New York’s First Lady Of Philanthropy Embraces beauty & Style

By Laura Evans

Among the New York City, Southampton, Palm Beach charity circuit Jean Shafiroff is a powerful force. Jean is a highly regarded philanthropist, popular socialite, public figure and advocate who leads by example. Not just with donations, but time, work, compassion, and a forward-thinking philosophy that is inspiring the next generation.

“I believe that thoe who have resources have an obligation to give,” says Jean Shafiroff, the stylish philanthropist, who puts in many a hard day’s work helping the organizations she believes in. “Actions and choices made now will help the future. Even small gifts can add up to big changes. Giving honors life and the power of the human spirit to create change.”


Often called “First Lady of Philanthropy,” Jean is on the board of eight non-profit organizations, including the American Humane, Southampton Hospital Association, NYC Mission Society, New York Women’s Foundation, French Heritage Society, Couture Council of the Museum at FIT, Casita Maria, and Global Strays. She also serves on the Honorary Board of the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. A Catholic she served on the board of the Jewish Board for 28 years and is now an Honorary Trustee. Jean spends most of her time on her philanthropic work. Each year Jean chairs between 8 and 9 charity galas and then hosts many events in her home for different charities.

This November she will be honored by the French Heritage Society at their New York Gala and will also be honored by Operation Warrior Shield. She is also the vice chair of the NY Women’s Foundation Gala. In addition, Shafiroff hosts a show on LTV called Successful Philanthropy, inspired by her popular book Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What We Give. Her show runs several times each week in different markets. It can also be seen on YouTube.

“It’s a great privilege to be in a position to give—we can all be philanthropists,” says Jean Shafiroff. “I make every effort to support many causes as well as other people’s because I think it’s so important to show support in any way you can. “That’s what makes you a team player and a true philanthropist.” 


Jean has been honored many times by the organizations she serves on as well as additional non-profits which include the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Humane, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, New York City Mission Society, Surgeons of Hope, Southampton Animal Shelter, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, HAFOP, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Pet Philanthropy Circle, Animal Zone International, Youth Counselling League, the NYC International Film Festival Foundation, the Jewish Board, and the Hadassah, and the list goes on.

“You want to feel good about the work you’re doing,” says Jean, who is sensitive to recognizing everyone who contributes. “For those who don’t have financial resources, they can get involved by giving time and knowledge. Never underestimate the value of what you can do. Most charities are extremely grateful to their volunteers and to their donors.

Though her efforts run deep, Shafiroff chooses to focus on four main areas—healthcare, women’s rights, underserved populations, and animal welfare (she recently served as National Spokesperson for the American Humane’s “Feed the Hungry” COVID-19 Program, an initiative which successfully raised $1,000,000 to provide food for one million hungry animals at 109 animal shelters across the United States. Poised and passionate, Jean brings energy and purpose to everything she commits to, whether chairing a gala, hosting events at her home (she recently welcomed 150 guests for a fund-raiser for the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital) or encouraging friends to give during her “off hours,” of which there are fewer and fewer. With her husband Martin Shafiroff, Vice Chairman of Stifel and an investment advisor, Jean is a much-in-demand presence on the social circuit, raising millions for those most worthy.


Jean not only focuses on the communities in which she lives, she brings a global perspective to her giving, honed by traveling the world and seeing disparity with her own eyes. From Cambodia to Central America and beyond, the places she has visited have inspired her to expand her philanthropy.

“When you see extreme suffering, you know you have to do something because life is not created equal,” Jean says. “Those of us that have resources have an obligation to give. If people ask and I have the time, I will give it my all because I enjoy it, and it’s rewarding to be a useful and helpful society.”

Jean is admired not just for a check book but for the time and passion she puts into efforts she deems worthwhile. A positive thinker and one who leads through her actions.

Jean works to inspire those around her and beyond. Jean is often interviewed in the media because of her in-depth knowledge of philanthropy and her work in the field. As a TV host and writer, she also seeks to give others a platform to share their knowledge.

I also tried to drink vitamin C in the morning to reboot my system. I believe in that, along with a shot of my Jean has a number of hobbies that she enjoys in her increasingly rare spare time. They include fashion, culture, travel and entertaining. “Before you get involved with a charity it helps to do your research,” Jean says, noting organizations she supports must not spend more than 20 percent on their overhead so that the people in most need get what’s needed (the larger ones should have even lower overhead). She also wants to see their 990 IRS filing, financial statements, and ratings by the three most prominent agencies that monitor non-profits: GuideStar, Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. booster of celery, cucumber, green apple, and banana. I like berries, too, for energy. Then, of course, I drink plenty of water with the added vitamin C during the day. My favorite go-to lunch is a yellowfin tuna fish sandwich with avocado. 

Jean Shafiroff brings her heart and intelligence into all her efforts. She earned a Bachelor’s in Physical Therapy from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, then earned an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University. In between those studies she worked at St. Luke’s Hospital as a physical therapist. After earning her MBA in finance, she worked in both public finance and private partnerships on Wall Street.  

Jean’s passion and empathy dates to her childhood, where 12 years of Catholic school taught her the importance of charity. She experienced the effects that bake sales, fund-raising drives and volunteering had on those in need. It gave her and others fulfilling purpose and meaning to their lives. Jean never gave up her desire to be of help. Though middle class, her father, a schoolteacher, was also a musician and instilled in her an appreciation for the arts, while her mother, an artist, helped with various school and community drives, often baking cookies for church and school events. “I was surrounded by people who were interested in the welfare of others,” Jean says. “Young people learn by example, and philanthropy was part of my upbringing.”

Jean’s daughters are also very involved in giving back. Her eldest is a New York State Registered Social Worker who does a tremendous amount of volunteer work, and her youngest is the co-founder and president of Global Strays, a charity that helps spread welfare and education in developing nations. Jean is very proud of her daughters’ work.

“Philanthropy will continue to grow and flourish by getting younger generations involved in the giving process,” says Shafiroff. Encouraging the next generation to get involved in philanthropy is done by creating junior groups and by mentoring them. Junior divisions of charities are very important; they provide an opportunity for young people to get together and socialize around a cause. We need to show support for their efforts and develop the next generation of philanthropists. Jean says” There is a great joy in being of help and young people are finding this out when they get involved and meet like-minded individuals.

She has certainly provided the blueprint. 

“Life is not equal and there is great disparity between those that have resources and those that do not,” says Shafiroff. “When you give, it’s a feel-good experience and very rewarding. Never underestimate the value of what you can do.”