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On Board: TC Trustees

Spotlighting the work of TC’s dedicated Trustees
By Joe Levine

Good Counsel

Laura Butzel helps nonprofits hold the line for democracy. Now she brings her talents to TC

Laura Butzel
Laura Butzel
Laura Butzel never attended Teachers College but seems to have been predestined to join TC’s Board. A one-time aide to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Butzel returned to school to become more “creden­tialed” in those issues and instead fell in love with tax-exempt law. (Genes may have been at work as well — Butzel’s father set up New York City’s first environmental law firm, led success­ful fights against the Westway highway development project and construction of a hydro-electric power plant on Storm King Mountain, and helped create Hudson River Park.) Today she is a partner in the Tax-Exempt Organizations Group of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP and a sought- after speaker and writer. Her clients have included the Rocke­feller Brothers Fund (chaired by TC Trustee Valerie Wayne), and the Rauch Foundation (headed by TC Trustee Nancy Rauch Douzinas) as well as many foundations, advocacy organizations, universi­ties and other charita­ble organizations.

“More than ever, nonprofits and foun­dations protect our democracy, personal liberty and health,” she says. “They are on the front lines, from stopping the rollback of environmental laws to blocking orders to expel immigrants.”

Butzel, whose mother returned to school and is now a practicing therapist, considers education the most important tool for change — a view shared by her mentor, TC Trustee Emerita Antonia Grumbach, a former Patterson Belknap managing partner.

“There’s increasing disregard for rigorous analysis and consideration for facts,” Butzel says. “Antonia has made me more aware of TC as a progressive educa­tion organization that is immersed in the community and committed to improving education to build a better world.”


Making Things Happen

Life has brought Helen Jaffe her share of the unexpected. She’s risen to those challenges

Helen Jaffe
Helen Jaffe
You follow the unexpected path,” says new Teachers College Trustee Helen Jaffe. “I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities where I could make an impact.”

“The unexpected” has included losing her mother to breast cancer (Jaffe has served on the board of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation and currently serves on the board of Stamford Hospi­tal) and, with her husband, David, raising four children with severe food allergies. To address the latter issue, which afflicts 15 million Americans, the Jaffes are one of the founding families of the organization now known as FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), the largest private organization of its kind. Beyond her effectiveness as a fundraiser (including launching and leading Connecticut’s FARE Walk), Jaffe has created educational initiatives and chaired the advocacy efforts that led to passage of Connecticut’s Stock Epinephrine Bill. The law — responding to the preventable 2012 death of a kindergarten student in Virginia — requires all schools to stock and deploy EpiPens to help any child experiencing an anaphylactic reaction. Along with her husband, Jaffe has received numerous honors for this work, including FARE’s Vision Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Engagement.

Jaffe has also served on the boards of her children’s independent schools and on college committees. Now she brings that experience and financial know-how from her early career in commodities research and institutional sales to TC’s Board. Here, too, she responded to circumstance — her father-in-law, TC Trustee Emeritus Elliot Jaffe, has been the driving force behind the College’s Peace Corps Fellows — but was also drawn by the breadth and depth of the College’s expertise.

“TC has a huge impact in so many areas,” she says. “Leslie Nelson [Vice-Chair of TC’s Board and Co-Chair of its Campaign] has described it as a place where you can identify ways of improving things and making them happen. There are so many possibilities, and I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity.”

The College can say the same.

Published Thursday, Jun 15, 2017