The Imagine Society, Inc. is an organization that mentors youth in social justice, compassion, and service. We provide support and scaffolding for their inspired ideas and plans to better their communities in order to create positive change. Pre-COVID-19/social distancing, The Imagine Society hosted dynamic, interactive social events where the invited guests attended with their individual youth groups from all over New York City to meet up with other youth groups from different cultures and backgrounds. These face to face events were a unique and excellent opportunity to broaden perspectives about the world we live in and to make connections to enhance existing and future service projects.
At our events, the individual groups would mix together and expand their hearts and minds as they made new friends and shared ideas for community service and creating a better society.
Originally our member groups hailed from all over the city from schools, churches, temples, mosques and community centers, composed of young teens from a wide variety of city schools: Exceptional kids who value their world and community and are actively engaged in service. By collaborating with other groups with diverse cultures yet similar goals, we found that preconceived prejudices about people who are “different” melt away through a celebration of goodness and compassion, and our young people become better prepared to be the diplomatic and peaceful leaders of the future.
During the dark days of the pandemic in New York City, we continued our outreach and met up on Zoom, group chats and other digital platforms. Our youth members grew in number and blossomed in their creative service to the common good. While adhering to CDC guidelines for social distancing and mask-wearing, The Imagine Society continued to conduct a number of successful service projects including raising unprecedented funds and in-kind donations totaling over $100,000 that went directly to delivering meals to frontline medical heroes, and to supplementing supplies for food pantries and shelters.
Even now as life remains uncertain, The Imagine Society remains certain that our youth members will continue their work in making this world a better place.
As the world changes in the face of the global pandemic, The Imagine Society has evolved and adapted to a new model of youth led service. We have increased our social media presence, leading to national and international engagement with youth and adult mentors from all over the country and the globe. Forming these new connections has resulted in an abundance of empathy and unity with the human family beyond our greatest expectations. Our dynamic monthly newsletter has become a new symbol of our community gatherings, and we encourage you to sign up for our mailing list to experience the incredible projects and artistic expressions of our young contributors. Please follow us on Instagram @TheImagineSociety to see what is happening right now.
Our past events have hosted youth groups comprised of students from the following schools:
Ideal School of Manhattan • 75 Morton MS 297 • Avenues: The World School • Booker T. Washington Middle School • East Side Community High School • Marymount School of New York • PS 165 Robert E. Simon • PS 199 • Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School • Saint Ignatius Loyola School • PS 145 • Spruce Street School • Stuyvesant High School • High School of American Studies at Lehman College • Regis High School • Bard High School • Trinity School • Bronx Science • Friends Seminary • Dwight School • Democracy Prep High School • MS 54/ Booker T. Washington • West End Secondary School • Hunter College High School • The Chapin School • York Prep • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School
Although our emphasis is on youth-led service, our stellar adult team offers scaffolding and guidance by providing leadership training, facilitating discussion and offering inspiration, support and mentorship to our young members.
Nora Fitzpatrick is a public servant with over 25 years of government experience that includes senior political appointments at the federal, state and local level. She is currently an officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Nora is a former federal political appointee serving as transition team Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Nora also held a state appointment as senior advisor to Lt. Governor of the State of New York. Nora began her time in public service in local government where she served in the Mayor’s Office in the City of Philadelphia and the City of Jersey City. She also held roles in the private sector as a financial analyst at Fortress Investment Group and the Related Companies. Nora is a community organizer and helped launch a youth-led service group. Nora completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics, masters in public administration at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, and coursework for a Ph.D. in Public Policy at New School University. Nora lives with her husband and five children in New York.
Laura Moore Brown is an attorney and an advocate who began her career as a litigator in Washington D.C. and New York City. Laura left private practice early in her career to become a public servant as a Prosecutor of Organized Crime and Corruption at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in New York City. She also spent several years as a television legal commentator for Court TV and MSNBC. Laura recently worked for the Archdiocese of New York as a Strategic Advisor to Cardinal Timothy Dolan to help grow The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture where she worked to create a Board of Directors and held the role of Director of Development. As a three-time cancer survivor and mother of a son with Down Syndrome, Laura expanded her advocacy role over the years to health related and special needs causes as well as to the environment. Laura has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Texas A&M University and a law degree from The University of Houston. Laura lives in New York City with her husband, daughter and son. They also spend time in Litchfield County Connecticut where Laura serves on the board of the Warren Land Trust.
Jeannie Gaffigan is a writer, director, producer and philanthropist. She co-wrote with her husband Jim Gaffigan seven comedy specials. The last 4 of which received Grammy nominations. Jeannie was the head writer and executive producer of critically acclaimed The Jim Gaffigan Show which was loosely based on her and Jim’s life. Jeannie presently lives in New York City with her five children which feels more like 6 children if you include her husband Jim. Jeannie recently released a new book chronicling her recovery from a pear sized brain tumor, When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Faith, Family and Funny People.
Emily Chen Carrera is the Chief of Research at Olshan Realty and manages the Private Wealth Real Estate Services, specializing in working with high net worth individuals. She co-founded the Olshan Luxury Real Estate Report, a weekly real time snapshot of the New York City residential real estate market. This information tool quickly became the industry standard and revolutionized how the market is analyzed and evaluated in real time, enabling better and faster decision making. The report has a global subscriber list and is quoted in numerous publications, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Daily News and online at Dow Jones’ Mansion Global, The Real Deal, Bloomberg, Observer, Curbed New York, Crain’s, Business Insider, Politico and many others. Prior to joining Olshan Realty, Emily was a Vice President in Institutional Sales at Goldman Sachs, and before that, a CPA and Senior Consultant in the Capital Markets Group at PwC. Her financial skills, knowledge of the market and ability to work with those who demand discretion and anonymity are valuable tools in today’s environment.
A former National Big Sister of the Year, Emily serves on the National Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and is National Board Treasurer. She is President of the American Friends of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Emily is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. She serves on the Advisory Board of The Imagine Society, the Women & Science Committee at Rockefeller University and the Creative Council at The Shed. Emily is a former Director and Advisory Council Co-Chair of The Catholic Big Sisters and Big Brothers of New York City (now Bigs & Littles NYC Mentoring).
A graduate of Georgetown University, Emily is a recipient of the John Carroll Award. Named for Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in North America and founder of Georgetown University, this award is conferred upon alumni whose achievements and record of service exemplify the ideals and traditions of Georgetown and its founder. She is Co-Founder and Executive Producer of Stand Up For Georgetown which raised over $1 million at its inaugural event to benefit the Georgetown Scholars Program. Emily previously served on the University’s Board of Regents and the Advisory Board of the McDonough School of Business.
President Biden appointed Chen as a commissioner to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The Commission will advise the President on ways the public, private, and nonprofit sectors can work together to advance equity and opportunity for every Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community.
Danielle Blumstein is an Executive Producer, Line Producer and Production Manager for film and television including such projects as Lady Bird, Don’t Think Twice, Shame and Moonrise Kingdom. Nominated for the DGA award twice for her work on the films Lady Bird and Spotlight. A graduate of Skidmore College, where she served as editor of the Literary Magazine and received the Creative Writing Poetry Award. Danielle is proud to spend her free time dedicated to expanding the jewish footprint of The Imagine Society.
Marina Franklin is a veteran comedian, actor, writer, and host whose long tenure as a stand-up standout at premier comedy venues and festivals around the world – alongside her memorable TV and film appearances, and critically acclaimed podcast – have made her a fan favorite and in-demand creative force. The Chicago native’s onscreen credits include HBO’s “Crashing”; the hit movie, “Trainwreck”; Stephen Colbert’s Late Show; the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore; Conan O’Brien; “Louie” Season V; the Jim Gaffigan Show; Showtime’s “Women Who Kill”; and Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show”. Marina’s writing credits include HBO’s “Divorce.” Marina is a favorite at comedy festivals around the world, including the Melbourne Comedy Festival; Scotland’s Glasgow Comedy Festival; BBC’s World Stand’s Up; Rotterdam’s Comedy Factory; Montreal’s Just For Laughs; Ireland’s Kilkenny Comedy Festival; and Nashville’s Bonnaroo Music Festival. Her podcast, Friends Like Us, features a diverse group of women comedians of color – and their occasional male guests – and their takes on the news of the day.
Marina is a University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Syracuse University graduate. She resides in New York City.
Jim Gaffigan aka “Jeannie Gaffigan’s Husband” is a five-time Grammy-nominated comedian, actor, writer, and producer; a two-time New York Times best-selling author; an Emmy-winning top touring performer, and a multi-platinum-selling recording artist. He is known around the world for his unique brand of humor, which largely revolves around his observations on life. Jim is proud to advocate for The Imagine Society because instilling compassion and responsibility in our youth is the most important accomplishment we can hope for.
Laurence “LJ” Jolicoeur is the founder of Pro Reps basketball. Born and raised in Queens, NY, LJ developed a love and a knack for the game of basketball early on. He spent many of his childhood years honing in on the skills that would later lead to much
success. For high school, he attended and played for Holy Cross, who played in the CHSAA, one of the top high school leagues in the country. After a successful run he attended Manhattan College where he earned a Division I scholarship and would later earn an undergrad degree in Exercise Science. After completing a post grad year from University of Maryland of Baltimore County he played professional basketball overseas in Italy. Laurence Jolicoeur works with kids all over the world. His mission is to inspire people to be great on and off the playing field while utilizing Professional Repetition, the staple of success in any endeavor.
Hitha Herzog (formerly Prabhakar) is the Chief Research Officer of H Squared Research LLC a data driven, research firm for registered investment advisors. She is also a consumer spending columnist at Newsweek and author of the book “Black Market Billions: How Organized Retail Crime Funds Terrorists” published by FT Press. Hitha also uses her expertise in the retail space to advise start-ups in Silicon Valley and with Parsons The New School of Fashion incubator XRC Labs while teaching a class on social commerce. When she is not expanding her business and advising early stage companies, she is raising awareness about the criminal activity linked to the black market and counterfeit products. She created a companion app to the book available in iTunes to help people identify and spot counterfeit merchandise sold on the black market. Forbes magazine recently named her as “one of the most influential South Asian women in the United States.” She has had numerous television appearances as a national retail and consumer spending expert for NBC Nightly News, The Today Show and MSNBC. She was a contributor and co-host on Fox Business’ “Making Money with Charles Payne” and has been a correspondent and contributor at Bloomberg TV and CNBC. Hitha served as the retail reporter for Forbes Media, covering the luxury industry as well as men’s fashion. She has written for Time magazine, MSNBC.com, nymag.com, Today.com, People magazine, People.com, ELLE India, Metro Newspapers, Gotham magazine, Inked magazine and Zink magazine. Hitha has been featured in Vogue India, New York Times, Shape magazine, Glamour magazine, Marie Claire, Oprah magazine, Lucky magazine, Gotham, OK Magazine, Albuquerque Living, The Daily News, Metro, The Daily Mail, Style.com, Forbes.com, Huffington Post and has been a guest on NPR.
She is a graduate of Smith College (including a year stint at the London School of Economics) with a B.A. in Philosophy and Economics and holds an M.A. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
We are overjoyed to welcome our newest board member Katarina Belanich to the team. Katarina is super organized, incredibly skilled and helps us keep the books in order. Proud mother of star Imagine teen, Leonardo, Katrina is the sales administrator for City Cruises and Events, and is a leader in Operations Management, Hospitality, Guest Services, and was formerly a teacher in Bright Horizons at Goldman Sachs. Katarina is an excellent addition to our leadership team and we are grateful for the gift of her dedication to volunteerism and service to The Imagine Society.
Sahar Husain, a resident of New York City for the past 17 years, currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and their two children. She grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and has an MBA with a marketing major. She worked at Nestle Pakistan, where she was the first female employee in the company to be included in core retail sales of the Food Services Department, working with major institutional clients. Sahar is a founding Member of Muslim Volunteers for New York, Inc. (MV4NY) along with 5 other professional women. MV4NY, established in 2015, is a community service based, 501 (c)(3) registered non profit company. It provides a platform for Muslim Americans, along with the community at large, to give back to the city in four key areas: education, alleviation of hunger and poverty, environmental stewardship and health, wellness & community. The supporter/donor base of MV4NY has grown dramatically in the past few years in large measure due to the efforts and passion of Sahar along with her team. The organization has accrued around 500 active members in just the past four years. Sahar believes in inculcating the value of social work in her family and giving back to the city that she calls home! She follows the motto, ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
Sanober Khan works as the Parent Coordinator at PS 6 and co-founded Muslim Volunteers for New York (MV4NY) along with 5 other Muslim mothers in 2015. MV4NY was established as a platform for Muslim Americans along with the community at large to give back to the city in four key areas of focus: education, alleviating hunger, environmental stewardship and health. Thanks to the efforts and passion of Sanober, MV4NY has accrued over 600 active members in just the past four years.
Gina Larucci, founder of Larucci Inc., a line of luxury Italian children’s wear and accessories began her fashion career as a buyer and merchandiser. She continues to consult on design and creative merchandising. Gina is also a certified Nutrition and Wellness Health coach and enjoys advising on healthy lifestyle choices. She has served as a Learning Leader for the Board of Ed of NYC, and as Vice President for the Sarah Anderson School Parent’s Association. Gina is a licensed New York real estate consultant at Douglas Elliman.
As a first generation American, from a long line of Italian chefs, Gina has been passing along her passion for cooking with friends and family for years. Born in Brooklyn raised in Manhattan, Gina graduated from Pace University, and is fluent in Italian. She currently lives in NYC with her husband and two daughters. Gina is thrilled to be on the Imagine Society Advisory board because her lifelong mission has been to help improve the world in an immediate and firsthand way.
Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, is the founding president and Medical Director of the Child Mind Institute. One of the nation’s leading child and adolescent psychiatrists, he is known as an innovator in the field, a strong advocate for child mental health and a master clinician.