The Herbert and Audrey Rosenfield Fund
Herbert and Audrey Rosenfield established the Fund in 1999 to consolidate their support for institutions that contribute to the vibrancy of downtown Manhattan and by extension, New York City as a whole.
In the early 1970s, together with neighbors and colleagues, Herb and Audrey established the Chambers-Canal Civic Association with the aim to invigorate their downtown community following the construction of the World Trade Center.
From those efforts, Herb and Audrey and their colleagues learned of the opportunity to bring Borough of Manhattan Community College downtown. Herb, together with his close friend, Ray O’Keefe and others, worked with the then-BMCC president, Dr. Joshua Smith to make this a reality. Following the move in the early 1980s, this group also created a fund to assist BMCC to raise monies for scholarships and other programs, now called the BMCC Foundation.
As part of their commitment to the college, in 1987 and in consultation with then-President Augusta Kappner, Herbert and Audrey established the Abner B Rosenfield Scholarship Fund to support students who exemplify academic excellence and good citizenship. In 1999, they also were an early supporter of President Antonio Perez’s innovative initiative to launch the Out in Two Program. In 2018, working with President Karrin Wilks, the Herbert and Audrey Rosenfield Fund Trustees have built on this effort, and made a major endowment gift to the Out in Two Program.
The Trustees of the Fund, the three children of Herbert and Audrey Rosenfield, are committed to maintain the legacy of support for BMCC for these aims and others to promote and reinforce student accomplishments.
Audrey and Herbert Rosenfield
Audrey and Herbert Rosenfield shared values of dedication to family, community, integrity, and practical excellence, as well as a commitment to New York City. These values informed their actions as they raised their family, supported their community, and implemented their philanthropy.
Both were born in New York City, Herbert in 1918 and Audrey in 1924. Audrey and her family moved to Providence Rhode Island when she was an infant and that is where she grew up, returning to New York as a teenager in the 1940s. Herbert was a lifelong New Yorker. While they cherished their family histories, they were always forward-looking and sought out innovation, whether in education, technology (especially for computers and cameras), or community development.
Herb was educated in New York City and joined the family textile firm, Continental Convertors Corporation, upon graduation from the High School of Commerce in 1936. He won top honors, including the Arista Award for academic excellence and service, an award that had significant influence on his philosophy of future philanthropy. In 1940, Herb enlisted in the Army where he spent the next six years. During that time, in World War II, he saw action in France and Germany as Adjutant to the Commanding Officer of the 541st Field Artillery European Theater. In 1955, after the untimely passing of his father and older brother, he was obligated to take over the reins of the family firm on his own. For over 100 years, the firm’s offices had been located in the New York Textile district, what we now call Tribeca. His personal history and lifelong work experience led to Herb’s commitment to that area of Manhattan.
Audrey attended Lincoln School for Girls in Rhode Island, Scarsdale High School, and Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she graduated as an English and Philosophy major. During World War II. In the summer months she drove an ambulance for the Red Cross. She was a noted graphologist, and in the 1960 served as vice president, Northeast Chapter of the American Graphological Society. She also lectured at NYU and was one of them was one of the first people in the United States to apply graphology to personnel placement
She worked in advertising for Stern Brothers Department Store, and was soon promoted to assistant director. From 1975 on, she managed Coronado Trading Corporation, a cement machinery export company, and had extensive ties to Asia on both the business and personal level.
Herb and Audrey were actively involved in their children’s school, Friends Seminary. Audrey was active on the Parent-Teacher Association and served as class mother, and created the “Attic Treasures” part of the annual School Fair.
Together they were active in their beloved Gramercy Park community, where they lived for over sixty years. In the mid-1960s, Herb organized “Come ‘n Clean,” one of the earliest community environmental clean-up campaigns in New York City. This event continues in a similar form to this day. Audrey, with her creative talents, designed the iconic posters. Herb enlisted the Fire Department to contribute industrial brooms for the participants and to be present with their high-powered hoses. Hundreds turned out each year to promote the day and participate actively.
Audrey was a devoted committee member of the Gramercy Park Flower Show. She was a talented Ikebana flower arranger and won many first prizes, including Best of Show. She worked for years with the New York School for the Deaf, introducing many students to the art of flower arranging. She served for several years on the hospitality committee for the UN, hosting luncheons for the wives of diplomats and taking them on visits to local sites, including the Police Academy down the street.
In the Tribeca area, Herb and Audrey were dedicated to nurturing this community, as well. In the early 1970s, together with colleagues and friends they established the Chambers-Canal Civic Association (CCCA). Herb served as president for most of its existence. Under Herb’s leadership, CCCA promoted, inter alia, changes in the Loft Law to support artists, changes in street patterns to reduce traffic burdens, and stronger community boards. Herb served on Community Board #1 for nearly thirty years.
Both Herbert and Audrey were firmly supportive of local institutions that they saw as anchors for the downtown community. The New York Downtown-Beekman Infirmary (now the New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital) and the Borough of Manhattan Community College were especially singled out. With the hospital, Herb lead the way to strengthening its Community Advisory Board along with outreach to the Chinese and financial communities. With Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), Herb and colleagues led the non-governmental effort to bring the college to downtown Manhattan and establish a fund to support the college called the BMCC Foundation. Herb and Audrey also established the Abner B. Rosenfield Scholarship Fund to recognize the outstanding student who best combined community service and academic excellence. Herb served on the boards of both the hospital and the BMCC Foundation for several decades and was a life trustee at the time of his death.
Herb’s service to the downtown community was recognized through several awards: in 1984, the Distinguished Service Award from BMCC; in 1984,the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Small Business Council Second Annual Small Business Award for Outstanding Contributions to community volunteer activities; in 1995, the United Hospital Fund Distinguished Service Award for his hospital trusteeship; and in 2015,a special citation from the hospital for his years of dedicated work. While Herb received the awards, he always insisted that all of his work was made possible by the partnership with and support from his lifelong partner, Audrey.
The values that shaped their lives were imbued in them by their families. In turn, they influenced the lives of their children and grandchildren with the values of service to family and community. The Herbert and Audrey Rosenfield Fund is dedicated to sustaining their legacy.
Audrey Rosenfield, April 9, 1924 – January 9, 2001
Herbert Rosenfield, August 6, 1918 – July 20, 2016