On September 13, 2023, Jackie Weld Drake, longtime chair of Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, opened her Upper East Side residence to celebrate the upcoming Fiesta! Gala at The Plaza Hotel in New York City on October 10th.
Two days of entertainment began with a cocktail party, September 13th, which she hosted with George Corton, Darlyn Portes, and Sissi Fleitas.
The next day was a luncheon for the Fiesta! Gala’s junior committee, affectionately called the Pachanga’s.
Guests included Board Members Martha Bograd, Michéle Gerber Klein, Alberto Mariaca, Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas, and Jean Shafiroff, as well as Estrellita Brodsky, Susan Cheever, Anencia Dixon, Lee Fryd, Susan Gutfreund, Ann Nitze, Marc Rosen, Victor Roquette, Daisy Soros, and Barbara Tober, joined by Casita Maria Executive Director Felix Urrutia and Artistic Director Gail Heidel.
Casita Maria’s 89th anniversary Fiesta! Gala will honor Grammy winning producer Nelson Albareda, Dr. Ramon Tallaj, the founder of SOMOS network, and Ambassador David and Jennifer Fischer.
Casita Maria creates a safe and welcoming community, enriching and uplifting youth and families towards success, through shared cultural, art and educational experiences and programs. Headquartered in the South Bronx, Casita Maria was established in 1934 by Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan as the first charitable organization to serve Latinos in New York City. Operating from a five-room tenement apartment in East Harlem, the Sullivan sisters, public school teachers who were also relatives of TV personality Ed Sullivan, had a primary mission to offer after school enrichment and recreational activities for the children of newly arrived families from Puerto Rico. Today, Casita Maria remains dedicated to its original mission, delivering services to the mostly Latino youth, and families of the Hunts Point community it serves in the Bronx. In 2009, Casita Maria inaugurated a state-of-the-art facility encompassing performance spaces, exhibition gallery, dance, and music studios, and more on its Simpson Street campus. This 90,000 square foot, six-story educational and cultural facility in collaboration with the Department of Education has enabled Casita Maria to expand its scope and capacities as a beacon of excellence.
Photos by: Annie Watt Agency and John Sanderson