Meira Fleisch and Stephanie Marquesano to be Honored at WJCS Gala
The Westchester Jewish Community Services 2024 Gala will be honoring Meira Fleisch, a Boardmember and longtime Early Learning Specialist at WJCS, and Stephanie Marquesano, Founder and President of the Harris Project. The Gala will take place on April 16, at the Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase.
“We are thrilled to honor Meira Fleisch and Stephanie Marquesano, two remarkable individuals who have consistently used their outstanding skills and deep compassion to improve the lives and future of children, youth, and families,” said WJCS CEO Seth Diamond. “Each of these people are models for how people can make a difference in the Westchester community.”
Meira Fleisch has been a dedicated and invaluable WJCS Board member for eight years. Before joining the Board, Fleisch worked as an Early Learning Specialist for WJCS’s ParentChild+ program, helping families develop positive parent/toddler interactions, build language skills, and strengthen the child’s readiness for school. After joining the Board, she continued her work on a volunteer basis, When the program went virtual during the pandemic, Fleisch continued helping families, as well as tutoring a student from Yonkers, a participant of a different WJCS program in a new virtual mentoring program.
Fleisch has served on WJCS’s Executive, Children, Youth and Families, and Gala Committees, was Chair of the Program Services Committee, and currently chairs the Jewish Program Services Committee, She served in various capacities on UJA-Federation of NY’s Westchester Women’s Cabinet for over 15 years, eventually as Vice Chair of the Westchester Women’s division.
“As an adult child of Holocaust survivors, who were refugees in Israel and eventually immigrants to the U.S., I find the work of WJCS particularly meaningful, even more so in the current environment of rising antisemitism,” said Fleisch. “I am in awe of the agency’s work, the compassion of its staff, and commitment of the Board.”
Stephanie Marquesano launched the harris project after her 19-year-old son Harris died by accidental overdose in 2013. Like millions, Harris had co-occurring disorders, the combination of both mental health and substance use challenges. As the nation’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of an integrated system of care from prevention through sustainable recovery, the harris project strives to improve the lives of teens and young adults with, or at risk of developing, co-occurring disorders. Stephanie’s proactive, collaborative, and transformational approach to the overdose and suicide epidemics gripping our nation led the harris project to collaborate with WJCS on several fronts, including co-chairing the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health Co-Occurring System of Care Committee, training staff on co-occurring disorders, and launching new services for teens and young adults in Westchester County. She also leads a multi-agency project, that includes WJCS, bringing Encompass, an integrated evidence-based treatment modality, to local teens and young adults.
CODA, the peer-led Co-Occurring Disorders Awareness prevention movement created by the harris project, has made incredible strides in empowering our youth to take an active role in raising awareness, connecting with peers, and linking to resources. Stephanie’s work and Harris’s story were featured in a New York Times Sunday Review cover piece in 2022, and she was a TED presenter at the 2023 National Council for Mental Wellbeing Conference. Most recently, a public service campaign created for the harris project, entitled “You Don’t Know The Half Of It,” was named the 24th best advertisement in the Ad Age list of “The 40 Best Ads For 2023.” Central to her work is a commitment to saving lives and improving outcomes.
Stephanie serves on numerous local, state, and national committees, notably serving as a member of the New York State Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board. She received her BA in Political Science and Public Communication from Brooklyn College, JD from New York University School of Law, and is a former school board member and PTA president.
To learn more about the WJCS Gala, visit www.wjcs.com.