Events
Upcoming
April 25, 2024, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Harlem Tavern
The Schmooze returns to Harlem!

It’s been too long since we’ve been north of Central Park! Join us for our one-night residency of Schmoozing at The Harlem Tavern (https://harlemtavern.com/), which boasts a diverse and eclectic menu, as well as an extensive drink list that features cocktails, beer, wine, and some powerful-looking punches.

The Harlem Tavern is fully handicapped-accessible and located, literally, on top of the 116th St. B/C subway stop.

2153 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (at 116th St.)
Thursday, April 25 from 6-8 p.m.

Hope to see you there! Tag us at @VCNY and #VCNY to share the fun!

If you know a bar or restaurant that would be perfect for a Schmooze, don’t keep it to yourself, let us know! We love going all over this great city of ours and having fun with Vassar alums in new and exciting places.
Past
April 16, 2024, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Nixon Peabody LLP, Tower 46, 55 West 46th Street, New York, NY
Ask any New Yorker and they will tell you that the “rent’s too damned high!” New York City has a significant housing crisis: According to the most recent Housing Vacancy Survey released in early February, only 1.4% of rentals were vacant in 2023—the lowest rate since 1968—and construction lags significantly behind demand.

So what’s being done to address this? A lot! Supportive housing, new construction, preservation, housing for health, public housing, and preparing for climate change are all in the mix. Pick up the conversation where past VCNY events have left off and join us at 6:30 p.m. ET for a conversation with Vassar alum housing experts talking about these strategies from a variety of angles.

Jenna Breines ’96
Jenna Breines ’96 is Director of Real Estate Development at West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. (WSFSSH), a mission-driven, supportive housing provider with a portfolio of 2600+ units in 31 buildings in Manhattan and the Bronx. Before joining WSFSSH in 2021, Jenna spent 15+ years at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) where most recently she was Director of the Senior Affordable Rental Apartments program in the Division of Special Needs Housing.

Seth Bynum ’15 Seth Bynum ’15 works at Genesis Companies in the firm’s real estate development group as a Senior Project Executive where he uses his knowledge and experience in New York City affordable housing finance to project manage and develop affordable housing in both New York City and New Jersey. Prior to joining Genesis, Seth worked as a project manager in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Preservation (Year 15) Program at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. While there, he worked with developers of all shapes and sizes to refinance and rehabilitate Year 15 properties with various financings, such as city subsidy, private debt, tax credit equity, and bonds. Over the course of Seth’s time at HPD, he directly helped to preserve close to 1,000 units of affordable housing. Seth earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics and minor in Urban Studies from Vassar College.

Leora Jontef ’96 Leora Jontef ’96 is the Assistant Vice President for Housing and Real Estate at NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest safety net health system. She oversees the system’s Housing for Health initiative to connect patients experiencing homelessness to stable housing. In this role, she oversees land assets for the development of affordable and supportive housing; interagency collaboration to assure multi-system users are housed expeditiously; and operationalizing new and creative interim and permanent housing opportunities in the NYC marketplace, such as medical respite and service-enriched permanent housing. Prior to joining NYC Health + Hospitals, she spent over a decade working in affordable housing finance and policy at New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). Leora holds an MPA from CUNY Baruch College Marxe School of Public and International Affairs and a BA from Vassar College. She is also a graduate of Coro Leadership New York.

Simon Kawitzky ’06 Simon Kawitzky ’06 is Vice President for Portfolio Planning at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), where he works closely with residents and the affordable housing community to bring comprehensive repairs and investments to NYCHA developments. Previously, at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Simon led neighborhood planning efforts focused on the construction and preservation of affordable housing in rapidly changing communities. He also led a citywide engagement strategy to inform the creation of the city’s first Fair Housing Plan. Prior to joining the public sector in 2014, Simon worked at Jonathan Rose Companies as an urban planner and project manager overseeing mixed-use, mixed-income redevelopment projects.

Elizabeth Greenstein ’87 Elizabeth Greenstein ’87 is Chief of Staff for the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations (HRO). Created following Hurricane Sandy to lead housing response and recovery in NYC, HRO has since expanded its mission to lead both post-disaster housing recovery and disaster preparedness. Prior to joining HRO, Liz was Director of External Affairs for the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), where she led the development of public-private initiatives. Before going into public service, Liz worked as a consultant to nonprofit organizations with a particular focus on strategy and fundraising. She also served as Director of Development for City Parks Foundation and as Assistant Program Director at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. A native New Yorker, Liz is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, Vassar College (cum laude), and Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. She was also a Coro Leadership New York Fellow.

Introduction by Jeremy Busch ’14, Associate, Nixon Peabody LLP
April 5, 2024, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W 17th St, New York, NY
Join VCNY for an intimate gathering where consciousness in the Himalayan tradition meets cocktails and soulful conversation. We will meet at the Rubin Museum’s Café Serai during the K2 Friday Night series, from 6:00–10:00 p.m. ET on April 5, with DJ Gigi Gray who mixes R&B, soul, funk, reggae, and pop.

There will be a dedicated space in Café Serai for Vassar Alums.

On February 1, the Rubin Museum of Art announced its imminent closure in October 2024, offering a timely incentive for any visitor to visit the world-class permanent collection while the venue is still open in Chelsea. Visitors will have free access to the building, its exhibitions Reimagine Himalayan Art Now and Masterworks: A Journey Through Himalayan Art, as well as the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, and interactive experiences such as The Mandala Lab, amongst many other museum offerings.

Ciclón (Lissette-Tatiana) Olivares ’02 will be present as an informal artist and will give anyone willing to engage in conversation a heartfelt introduction to the significance of the museum’s collection in their healing arts practice.

Attendees may choose to participate in the museum’s free group tour at 7:15 p.m. A private 30-minute group tour at 6:00 p.m. is also available to VCNY for $10 per person.

Space is limited so please RSVP early. When you arrive just state that you are part of the Vassar Club of New York group.

The Rubin Museum is wheelchair accessible.
March 25, 2024, 1:00 pm - 2:45 pm
Gracie Mansion, New York, NY
Join us for an expert guided tour of Gracie Mansion followed by an enchanting sit down in the “People’s House” sipping on some exclusive and robust Grace Mansion tea.

Gracie Mansion built in 1799 is a member of the Historic House Trust, one of the oldest surviving wooden structures in Manhattan, and the official residence of New York City mayors since 1942. The tour is wheelchair accessible.

After the tour, we will enjoy an afternoon tea created by the Mayor’s Chef. It’s vegan, plant based, and dairy free!

Sample Menu (subject to change and curated by the chef for each tour):

Savory Finger Sandwiches/Bites
Scones/Croissants
Gracie Cookies
Fruit/Veggies
Gracie Mansion Tea (Caffeinated)
Water

Ticketing: $80 per person; $65 for age 65+
Space is limited. Please RSVP by March 3.

We need a minimum of 10 to have the tour. The tour is wheelchair accessible and the meal is vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.
March 3, 2024, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
God's Love We Deliver
Sign up to volunteer with the Vassar Club of New York and God’s Love We Deliver, whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition.

Our volunteers will work with staff chefs in the kitchen: tasks may include packaging meals, chopping onions, making meatballs, ladling soup, peeling potatoes, scooping baked goods, or preparing fresh herbs.

Space is limited. Please RSVP by February 21.
February 29, 2024, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Peculier Pub, 145 Bleecker Street, New York, NY
Get out your favorite Leap Day costumes and join us at Peculier Pub in Greenwich Village! This special day comes only once every four years, so celebrate in style and make it a Schmooze to remember.

Honor Matthew Vassar's legacy with Peculier's extensive menu of hundreds of draft and bottled beers, including brews from India, Denmark, Thailand, and Haiti. Happy hour will still be going on for the first hour of our event! Then couple your beverage with rosemary and garlic fries or pork kimchi dumplings.

Note: Peculier Pub has a few steps at the front door and to access the bathroom—assistance available upon request.