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New York Junior League Honors Outstanding Volunteers for Exceptional Community Work at 66th Annual Winter Ball

  (March 07, 2018)
New York Junior League Honors Outstanding Volunteers for Exceptional Community Work at 66th Annual Winter Ball

The New York Junior League (NYJL) honored seven extraordinary volunteers for their service to New York City at its 66th Annual Winter Ball on Saturday, March 3, at the Pierre Hotel.

NYJL President Suzanne E. Manning and 2018 Winter Ball Mistress of Ceremonies, Jean Shafiroff presented the NYJL Outstanding Sustainer Award to Nancy Houghton and Wendy Wade, and the NYJL Outstanding Volunteer Award to Mary Catherine Burdine, Katie Cook, Nicole Ferrin, Elizabeth Fabsits Pavone, and Kim Essency Pillari.

“The New York Junior League was founded in 1901 by Mary Harriman who led a group of women whose mission was to help and advocate for New York City's most vulnerable populations. This year's New York Junior League Outstanding Sustainers and Outstanding Volunteers truly embody the humanitarian spirit of Mary Harriman and through their remarkable community service help keep her legacy alive," said Suzanne E. Manning, President, New York Junior League.

For an NYJL Sustainer, the Outstanding Sustainer award is the highest honor she can receive. Every year, two Sustainers are chosen by a committee of her peers to receive this prestigious honor. Outstanding Sustainers carry on the NYJL mission through continued service both for the NYJL and in the community at large.

Nancy Houghton has spent her life making positive changes in her community. Nancy served on the NYJL's Early Childhood Development committee for over 18 years. She also worked with the Breast Cancer committee, bringing awareness to the disease. She often made presentations explaining the life-saving importance of self-examinations to employee groups in New York City. She also held roles on the Placement and Thanksgiving Eve Ball committees. Today, Nancy is the Executive Director at Health Advocates for Older People where she uses her training and past experiences with the NYJL to provide 700 free programs each year for more than 1,000 participants.

Wendy Wade has had a long and extraordinary tenure with the NYJL. During her time with the organization Wendy chaired the Provisional Training and Personnel committees. She also chaired the Winter Ball and Thanksgiving Eve Ball committees. Wendy was on the Board of Directors as Secretary where she wrote for the New York Junior League newsletter. Serving on the Board offered Wendy a special opportunity to help plan and shape the future of the NYJL. In 1980, Wendy was named an Outstanding Volunteer. Outside of the Junior League, Wendy was the first Vice President of Health Advocates for Older People and currently holds positions on many boards including NYC Parents in Action, Episcopal Charities and the Garrison Forest School.

The Outstanding Volunteer award is the highest honor that an NYJL active volunteer can receive. Since the Winter Ball's beginning in 1952, five active volunteers have been selected each year to receive this prestigious honor. Outstanding Volunteers have achieved the highest standard of excellence in volunteerism in advancing the mission of the NYJL.

Mary Catherine Burdine has utilized her professional and philanthropic skills in event planning and fundraising to develop public awareness and donor relations campaigns for the NYJL. Mary Catherine served on both the Fundraising Events Council and the Development Work Group, ultimately holding the position of Fundraising Events Senior Council Head where she helped identify and set goals that ensure her programs added to the fiscal health and overall wellbeing of the NYJL to advance its mission and programming. Mary Catherine has been instrumental in driving fundraising revenue to new heights that has allowed the NYJL to expand its impact and reach. She has now shifted focus to developing future NYJL leaders by serving on the Provisional Training committee.

Katie Cook served on the Playground Improvement Project as a committee member and vice-chair before becoming the co-chair in 2013. She collaborated with the park's manager to revitalize Tompkins Square Park. Katie also co-chaired the Community Improvement Project committee, where she helped lead the partnership with Union Settlement Association to renovate their multipurpose room making it a sanctuary for youth in East Harlem. As a professional chef, Katie's expertise was perfectly suited for her position as co-chair of the Cooking and Health Education for Families committee (CHEF). Now the Child Health & Welfare Council Head overseeing CHEF, she is still strongly connected to the committee and is actively working to ensure its success.

Nicole Ferrin joined the NYJL in 2007. Since then, Nicole has touched the communities the organization serves in a variety of ways. She was a member and then co-chair of the Performance of a Lifetime committee where she worked with children at Boys & Girls Harbor, introducing them to live performances at community venues. This work led her to serve as Culture & the Arts Council Head where she oversaw the New York Junior League's 25th Playground Improvement Project. Nicole is currently the Community Senior Council Head and serves on the Strategic Planning Work Group, helping to shape the organization's future. Last year she served on the 115th Anniversary Task Force, planning 115 hours of continuous volunteering for Around the Community, Around the Clock. She excelled in coordinating participants including NYJL volunteers and community members to provide 1,500 hours of service.

Elizabeth Fabsits Pavone transferred to the NYJL from the Junior League of Chicago in 2004. Elizabeth joined the Advocates for Public Policy committee where she worked to advocate for policy change related to domestic violence. She also served on the Nominating committee and then co-chaired the Community Improvement Project, when they partnered with the Hartley House for the renovation of their creative learning space for youth. She led over 30 volunteers, who collectively gave 650 hours of service to complete the renovation project. Elizabeth now serves as the City Impact Council Head overseeing large scale projects including the Playground Improvement Project and Community Improvement Project.

Kim Essency Pillari has held many positions throughout the NYJL. She served as a member of the Playground Improvement Project committee, as well as chair and member of the Skylines committee. In 2007, she started to focus on communications, serving as the Communications Vice President and Secretary on the Board of Managers. Kim has also served on the Nominating and Governance committees. In 2011, she was proud to be part of the Communications Task Force that created our “I Volunteer Because…" campaign. To ensure the League's continued success, Kim uses her storytelling expertise to cultivate donors and corporate sponsors while as the co-chair of the Development Work Group. She has also served as the chair of the Audit committee and a member of the Investment Work Group. Today, Kim is serving as a Director-at-Large on the Board of Directors.

Winter Ball was attended by more than 600 guests. Proceeds help support the charitable works of the NYJL. The NYJL has been helping build a brighter tomorrow for children and families in New York City since 1901. Today, the NYJL is more than 2,800 volunteers strong and provides more than 250,000 hours of service to the community each year. The NYJL seeks to strengthen the health and well-being of the children and families of New York through five distinct program areas-Adult Education & Mentoring, Child Health & Welfare, Children's Education, City Impact, and Culture & the Arts.

“We are grateful for the generous support of our Winter Ball guests, donors, and sponsors," said Manning. “It is because of you that the New York Junior League can continue to provide critical community programs to some of New York City's most vulnerable populations."

For more information about the NYJL's community programs, please visit

About the New York Junior League: The New York Junior League (NYJL) is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Since 1901, the NYJL has been a leader in identifying and responding to unmet community needs. Through direct service, collaborations with other community organizations and advocacy, the NYJL provides a positive force for change within the communities it serves.

Each year more than 2,800 trained volunteers donate more than 250,000 hours of their time to better the lives of women and children in New York City. The NYJL works with more than 50 community-based organizations and public agencies to deliver services and assistance directly to women and children in need.

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