNY and was named one of the top community colleges in the country. Just last week, the school was among 10 community colleges in the United States — and the only one in New York State — to be named a finalist by the Aspen Institute at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The mantle to run the college has been passed to Dr. Schrader, a remarkably prepared professional who can surely relate to her students who struggle to get through school.

Dr. Schrader began her life in serene St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, then came to America to get her degrees.  

As one of my favorite songs says, “You’ve come a long way baby,” and what a journey she has had to the top of the ivory tower as president of one of the most respected schools in our great city.

Schrader has experienced many firsts as the seventh Kingsborough College president. She is also the first Carribean-American leader in the school’s 56-year history.

I had the pleasure of meeting her just weeks after she was appointed president of the only community college in Brooklyn, and my media company honored at our Caribbean Life Impact awards. I was impressed with her energy, passion, intelligence and joy at her new assignment.

We are fortunate to have her coming to the school with impeccable credentials, including top positions at other community colleges and degrees from Columbia University Teachers College, where she received her Master’s and doctorate degrees after graduating with a double major in African Studies and Journalism.

You can imagine we instantly bonded not only because of my own calling into journalism but also my Master’s degree in Education.

Dr. Schrader also had a profound impact with her teaching at multiple prestigious institutions, and leading an early intervention education program.

Since I’ve devoted much of my life to my daughter Lara and her special needs, I am impressed with her work in the field of special education.

Although Kingsborough has been successful making sure their students graduate and move on to four-year schools, Dr. Schrader’s goal is to increase enrollment and spread the word of the quality education in a unique environment Kingsborough offers.

With her passion and sensitivity for her students and faculty, my bet is on her to succeed. She is a woman who has a dream and the ability to make it become a reality.

Eleanor Roosevelt would certainly approve of Dr. Schrader embodying her belief about believing in your dreams.

The wild party

Deborah Cannon, left, a sponsor and my hostess

I attended a wild party, but not what you’d expect.

It was a fundraiser for the powerfully effective “Volunteers for Wildlife,” a Locust Valley-based organization that runs animal rescues and education programs to save birds in New York City and Long Island region.

I was invited to the party by Deborah Cannon, who helps the group, and I was happy to see Congressman Tom Suozzi and his wife Helene sharing their evening with the group. It was an eye-opening evening learning about their efforts to save wildlife and their environment. I met some beautiful owls and special people! A unique evening indeed!

Jean Thatcher, president of Volunteers for Wildlife, with Congressman Tom Suozzi

A good cause


Friend Joe Valentino of the Titan Auto Group, with dealerships in the New York City region, was honored by the SASS Foundation, a group created to find a cure for cancer and educate patients about the disease.

Joe Valentino and his wife

The SASS Foundation was created by three men who experienced the devastation of cancer on their loved ones personally and professionally. They decided to create the foundation and make a difference.

The gala took place at Gustavinos, an event space with enormously high cantilevered ceilings stunningly set under the Queensboro Bridge.

Friends of Joe and all others attending were inspired by the event’s host, Dr. Francis Arena, one of the SASS Foundation’s founders, whose message “The time is now to beat cancer” stirred everyone in the packed hall.

President and director of research of the SASS Foundation Francis Arena MD with Joe Valentino

His was a message of hope and it was a privilege to meet people making a difference with their money and support of the SASS Foundation’s mission.

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