The Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) honored Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab at its 14th Annual Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on October 16. HEAF president and CEO Ruth Rathblott hailed President Raab for embodying HEAF’s mission to open doors of opportunity for all students. Honored alongside Brian Duperreault, president and CEO of AIG, President Raab was celebrated for her unflagging commitment to recognizing potential in young people and tirelessly working to ensure that it is realized.
Founded in 1989, HEAF provides underserved youth with resources and programs that put them on a path to success in college and life. Today, HEAF serves about 600 students annually, the majority of whom live in Harlem, Washington Heights, and the Bronx, with programs now serving Brooklyn as well. HEAF engages students early—beginning in middle school—and provides ongoing support through college. Its impact is remarkable: 100 percent of HEAF students graduate high school, and 35 percent go on to earn advanced degrees.
“HEAF and Hunter College share a commitment to ensuring that all students get an outstanding education that prepares them to achieve their dreams,” said President Raab. “I’m honored to be recognized by HEAF, but even more grateful for the wonderful students it has sent to Hunter over the years. When HEAF students come to us, we know they will be a perfect fit: bright, motivated and eager to make a difference.”
One such student was Evelyn Perez-Albino ’08, who joined HEAF in the fifth grade. She graduated from The Bronx High School of Science before attending The Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and participating in Hunter’s Pre-Law Program. Presenting President Raab with the HEAF Gala award, Perez-Albino described the pivotal role President Raab played in her life and career: “She took an interest in me when she didn’t have to . . . Jennifer’s support made me believe in myself.” Now an attorney at a top law firm where she serves as counsel for Condé Nast, Perez-Albino completed her first college internship at Cravath, Swaine & Moore—the very firm where President Raab worked during her own days as a litigator.
As Perez spoke of treasuring President Raab’s mentorship, she identified herself as just one of many recipients of such support. “Those who know her know that mine is not a unique story,” Perez-Albino said. “Jennifer has personally championed countless students at Hunter, not only elevating the college to new heights, but setting so many of us on a path we never thought possible.”