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Thursday, January 13, 2011

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Patricia Kennedy, Philanthropist Extraordinaire

Patricia Kennedy

This Mover and Shaker interview is sponsored by BB Jewels, one of our favorite jewelers!  Check out this necklace: & BB Jewels is on Shop with Peachy:

For over twenty years Patricia Kennedy has had a deep impact on the future of dance, especially in the ballet world as a great supporter. An astute businesswoman with a finely developed artistic sense, she has combined her unique skills to truly make a difference on the culture of our society. Thanks to her dedication, philanthropy and fundraising brilliance, she shepherded the rescue of one of our country’s finest dance companies in 1993, when she partnered with Prince and Joffrey Ballet co-founder Gerald Arpino to produce the first full evening Rock Ballet “Billboards”, earning her the accolade, The First Lady of the Joffrey Ballet. For the last decade, she has worked tirelessly with Career Transitions for Dancers (CTFD) a not-for-profit organization that works one-on-one with dancers and helps identify their unique talents in preparation for developing post-dance careers.

Patricia Kennedy is a woman on a mission. Her direct approach and unique ability to solve problems and bring people together is legendary. Her leadership and innovative solutions have raised the profile of the organizations fortunate to have experienced her sure-handed guidance.

Patricia Kennedy's relationship with CTFD gave her a unique perspective into the issues that affect those who have suffered career-ending injuries. The excellent work of CTFD served as both a model and a motivation. Patricia Kennedy witnessed the incredible success of a caring and effective, hands-on approach to helping those whose future prospects and career path were forever altered by traumatic injury. The success stories of CTFD inspired Patricia Kennedy to establish Step Up 4 Vets as a non-profit organization committed to assisting our returning veterans in the transition from active military service to civilian life.

Patricia Kennedy's efforts on behalf of our returning veterans focus on ameliorating the many problems they face upon returning home from battle. She believes it is a national tragedy that many of these true American heroes must contend with issues such as a homelessness, addiction, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and, that rather than honoring their sacrifice, we as a nation have either marginalized or forgotten those who have sacrificed so much for us. Patricia Kennedy wants to make a difference and she hopes that with your help Step Up 4 Vets will be instrumental in giving our veterans the lives they deserve.  We are so pleased to present Patricia Kennedy as our latest Mover and Shaker.

Peachy Deegan interviewed Patricia Kennedy for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What are your first dancing memories?
Patricia Kennedy: Claire Foster Dance Studio- after school rushing up the stairs to her dance class with my tap shoes and ballet slippers in a hat box style shoe bag.

What kinds of dance have you enjoyed doing the most and have they varied during different times of your life?
As a young dance student it was tap, jazz and ballet, but as I grew up I enjoyed a little more body contact.

What motivates you in your significant charitable work?
I think the very word “significant.”  I want to make a real difference in the recovery of our injured veterans and every day I am humbled by the enormous need so I am constantly motivated to try harder.

Tell us about Step up 4 Vets and what most people don't realize about it, and what they should realize about it.
Step Up 4 Vets was born out of my commitment to dancers, especially the Joffrey Ballet and later Career Transition for Dancers.  When I decided after twenty years of supporting dance and dancers that I wanted to do something for my country I decided to connect the two passions so I took a term from the dance world “step up” which means to partner someone.  I believe that the theatre experience elevates and heals us and I want to make this experience available to as many recovering veterans as possible.
What inspires your patriotism and have you always been so patriotic?
I was raised in a family with a strong sense of patriotism and I always knew at some point I would find my niche to give back to my country.  Also, when you are raised with the family name Kennedy, much is expected.  We are not related to the political family but we certainly share the responsibility to do something for your country.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
Well I think this begins with your early development.  My mother was an amazing woman who raised her children to excel.  She provided us a great education and the creative support to follow our dreams.  For us excellence was a starting point not a benchmark.  Later in life I was greatly influenced by Lee Strasberg as an young actor in his master class, and one of my great mentors was the late philanthropists Lloyd Rigler, founder of the Classic Arts Showcase.

What are you proudest of and why?
I have been truly blessed share a very close artistic and personal friendship with the late Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, founders of the Joffrey Ballet.  At an extremely difficult period in the Joffrey’s history I was in a position to bring the music of Prince to the attention of Jerry Arpino and co-produce the production of Billboards, the first full evening rock ballet to the songs of a major rock icon.  This was an artistic first and a financial turning point for the Joffrey, as well as the vehicle that paved the way for their future as the Chicago Joffrey Ballet.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I want to produce and host a reality television show about our returning veterans,….the real Americans Idols.  This would be a great show for OWN!  Oprah…. are you listening!

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
The greatest honor is the feeling that I might have in some small way helped…whether it was securing a future for the Joffrey Ballet, raising vital funds to help transition injured dancers, or helping a recovering veteran heal and believe in their future.  I deeply appreciate the recognition of the Joffrey Ballet and it’s late co- founder Gerald Arpino presenting me with the Decade of Leadership Award in 1992, and twice with the Arpino Angel Award in 1996 and 2007.  The Los Angeles Headquarters Association presented me with the Cultural Award in 2004.  Career Transition for Dancers’ presented me with their Outstanding Contributions to the World of Dance Award in 2004.  The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George invested me with the title of Dame of Merit with Star in 2008.
What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
In the company of friends enjoying an experience that can only happen in the synergy of the Big Apple nka (now known as) The Big Peach- Theatre, Broadway, great restaurants and the birth of unlimited ideas.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Buccellati – The jewelry and silver are so fabulous it’s like visiting the great museums of the world and holding an artisans work from 400 years ago.

What is your favorite drink?
I’m a champagne girl but on my next trip to New York I definitely plan to go with friends to Swifty’s for a Peachy Deegan- it might just open a whole new world to me.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Manhattan is filled with great restaurants that I love to go with friends but I have so many LOL (laugh out loud- lots of love) memories at Le Cirque and 21 Club these have to rate as my all time favorites- and PJ Clarke’s too!  But I am looking forward to adding Swifty’s to my all time favorites.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
I have several favorite books and many great writers have written about New York as fact and fiction, but for me one of the most important books is the story of our day to remember, ONE NATION,  America Remembers September 11, 2001.   In the words of those who were there and those who lost loved ones this book reflects our strength and dignity at a time of great loss and grieving.   

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
A free Children’s experimental theatre where all kids could meet and put on plays and dance theatre under the tutelage of the great artists of our time.  It would have a costume shop filled with traditional dress from around the world so children could understand other cultures from the inside out.
What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Walking in five inch heals crisscrossing Manhattan with my mentor and dear friend, jeweler Nicholas Varney.  Nicholas was my mentor when I designed the Peace One Earth medallion and he wanted me to see the process from beginning to end. 

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Fly over the Statue of Liberty and for just that moment try to imagine what it was like for my grandmother when she arrived from Austria in 1920.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
The first time I heard Placido Domingo sing at the Met, the first time I saw Rudolf Nureyev dance, the New York Premier of the Joffrey Ballet’s Billboards and the private showing of the late Charles Benenson’s art collection that he bequeath to Yale University.  Most recently, the joy experienced by our veterans at events like the annual Career Transitions for Dancers gala, and at the special brunch I host each year for our recovering veterans and their children overlooking the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  [Covered by Whom You Know:

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I have devoted my time and resources since 1985 to the Joffrey Ballet, CTFD dancers in transition and now our returning injured veterans through my organization Step Up 4 Vets.  I designed the Peace One Earth medallion to honor our veterans from all conflicts and to bring awareness to the need for a world at peace.  I hope my continued work will make difference in the healing of our men and women injured fighting for our freedoms.   
What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
I think New York is the greatest city……period!  There is no place on the earth like New York. 

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
NIGHTLIGHT is like a delicious scoop of New York filled with insider views on the hottest goings-on at night; what is best of this remarkable city in terms of events served up as only Peachy can deliver.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I want to produce and host a reality television show about our troops and veterans.  I want to travel with a film crew to the conflict areas and see firsthand the amazing work our troops have done as well as the tragedies of this war, and bring to the public the up close individual stories of those most affected.  I would also like your readers to know that they can honor our veterans by purchasing and wearing the PEACE ONE EARTH medallion and support the work of Step Up 4 Vets by donations through our websites.  and 

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Just click “Contact Us” on my websites

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