Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Frank Taira Donates Painting
to Ackerman Institute

Frank Taira, who began his career as an artist almost 70 years ago, has donated an oil painting, Landscape, to the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Mr. Taira (above), who lives in an assisted living facility on the upper East Side, came to the Institute on December 14 to view his work, which hangs in the Ackerman Institute waiting room.

Frank Taira was born in San Francisco in 1913. He studied art at the California School of Fine Arts from 1935 to 1938 and by the following year, he was showing his work at a juried show at the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Oakland Art Gallery. He was invited to prepare a one-man show at the Museum of Art (now the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) when his promising career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Although Mr. Taira was born in the United States, he, along with thousands of other Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast, was interned in a camp for most of World War II. Mr. Taira was sent to Topaz, Utah from 1942 to 1944.

Upon his release, Mr. Taira moved to New York, where he continued his career as an artist. He studied at Columbia University, the Art Students League and the New School for Social Research. Through the years, his paintings have been exhibited at the Hudson Guild Gallery, the National Arts Club, the National Academy of Design, the Salmagundi Club and at the First International Biennale in 1998 and the Florence (Italy) Biennale Internazionale Bell'Arte Contemporanea in 2001.

Mr. Taira has won several Grand Prizes for jewelry design at the Washington Square Outdoor Exhibition, has had several one-man shows at galleries, and is cited in a number of art books. His work appears in the collection of the Japanese-American National Museum in Los Angeles.

In 1950, Mr. Taira contracted tuberculosis and spent time in a hospital isolation ward where he drew a series of pen-and-ink sketches. This work is scheduled to be featured at a show at the Healthcare Chaplaincy in New York in April 2008.

Mr. Taira has worked in a variety of mediums and in many styles. His work, in many ways, reflects both the experiences of his own long life and those of the world of art in the 20th century. When asked about the artists he most admires, however, he said he especially loved old masters, particularly Rembrandt.

Celebrating Money and Meaning
by Judith Stern Peck

More than 100 friends, family members, colleagues and other guests celebrated the publication of faculty member Judith Stern Peck's new book, Money and Meaning (John Wiley & Sons) at a book-signing party at the Ackerman Institute on December 12. Ms. Peck is pictured above (right)with the Ackerman Institute's newest Board member, Diana Benzaquen.

"This book is a great accomplishment on Judy's part," Lois Braverman, President of the Ackerman Institute, told the guests. "It also represents a major landmark for the Money and Life Project, which Judy initiated at Ackerman eight years ago and continues to direct."

The subtitle of Money and Meaning is New Ways to Have Conversations with Clients about Money, A Guide for Therapists, Coaches, and Other Professionals. Ms. Peck explained that while money issues often play a key role in family life, money is a subject that makes many therapists feel uncomfortable. The purpose of the Money and Life Project, and the book, which grew out of the Project, is to provide therapists and other professionals with the tools they need to encourage clients to think and talk about the ways in which their values are reflected in their financial decisions and the ways in which they make those decisions.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Alumnae/i Lecture - Nancy J. Napier - November 16, 2007

"Somatic Experiencing (SE) is an "amazingly powerful and effective" therapeutic approach, according to Nancy J. Napier, LMFT, the guest speaker at the second Alumnae/i Lecture in the 2007-2008 series. In her talk, entitled "An Introduction to Somatic Experiencing: Including the Body in Psychotherapy," Ms. Napier, pictured above (right) with Brenda Shrobe, President of the Alumnae/i Association, commented that SE can be applied to anyone at any time who has to deal with "too much too soon."

Ms. Napier said that SE was developed by therapist Peter Levine who, in the course of studying animal behavior, questioned why animals return to their natural rhythm after traumatic experinces while human beings often do not. The answer, Ms. Napier explained, is that human beings do not allow their bodies to move through trauma.

SE, Ms. Napier said, is a very compassionate model that recognizes that "our bodies are wired to heal." In fact, she noted, "our bodies have a blueprint for health."

In SE, Ms. Napier said, therapists work with people to "slow things down to the pace of the body. The resource for SE always is time."

Ms. Napier said it also was important to remember that "trauma is in the nervous sytem, not the event." That concept explains why one person is traumatized and another not traumatized by the same event.

When people are traumatized, Ms. Napier said, they are in overload with "mobilized energy with no place to go." They are stuck in the "fight/flight" mode. The other extreme of traumatized behavior is shutdown. Both extremes bring with them an array of symptoms. Ms. Napier said these extremes exist at the top and bottom of a curve, and the goal of SE is to keep people somewhere within the curve, "within their range of resilience."

As part of the presentation, Ms. Napier showed two videos of people being treated with SE. the first video focused on a baby who had experienced a traumatic birth and, as a result, never cried. The second video showed how SE helped a middle-aged man who had spent his childhood in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In both cases, SE achieved a positive result.

The key is to "let the process unfold in an informed way," Ms. Napier said. "The healing is always in the body."

Nancy J. Napier is in private practice in New York City. She is the author of Recreating Your Self; Getting Through the Day; Sacred Practices for Conscious Living; and, co-author of Meditations & Rituals for Conscious Living. Ms. Napier also is a former Board member of the New York Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, past Board and Faculty member of the New York Milton H. Erickson Society for Psychotherapy and Hypnosis, and past president of the New York Society for the Study of Disocciation.

Kempner Lecture - Michael Davidovits - November 13, 2007

Michael Davidovits, PhD, (pictured above with Doris Kempner, left, and Lois Braverman, right) delivered the Seventh Annual Carl Kempner Memorial Lecture in support of the Center for Families and Health on Tuesday, November 13th. The topic of the lecture was "Of Hope and Loss: Immigration, Adolescent Depression and the Family."

The Carl Kempner Award was named in memory of Carl Loeb Kempner, husband of Doris Kempner, who has been an active Ackerman Board member for many years. The Kempners’ commitment to education and social services has been lifelong. With the support of the Armand G. Erpf Fund, the Carl Kempner Prize continues to enhance knowledge in the development of clinical interventions and in the training of therapists who work with families coping with major health issues. Each year the award is given to an Ackerman Institute for the Family student or faculty member engaged in the most innovative research in the area of families and health.

Alumnae/i Lecture - Nancy Boyd-Franklin - October 12, 2007

Dr. Nancy Boyd-Franklin, Professor in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, delivered the first Alumnae/i Lecture of the 2007/2008 season on October 12, 2007. Her topic was "Special Issues in the Treatment of African-American Families."

Using a combination of lecture, clinical case examples and videotapes, Dr. Boyd-Franklin shared insights with the audience about how to work effectively with African-American clients and families. Dr. Boyd-Franklin pointed out that there is great diversity within the African-American community, and offered advice to the participants about how to make use of cultural strengths, including the extended family network, religion and spirituality, and survival skills, in their work. The workshop also addressed the issue of racism, particularly in terms of its impact on family life, child rearing and gender issues. In addition, Dr. Boyd-Franklin spoke about the “invisibility” of African-American men and the fears of many black families for their male children.

Nancy Boyd-Franklin is an internationally recognized lecturer and the author of five books and numerous articles on ethnicity and family therapy, the treatment of African-American families, extended family issues, spirituality and religion, home-based family therapy, group therapy for black women, HIV and AIDS, parent and family support groups, community empowerment and the multisystems model. Currently she is the co-director, with Dr. Brenna Bry, of the Rutgers/Somerset Counseling Program, a school and community-based program that trains doctoral students to provide individual therapy, home-based family therapy, and school-based violence prevention groups for at-risk adolescents.

Tribute to Families Gala - October 24, 2007

The Tribute to Families Gala, held on Wednesday, October 24 at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, raised more than $700,000 in support for the Ackerman Institute for the Family. More than 300 guests attended the event, which honored Arthur Maslow and Alan Quasha. Jane and William Donaldson served as Honorary Chairs; Nina and Pieter Taselaar and Gregory and Dana Rogers were the Co-Chairs and Cheryl and Philip Milstein were the Vice Chairs.

The funds raised by the Gala are unrestricted support for the Ackerman Institute. Unrestricted support is vitally important because it covers operating expenses for the Institute and also can be applied to any specific area in need.

“The Ackerman Institute is very privileged to have so many generous and caring friends,” Lois Braverman, President and CEO, told the guests at the Gala. “The work we do at Ackerman is vitally important and we absolutely could not do it without you.”

The evening began with cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards ceremony. One early highlight was the first screening of a new video about the Ackerman Institute, It All Starts Here, created for the occasion. It All Starts Here is the new slogan of the Ackerman Institute. The video includes comments about Ackerman’s programs and services by members of the Board of Directors, faculty and students.

Jane Donaldson, Chair of the Ackerman Board of Directors, presented the awards to Arthur Maslow and Alan Quasha. Mr. Maslow, who graduated from the Ackerman Institute’s training program in 1975, later served as Chair of the Board of Directors, and currently is a Trustee Emeritus, received the Ackerman Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Quasha, President of Quadrant Management, Inc. and current member of the Ackerman Board of Directors, received the Ackerman Corporate Partner Award.

Speaking about Mr. Maslow, Ms. Donaldson recalled his role in initiating the Family School Collaboration with Howard Weiss and his vision and generosity in the creation of the Diversity and Social Work Program.

“Arthur didn’t do these things because they were fashionable or for his own aggrandizement,” she said. “He did them because he is a true humanist with a deep and abiding belief in the power of people and the value of families.”

In tribute to Mr. Maslow’s more than 30 year association with the Ackerman Institute, Ms. Donaldson said she was “thrilled to announce that your contributions and achievements will be honored for years to come because in the future, the Distinguished Service Award will be known as the Arthur Maslow Service Award.”

Ms. Donaldson also praised Mr. Quasha for his involvement with the Ackerman Institute.

“Alan has given of himself very generously,” she commented, “and he brings an important and interesting perspective to the work of the Ackerman Institute.”

Ms. Donaldson noted that Mr. Quasha’s perspective on the importanceof balancing work and family, the topic of the Gala’s panel discussion, came from his own experience as a very successful business leader, a participant on many non-profit Boards, and a husband and father of four children.

Both award recipients received enlarged, framed family photographs selected by their families.

After dinner, Mr. Quasha joined William Donaldson, Honorary Chair of the Gala and former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Marjorie Magner, founding member and managing partner of Brysam Global Partners, for the panel discussion on The Demands of Work & Family: A Balancing Act. The discussion, which was projected onto two large screens, was moderated by television host Charlie Rose.

The conversation was lively as Mr. Rose, who confessed that ”I know nothing” since he is not married and has no children, asked the participants to define such terms as “quality time” and explain how they maintained balance in their own lives. Ms. Magner’s comments seemed to resonate most strongly with the women in the audience when she explained that as the working mother of a young child, she had always felt guilty whether at home or at work.

In addition to Board members, faculty, and friends, a group of ten Israeli therapists, who are visiting Ackerman for two weeks of seminars and workshops, also attended the Gala. The Israeli group, from the Shinui Institute, represent the Ackerman Institute’s newest international partnership. The group’s visit and attendance at the Gala were made possible by the generous support of Board member Alice Netter.

Sweet Appreciation IV - Rusty Magee Clinic Benefit - October 13, 2007

Soprano Frances Ginsberg was the featured performer at Sweet Appreciation IV, a benefit held on October 14 in support of the Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health. Ms. Ginsberg, who is based in Milan, Italy, and performs all across Europe, was accompanied by Maestro Marco Munari of La Scala, Maestro Joshua Greene of the Metropolitan Opera and pianist Allison Leyton-Brown in an eclectic program that included music by Verdi, Puccini, Ravel, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Rusty Magee.

Frances Ginsberg’s emotionally generous and sensitive singing has touched the hearts of audiences worldwide since her New York City Opera debut in 1986, when Beverly Sills named her Debut Artist of the Year. The concert marked the first time ever that Maestros Munari and Greene have appeared on stage together, and also was Maestro Munari’s American debut.

The benefit was held at Holy Apostles Church on Ninth Avenue and 28th Street, with an after show party with Mary Testa, Nancy Giles, Magee Hickey and the friends of Rusty Magee at Porters Restaurant on Seventh Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets.

“I am so grateful to Frances Ginsburg, Maestros Munari and Greene and Allison Leyton-Brown for donating their time and talents to the Rusty Magee Clinic,” Evan Imber-Black, director of the Ackerman Institute’s Center for Families and Health, said. “The program was just beautiful and such a fitting tribute to Rusty Magee.”

The Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health was named in October 2006 to honor the memory of Rusty Magee, composer, lyricist, and comedian for film and television. The Clinic, which provides crucial services to couples and families facing chronic or life-shortening medical illness, works to help others mirror the courage, good humor, and generosity of spirit Rusty Magee demonstrated during his long battle with cancer. During the last six months of his life, no matter how ill he felt, Rusty Magee came to the Ackerman Institute for the Family every week with his wife, Alison Frasier, also a performer, to give and receive the gift of relationship. The Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health is a true testament to the belief that while death may end a life, it never ends a relationship.

In addition to offering therapy services, the Rusty Magee Clinic trains allied health professionals. It is the only clinic of its kind in the tri-state area, and is recognized by health care professionals as the place to refer patients and families for needed emotional support, relationship solutions and the recovery of resilience in the face of serious illness and loss.

“One of the things we try to do at the Rusty Magee Clinic is help families continue with their lives,” Lisa Lavelle, Assistant Director of the Center for Families and Health, explained. “When a family member has a serious illness, the family has to cope with it, but it doesn’t have to dominate everything they do. They can still have a more resilient life.