Karen LeFrak is a creative and philanthropic New Yorker. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Mt. Holyoke College. Karen continued her education earning an MA in Music History from Hunter College. Her thesis “In Search of the New Classics,” which surveyed the commissioning activity of the New York Philharmonic from 1842-1986, won the Dean’s Award in Arts and Humanities. Karen’s education also included courses in archival management and historical editing at New York University. In 2010, in recognition of outstanding achievement, the Hunter College Alumni Association elected her to the Hunter College Hall of Fame.
She is a Director of the New York Philharmonic where she not only chairs its Music Policy and Special Events Committee but also serves on the Executive and Education Committees. In addition, she chaired the Orchestra’s 150th Anniversary Ball, presided over the Volunteer Council and as an Assistant Archivist, responded to research questions about the Orchestra’s history. Mrs. LeFrak also served as an Archival Curator of Philharmonic exhibits. Because of her passion for the arts, she was appointed to the New York State Council on the Arts.
After completing her tenure as President of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy for which she received the Frederick Law Olmstead award, she has continued as an active board member. Mrs. LeFrak is also a member of the Administrative Board of Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, and a former Vice president of the Center’s “Dream Team,” which grants wishes to terminally ill patients.
Mrs. LeFrak was a co-chairman of the American Kennel Club’s DOGNY project, which raised over two million dollars for the benefit of search and rescue dogs across the country. She is an Honorary Board member of the Delta Society, an organization that certifies animals and handlers to perform animal-assisted therapy to medically fragile children and adults. Karen has taken her retired, certified show dogs to Mt. Sinai Hospital and New York University Hospital. With her dogs, she provided therapy to the victims and families of the 9/11. For these efforts, in 2004 she was awarded both the James Hammerstein and the New York Women’s Agenda Star Breakfast Awards.
Karen studies classical piano, a passion since childhood that has renewed her interest in composing. Her five percussion pieces received their world premiere with the New York University Percussion Ensemble and were later performed at the Juilliard School. The NY Philharmonic principal brass in Make Music NY performed her five brass pieces. In May 2008, Cake, her original ballet score on the life of Marie Antoinette and choreographed by Brian Reeder, received its NY premiere with the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. It was then performed by Guild Hall in Easthampton and at the Long Island Mozart Chamber Music Festival that summer. In 2010, her second ballet, Pavlovsk, choreographed by Roger VanFleteren, was premiered by ABT 2 in New York and continues to tour across the country and in Europe. The piano score Gentle Memories for both Youth America Grand Prix and the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg was choreographed by Jiri Bubenicek for Ekaterina Kondaurova and premiered in 2012. Her piano score for the children's ballet Bark! In The Park, choreographed by Chase Brock, premiered in New York by the New York Theatre Ballet in 2013. Her piano duet Tous les Jours, with choreography by American Ballet Theatre’s Marcel Gomes, premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in March, 2013 and at Lincoln Center by Youth America Grand Prix in April, 2013. The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra performed a concert version of the Statue Dance of Pavlovsk under the direction of Maestro Long Yu, also in April 2013.
Her interests include breeding and showing champion Standard Poodles with the expert guidance and mentoring of Wendell Sammet. She is proud of their illustrious show dog Ch. Ale Kai Mikimoto on Fifth who earned two consecutive group wins at Westminster and Best of Breed at the Poodle Club of America. “Miki” retired from competition as America’s number one Standard Poodle with eighty-eight Best in Show titles to his name. To date, Miki has sired close to one hundred champions and Best in Show winners. Visit the Photos page for some of Karen's favorite pictures and the Video page to see a short documentary about Karen and her poodles!
Her third children’s book, Best in Show-- published by Walker Books, a division of Bloomsbury is due February 1, 2011-- follows publication of her books Jake the Philharmonic Dog and Jake the Ballet Dog. Visit the Articles page to read press about the new book and about Karen and her dogs. All of her proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the AKC Canine Health Foundation and to Take the Lead.
Karen is married to Richard LeFrak, president of the LeFrak Organization, one of the world’s largest land development and building firms. They have two sons, Harrison and James and live in Manhattan and Southampton.