Featured // New York City
Spotlight NEW YORK CITY Philanthropy in the Big Apple
By: Lifestyle Expert Doni T. Luckutt

Lifestyle expert Doni Luckutt regularly appears nationally on top-rated morning radio shows, television & in national magazines & newspapers. Her unique cultural perspectives, products & expert advice have been featured by O, The Oprah Magazine; The Today Show’s Robyn Spizman; Jet Magazine; Woman’s World Magazine; Pink Magazine; Woman’s Day and more. Melding a BA in Journalism with an internationally-focused MBA & global life experience, she delves into cultural norms and creates methods to help individuals live more purposeful, connected lives. Connect with her on Twitter: @SimplyAlive, blog SimplyAliveWorld.com/blog, or email doni@celebritysociety.com

Entertainment Industry Insider Lucia Kaiser Takes Back NYC


Talking to entertainment legend Lucia Kaiser is like getting whipped up in the energy of a snowstorm, tornado and tsunami all at once – without the danger of course.  After spending just a few minutes with this powerhouse, her meteoric rise from gopher at the Johnny Carson Show to the show’s first woman executive producer is quite understandable. Her influence, however, is immeasurable.


Credentials like Kaiser’s don’t come easily and stories like hers are a rarity in today’s world.  Moving quickly from that “gopher” position at age 18, Kaiser soon was promoted to Carson’s talent coordinator and publicist for four years at The Tonight Show when it was filmed in New York City.   She went on to make many other “first” achievements in her career:  First woman in management for Johnny Carson, first (and only) woman to run martial arts legend Bruce Lee’s production company in Hong Kong, co-founder of the first all-woman advertising agency in New York City and the first woman General Manger at Hawaii’s KGU Radio.


Those achievements are highlights in Kaiser’s unbelievable career.  Her personal life is equally awe-inspiring, reading like a Cinderella story where the heroine hails from The Bronx and creates her own happily-ever-after even before being swept up by a knight from the Wilhelm Kaiser Family of Germany. 


Though Kaiser’s fairy tale includes living in royal palaces, hob-knobbing with the world’s most noble families, and extended stays in far-away places in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, Africa and the South Pacific, she eventually returned to and has spent the last fourteen years in the city of her birth.   “I think that if I had to live anywhere other than New York, it would be tough because I’m so in love with New York,” she chuckled.



It figures, as the city provides a perfect backdrop for Kaiser’s current chapter in her entertainment-industry saga.  With client- and friend- lists reading like a who’s who of socialites, business moguls and celebrities, she’s put her business and entertainment acumen into creating financing for film, television projects and Broadway plays.  “I will be producing a major feature film this year starring three A-list Actors once the funding is finalized,” said Kaiser, who also is working to finalize a Broadway play with a cast of A-list actors.


Though she speaks of her well-known parties, thrown from a spacious Upper West Side apartment (in the Beaumont, a landmark building on Riverside Drive), and business dealings with entertainment industry titans, it’s obvious that Kaiser’s main love is giving back.  Kaiser's philanthropic interests began well before her days in Hawaii, but she’s most proud of the “You Can Make a Difference” radio show she co-created and hosted while living in the state.  Broadcast to more than 70 stations across the U.S., the two-hour program made the difference to people in need, often before the sign-off at the end of each show. “During one show, a guy called in with a serious eye problem—it was a two hour show, by the end, two surgeons called--he was cured with no money,” she remembered.  In another, “A woman with seven kids and beaten by her husband had nowhere to live.  A wealthy couple in the city had a house on their property with 9 or 10 bedrooms and offered the house to the woman.” She also produced an award-winning half hour documentary about 31 homeless families in Hawaii, garnering commendations by the sitting Hawaiian Governor, State Legislature and Honolulu Mayor and City Council. “Politically, we raised so much awareness,” she said, clearly proud of the project’s far-reaching impact.

Over the years, Kaiser has continued philanthropic efforts, including serving as keynote speaker at the United Nations Youth Assembly last fall.  The Assembly is formally associated with the UN and focused on showing youth how one person can make a difference as an educated and active citizen. Kaiser headlined renowned speakers addressing more than fifteen hundred young leaders from around the world, inspiring youth to make a difference beginning with their local communities. She also supports New York based charities including those of friends socialite Denise Rich and singer Bette Midler (see sidebars).


Shining as a beacon of light in her community, her industry and with her friends, Kaiser is a native New Yorker whose influence spans the globe, but makes sure to bring it back home to the city she loves.



Denise Rich’s Devotion a Matter of Life


Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research is a not-for-profit organization created in 1996 by Denise Rich and her daughters in memory of her daughter, Gabrielle Rich Aouad, who passed away at age 27 after a long struggle with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). It was Gabrielle’s wish to create a foundation that would spare others the suffering she endured.


The Foundation’s mission is to fund basic and clinical medical research with focus on prevention, treatment and quality of life issues for leukemia, lymphoma and related cancers. Since its creation, the Foundation has awarded more than $13 million to medical research, making it one of the largest non-governmental sources of grant support to blood cancer researchers in the United States.


The Foundation’s signature fundraiser, the Angel Ball, was held last October at Cipriani Wall Street. The black-tie benefit honored four outstanding individuals for commitment and dedication to the fight against cancer: Lead guitarist of U2, The Edge, and wife, director, choreographer and dancer Morleigh Steinberg; COTY, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bernd Beetz; and Sean Parker, Managing Partner of the Founder’s Fund and creator of online music sharing site Napster and Facebook Causes.


Hosted by Entertainment Tonight correspondent, Samantha Harris, the gala featured special performances by R&B legend, Patti LaBelle, Ne-Yo, Sam Moore, and 23

year-old Bajan singer-songwriter Shontelle. Ethan Zohn, “Survivor Africa” winner and an Angel Ambassador for the Foundation, also spoke about his experience from a cancer survivor’s perspective.


For more information about the Angel Ball and Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, visit www.gabriellesangels.org.

Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project “Greens” The City

The New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to reclaiming and restoring New York City parks, community gardens and open space. In partnership with the City of New York, NYRP is also leading MillionTreesNYC – an initiative to plant and care for one million new trees throughout New York City’s five boroughs by 2017.


Since the organization’s founding by Bette Midler in 1995, NYRP has achieved dramatic results by investing in the greening and beautification of underserved communities throughout New York City. NYRP staff, AmeriCorps members, and community and corporate volunteers have planted hundreds of thousands of trees, shrubs and flowers to support the restoration of public parks and community gardens; restored and helped maintain four New York City parks and removed more than 2,000 tons of garbage from the City’s green spaces. In 1999, Midler and NYRP saved 114 community gardens from commercial development and established the New York Garden Trust to ensure NYRP’s precious plots of land remain public gardens in perpetuity.


NYRP also is responsible for transforming an illegal dumping ground along the Harlem River into the five-acre Swindler Cove Park and building the adjacent Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse – the first floating boathouse on the river in more than 100 years. At Swindler Cove Park and in NYRP’s community gardens, New Yorkers are being introduced everyday to the importance of having green space and respecting nature in urban neighborhoods. NYRP’s environmental educational programs and community events currently serve thousands of New York City youth, families and educators.


In partnership with national and community-based organizations, NYRP and its growing membership work everyday to revitalize, support and advocate for New York City’s public parks, community gardens, green space and urban forest.


For more information on NYRP visit www.nyrp.org and MillionTreesNYC, visit www.milliontreesnyc.org or call 212-333-2552.