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Published: November 27, 2008 at 10:50 PM GMT
Last Updated: November 27, 2008 at 10:50 PM GMT
On Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our blessings. In the media business we share the blessing of being a part of a community that understands the importance of giving back and contributing to the greater good. Former Warner Bros president of worldwide marketing Sandy Reisenbach has an especially poignant perspective. Seventeen years ago, the John A. Reisenbach Foundation (http://www.reisenbachfoundation.org/) was formed by media, advertising and communications executives in memory of Sandy's son, a beloved TV industry executive who was shot and killed on the streets of lower Manhattan while on a pay phone to a colleague. "I find that media and communications people are the most giving and most wonderful group," Sandy says. "We work together and compete, but when push comes to shove we all come together as a small family. It is incredibly important to give back, especially in times like these," Sandy believes. "When you go home at night you've accomplished something beyond work. When I think of what has been given to the Foundation established in John's name, I feel like I may have lost a son but something very good was created. It will never replace John but those who keep giving to the Foundation keep his memory alive and give to others in ways that would make John very happy and proud."
On December 4, the Foundation will hold its annual networking event and will honor John Wren, Chairman of Omnicom; Katherine Oliver, New York City Commissioner of Film, Television and Theater; and Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN Customer Marketing and Sales. The cocktail event, to be held at 6 PM at the University Club, hosts an industry "who's who" from media companies and agencies, many of whom have actively supported the Foundation since its inception. The awards will be presented by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and retiring Anheuser-Busch executive Tony Ponturo. For more information visit http://www.reisenbachfoundation.org/ and to order tickets call Linda Lese at (212) 935-1840.
The Reisenbach Foundation is dedicated to supporting a better and safer New York City. The Foundation provides scholarships for students at John Jay College, supports child abuse prevention programs, underwrites the "Safe on Staten Island" anti crime program, assists the "Safe Horizons" violence prevention program, works with police on 'Gun Stop' to get guns off the street, provides funds for the new Crime Center, and funds special police vans with high tech equipment to get first hand information to police who are on the scene at crimes. Contributions, says Sandy Reisenbach, "get right down on the street. You can see what your contributions accomplish and how it directly affects New Yorkers."
Robert Lilley, who was among the founders of the Foundation and has served as chairman for the past 12 years, explains the organization was created following a memorial service for John as his friends and colleagues gathered and "discussed the pattern of unsolved murders in New York. We were all in the communications and advertising industry and we felt we should try to do something about this rather than let it pass. We met for some time trying to determine what to do and how to do it and someone passed along the phrase 'ruthless focus.' Many organizations try to do many things for many people. We decided to have a mission of making New York a safer and better place to live, to help prevent what happened to John from happening to others."
"When the boys decided to create the Foundation," recalls Sandy Reisenbach, "I wondered if it was appropriate. I appreciated the thought. I was concerned that they wouldn't know what to do; they weren't fund raisers. But they were determined they were going to do something about it. I have been incredibly impressed. They have a wonderful organization and have done great things for New York City. The foundation is as relevant today as it ever has been. There are people who are dangerous and people we need to protect to the best of our ability. With an economic disaster on our hands there will be a lot of unemployment and crime is likely to increase. Programs will be squeezed by the government and private donors. Getting support and funding is more important then ever. This is when they need it the most." Although he hesitated to single out individuals since "so many have contributed so much," Sandy offered thanks to Lilley, Jim Rosenfield, Larry Schatz, Arnie Semsky, Alec Gerster, Mike Weiden, George Karalekas, Jim Beloyannis and this year's event chairman Gerry Byrne.
The December 4 event is a celebration and reaffirmation in John Reisenbach's memory when people in the media and advertising industry come together to do good for the city and to remember John and renew the commitment of the media industry to New York. Although the economy causes us all to scale back our contributions, media companies need to give thanks for our blessings and support those causes that differentiate and define us as a community. Everyone in the industry is welcome to join us on December 4 in the spirit and memory of John A. Reisenbach, the All-American Television executive, friend and colleague who lives on through your support. Visit http://www.reisenbachfoundation.org/, call Linda Lese at (212) 935-1840 and give thanks this Thanksgiving Day for being part of a community that cares and remembers.
Jack Myers serves on the Board of the John A. Reisenbach Foundation.
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