New York State of Mind gala benefits Valley of the Sun JCC


The Valley of the Sun JCC transformed itself into the streets of New York for its New York State of Mind fundraiser Dec. 2.

More than 500 guests attended and nearly $300,000 was raised to support J scholarships and programs.

“The sold-out New York State of Mind was a smashing success. The event was a great opportunity to honor Kristina Brown and Jen and Steven Schwarz for all they’ve done for The J and for the Schwarz’ decades-plus commitment to the community as a whole,” said Jonathan Hoffer, J board chair.

“The event exceeded expectations on all fronts and allowed us to raise meaningful dollars. Thanks to our sponsors, donors, co-chairs, staff and all who came.”

Jen and Steven Schwarz were presented with The J’s Irv Shuman Award for their commitment, passion, service and leadership within the community.

Jen has been active with The J, spearheading many efforts including the building of the playground, teen lounge and teen sports league. Steven has served in multiple board and leadership positions.

“To be surrounded by over 500 of our community friends was overwhelming and incredibly special. It really felt like we were walking the streets of New York and the entertainment was tremendous, and it was so touching that our girls were included,” said Jen.

In addition, Kristina Brown received the inaugural Maya Schulder Rising Star Award for her commitment, leadership and service to transforming the lives of those who belong to The J, including helping to start the preschool’s Grandparents Club.

“One of the best parts of volunteering to support The J is that the J has become our family’s home away from home. I wish everyone knew about The J and belonged in some way or form because whoever you are, whomever you love, from wherever your heritage comes, you are welcome at The J,” said Kristina.

“This is my why — why I love The J so much and want to serve.”

Guests were treated to street-style eats and entertainment including a subway musician, card shark, break dancers and the very popular Naked Cowboy of Times Square. Live Beatles music graced Strawberry Fields and guests could add graffiti to a special wall or play chess in the “park.”

The highlight of the evening was a Broadway-style show featuring local theatrical talents Michele Kahn, Hector Coris and Rebecca Steiner. In addition, the Schwarz children surprised their parents with a special song and event co-chair Tiffani Bachus got into the act, dancing in the opening number.

The fundraiser was co-chaired by Tiffani and Dan Bachus and Michelle and Bryan Kort.

“The J staff is amazing and co-chairs Michelle and Bryan Kort and Tiffani and Dan Bachus, as well as board chair and friend Jonathan Hoffer and the talented Michele Stubbs-Kahn made magic happen for our community that evening. What a fabulous night for the Valley of the Sun JCC and what an honor to be a part of it all,” said Jen.

The Valley of the Sun JCC is located at 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

Photos by Sandra Tenuto Photography

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