Susan Fales-Hill




American Ballet Theater 
Our national ballet company: I’m biased but it’s a fact, simply the greatest ballet company in the world, featuring the most beautiful dancers, performing the most exquisite full length pieces.
In 2007, the company launched a diversity initiative to rectify the age-old problem of discrimination in classical dance (against African-American dancers in particular. ) Soloist Misty Copeland is already making history dancing roles no other black woman has ever danced, let alone at the Metropolitan Opera House (and what other classical ballerina can boast of starring in a Prince video?) The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet does extensive outreach and offers scholarships. As a result of these efforts, the school now looks like the United Nations. One of its pupils, Cuban, David Alvarez recently won the Tony award for his star turn as “Billy Elliot” on Broadway. When you support ABT, you’re not just maintaining a classical ballet company, you’re investing in human potential, and keeping one of our country’s leading cultural ambassadors vibrant.

Alvin Ailey
The theme continues. Mr. Ailey and my mother danced together in the Broadway musical, “Jamaica” in 1958, the same year he founded this groundbreaking company dedicated to “returning dance to the people.” They’re still going strong fifty-two years later, and have the largest building devoted to dance in the country. It’s a true American success story and a national treasure.

Studio Museum in Harlem
Another gem nestled in the heart of Harlem, right on 125th Street. The Studio refers to the fact that it’s more than a Museum, it’s a living space that offers emerging artists studios for a year of work and development. Da Vinci himself would have approved of these light filled ateliers and of the mentorship the museum provides to help artists reach their heights.

Harvard Center on the Developing Child
People ask “Why give to Harvard?” the answer: “ Because they do things well.” Jack Shonkoff, the pediatrician turned child activist who heads this groundbreaking think tank is quite simply a genius with a heart of gold. He’s taken the message “Children are our future and all the country’s children are our children” and given it a pragmatic spin even the most die hard Benthamite cannot resist: “You’ll save billions later on the millions spent today. “ He uses the latest scientific data to back up his arguments for investing in preventive early intervention. The center’s studies conclusively prove the truth of Frederick Douglas’s prophetic words, “It is easier to raise a healthy child than to repair a broken man.”

The Fales Library at NYU
Self-serving though this may sound, this collection of rare books and manuscripts, begun by my grandfather, DeCoursey Fales is a vital resource for scholars, artists, writers and museums from around the city, the country and the world. When my grandfather donated the collection in 1957, it was the third largest private collection of rare books in the country. It’s not a wonder since he began his “bibliophilic” pursuits as a college student in 1911. A course in the novel (only then beginning to be considered a true art form) ignited his passion and he sought to document the history of the development of the genre in England and America. He had a unique and innovative approach to collecting in that he didn’t just amass all the works of the “masters,” he also collected the works of their lesser contemporaries to give a broad view of the literary scene, and popular tastes at a particular point in time. Highlights of the collection: Dickens own copy of a Christmas Carol (Dickens was my grandfather’s favorite novelist. Some things really are hereditary.) One of two extant copies of the first edition of “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” (Did he know his youngest son would make a “Jeffersonian” choice of bride?), and the newly founded Downtown Collection documenting the cultural ferment in the Village during the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties curated by the brilliant librarian, Marvin Taylor.

SNAP- Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests
Child abuse is at the core of many of our social ills (E.G.: according to a statistic cited in the New York Times, ninety percent of the women on Welfare were abused as children, leading to a cycle of early pregnancy, low self esteem, drug dependency and joblessness.) Other than being violated by a family member, surely the greatest betrayal of innocence is to be raped or molested by a person of the cloth (of any denomination.) Founded twenty-two years ago by Barbara Blaine, a courageous woman who remains a practicing Catholic though she herself was abused by a priest for five years as a teenager, SNAP has helped over nine thousand victims rebuild their shattered lives. The powers that be at the Vatican could learn a thing or two from this soldier of mercy about redemption and forgiveness and living the Gospel of Jesus. Ironically, under current Vatican law, Blaine could never be ordained a priest though more so than many who wear the collar, she is truly doing God’s work.