Community Spotlight: A Conversation with Ronnie Jaber

You’ve no doubt noticed Ronnie Jaber circulating at CFK’s events. Whether he’s frantically bidding for a Gossip Girl set visit (“For my friend’s kids!”) or raising a cool $5,000 for CFK in just about 72 hours, he’s the one perpetually surrounded by attractive people who are clearly having the greatest time of their lives. Turns out, though, the man rocking the pink shirt is full of surprises. This life of the party is a big advocate for arts education, occasionally keeps a low profile while traveling the globe, and is even a little reluctant to talk about himself. Here’s what we did manage to wrest out of him.

"I think our lane average of 80-something was a few standard deviations below the national average...but I felt honored that we were blessed with the only pink shirt."

Ronnie grew up in a small town, and thanks to a great public education, had an early appreciation for good teachers.  “I was spoiled with great teaching,” he says. “I remember we did this simulation of the French Revolution – which means so much more when you’re actually playing the roles of the Bourgeoisie vs. the Emperor, and you’re getting guillotined.”

After studying engineering and applied math at Cornell, he entered a career in finance in New York. The international flavor of the city suits him, especially when it comes to very difficult task of choosing a favorite restaurant. “Spice Market…no, no, no, wait…how about La Esquina? Well, what category of restaurant are we talking about here?”

His free time is filled with friends, sports like soccer (“It’s the world sport. You don’t have to have a genetic edge to play.”) and a travel schedule that puts even the most determined jetsetters to shame. “I’m trying to see the world,” he says. We know what you’re thinking: “Come on, the world? Where’s the man traveled in the last twelve months?”

“Ummmm…Paris, Prague, London, Anguilla, Colorado…”

He then launches into an explanation of how to maximize your time at Machu Picchu, the merits of having oxygen pumped into your room at high altitude, and the presence of guinea pig on local Peruvian menus (“I just couldn’t do it.”) The trick, he says, is balancing your touring with a more low-key approach. “I really try to do both,” he says. “I try to experience new places as a tourist. But I also really appreciate being immersed in the culture, getting a real feel for the people and how they live. And I try to fit in to the extent that I can.”

Ronnie’s always been a good friend to CFK, but we were completely blown away last fall when he told us he’d be establishing his own fundraising page for the Bowl for Kids campaign. Twenty-four hours after setting up a page (with a Jackson Pollack as a headshot), he’d raised $1,500. By the end of the week he was nearing five grand. “I just have a lot of really generous friends and co-workers,” he says, as though that were sufficient explanation for the quantum leap in donations we saw that week.

“Sometimes you just have to ask yourself, ‘well, what’s important?’ And when people realize that so close to home in New York there are schools that don’t have tutoring, or music and art programs that could really shape lives in important ways – that makes it an easy sell. This is a really tangible way to effect change and see change and do it at a critical stage in someone’s life.”

So why exactly was he the only one lucky enough to have a pink shirt at this year’s Bowl for Kids?

Isn’t it obvious yet?

Because he’s Ronnie.

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