Congratulations to the NYJL’s 2018 Outstanding Volunteers!

The Outstanding Volunteer award is the highest honor that a NYJL active volunteer can receive. Since the Winter Ball’s beginning in 1952, five active volunteers have been selected each year to receive this prestigious honor. Outstanding Volunteers have achieved the highest standard of excellence in volunteerism in advancing the mission of the New York Junior League and have demonstrated the NYJL’s ideals of women both trained and eager to improve their communities.

We are excited to celebrate Mary Catherine Burdine, Katie Cook, Nicole Ferrin, Elizabeth Fabsits Pavone and Kim Essency Pillari at Winter Ball on Saturday, March 3 at The Pierre Hotel. Get your ticket to celebrate with us!


Mary Catherine Burdine

Mary Catherine volunteered throughout high school and college at local domestic violence shelters and hunger assistance programs. After college, she moved to New York and continued her commitment of service with the NYJL, where she forged “lifelong friendships based on a common bond of loving New York City.”

Using her professional and philanthropic skills in event planning and fundraising, Mary Catherine makes positive impacts by developing public awareness and donor relations campaigns. Early in her NYJL career, Mary Catherine served as member and co-chair for the Astor House Events committee, where she helped create a consistent calendar and make Astor House events “must-attend opportunities with distinct identities.” She was named a Woman to Watch in 2013. Later, she played a vital role in creating our marquee event, Savor the Spring.

Mary Catherine served on both the Fundraising Events Council and the Development Work Group, ultimately holding the position of Fundraising Events Senior Council Head. She credits her success as Senior Council Head with the support she received from “incredible Council Heads as well as committee chairs who instilled the greatest confidence that they can execute on day-to-day operations.”

Mary Catherine believes her volunteer success is “because of consistent mentorship from NYJL management.” She now has shifted focus to developing future NYJL leaders by serving on the Provisional Training committee. Professionally, Mary Catherine is a Luxury Account Director at Bloomberg Media, Bloomberg LP, where she is also a Best of Bloomberg (BOB) Employee Volunteer at various Bloomberg Philanthropy Projects.


Katie Cook

Katie draws on her volunteer experience with the NYJL to accomplish her daily work, offering wellness training in high-need New York City public schools. She credits her time with the NYJL in allowing her to be more sensitive and understanding of the needs of her students and their families.
Joining the NYJL to become more involved in her community, Katie fulfilled her desire to give back to underserved populations in an effective and organized way. She served on the Playground Improvement Project as a committee member and vice-chair before becoming the co-chair in 2013. She collaborated with the parks manager to revitalize Tompkins Square Park, an East Side landmark. The Playground Improvement Project—her first committee and her longest tenure—will always have a special place in her heart.

Katie also co-chaired Community Improvement Project committee, where she helped lead the partnership with Union Settlement Association to renovate their multipurpose room making it a sanctuary for youth in East Harlem.

As a professional chef, Katie’s expertise was perfectly suited for her position as co-chair of the CHEF committee. Now the Child Health & Welfare Council Head overseeing CHEF, she “still feels connected to the committee” and is actively working to ensure volunteers and clients are getting the most out of their time.


Elizabeth “Liz” Fabsits Pavone

Liz transferred to the NYJL from the Junior League of Chicago in 2004. As a transfer, the NYJL offered her “the opportunity to get plugged into a community of like-minded women and learn about [her] new city.” She soon found a home away from home, where every time she walks through the doors of Astor House, she sees a smiling face of a fellow volunteer and feels inspired to continue to give back to her community.

Quickly settling into her role in the NYJL, Liz joined the Advocates for Public Policy committee (APP) where she learned state legislative processes and worked with Albany to advocate for policy change related to domestic violence. That year, APP was named an NYJL Committee of the Year. Liz continued to build meaningful relationships both in the NYJL and around New York City while serving on the Done in a Day on Demand committee (DIAD-OD). In 2006, Liz moved to Boston, but transferred back in 2011 as co-chair of DIAD-OD.

Liz served on the Nominating committee and in 2015–2016 co-chaired the Community Improvement Project, when they partnered with the Hartley House in Hell’s Kitchen for the renovation of their creative learning space for youth. She led over 30 NYJL volunteers, who collectively gave 650 hours of service to complete the renovation project. That year, the Hartley House honored the NYJL with the Philanthropic Excellence Award. Liz now serves as the City Impact Council Head. Professionally, she is a Senior Manager at KPMG LLP.


Nicole Ferrin

Nicole was raised in a family that values participating in community service projects. A meaningful future with the NYJL seemed inevitable for a younger Nicole. She was a member of the high school organization called Twenty Little Working Girls that promotes volunteerism and empowering young girls to learn leadership skills. Over the years, her work with the NYJL has reminded her of the projects her family did while she was growing up; on a trip to the Galapagos Islands, they spent a day working with a local school to revitalize its playground.

Since joining the NYJL in 2007, Nicole has touched the communities the NYJL serves. She was a member, vice-chair, and co-chair of the Performance of a Lifetime committee where she worked with children at Boys & Girls Harbor, introducing them to live performances at community venues. She bonded with students over many years and “got to know them and watch them grow as people.” This work led her to serve as Culture & the Arts Council Head in 2014. In this position she oversaw the NYJL’s 25th Playground Improvement Project.

Nicole currently holds the position of Community Senior Council Head and serves on the Strategic Planning Work Group, helping to shape the NYJL’s future. Last year she served on the 115th Anniversary Planning Task Force, planning 115 hours of continuous volunteering for Around the Community, Around the Clock. She remains proud that she coordinated participants included NYJL volunteers of all ages, community members, students, and more to provide 1,500 hours of service. Professionally, she extends her work with youth as the Director of Admissions and Administration for Barrow Street Nursery School.


Kim Essency Pillari

Since 1999, Kim has held many distinguished positions throughout the NYJL, serving alongside “like-minded professional women who want to make the city they live in even better for now and in the future.” She served as a member of the Playground Improvement Project committee, as well chair and member of the Skylines committee, developing and writing the NYJL newsletter. In 2007, she started to focus on communications, serving as the Communications VP and Secretary on the Board of Managers. Kim served on the Nominating and Governance committees. In 2011, she was proud to be part of the Communications Task Force that created our campaign, I volunteer because…

Throughout her time at the NYJL, Kim has remained “grateful for all the opportunities she has had and feels a responsibility to create similar opportunities for others.” She believes in collaborating with volunteers to watch ideas blossom into action. To ensure the NYJL’s continued success, Kim uses her storytelling expertise to cultivate donors and corporate sponsors while serving as member, now co-chair, of the Development Work Group. She also held a two-year term as chair of the Audit committee and has been a member of the Investment Work Group. Today Kim is serving her third year of a three-year term as Director-at-Large on the Board of Directors.

Kim “wouldn’t trade [her] experience for anything—volunteering for the NYJL has made [her] a better person personally and professionally.” In turn, the NYJL has recognized Kim’s service; she was named an NYJL “Woman to Watch” in 2005, and under her leadership as Communications VP, Between the Lines received Committee of the Year in 2008. Professionally, Kim has had a stellar career as a communications professional at leading global organizations and currently works as an internal communications executive.


Congratulations to our Outstanding Volunteers! We hope you can join us in celebrating this honor and their dedication to the community at Winter Ball this Saturday. This fundraiser helps NYJL’s volunteers continue to make a difference in New York City and continue the NYJL’s mission.

Strengthening the families of the greater New York area.

The New York Junior League is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

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