Photo Caption: Queens Fresh Air alum Ariel Pierre on stage at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers at The Fresh Air Fund 2022 Fall Benefit  (Photo Credit: Jenna Bascom)

The Fresh Air Fund invited more than 350 guests to celebrate at its Annual Fall Benefit, “The Big Apple Bash,” presented by The Fresh Air Fund Council at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City. Lisa Gitelson, The Fund’s Chief Executive Officer, welcomed friends and supporters to an evening of cocktails, entertainment, dinner and dancing.  Former Fresh Air child Ariel Pierre, who was born in Fresh Meadows and grew up in Bellerose, Queens, shared her Fresh Air experiences. She is an Executive Director in Consumer Banking at JP Morgan Chase & Co.  

Ariel said, “Fresh Air is the thread that connects me to my career, and Fresh Air has made a profound impact on my life. My parents are from Haiti, and they worked very hard to give their children every opportunity including signing me up for Fresh Air camp. My adventures at Camp Mariah and participation in the Career Awareness Program made all the difference in the world.”  

“I was just a 12-year-old kid from Queens in the middle of the woods.  I looked around and thought, ‘where am I?’ At camp, I learned how to swim in a lake, take on the challenges of a 14-mile hike and meet new people.  It was scary, but I felt a part of the Fresh Air family from the  moment I stepped off the bus,” she said.  

“In the Career Awareness Program, job shadowings piqued my interest in learning about career paths and mentors supported my academic achievement. I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia where I majored in finance and played Division One volleyball on a full scholarship.  Fresh Air was a pathway to fulfill my dreams, to shine a light on what my future could be and show me how to get there,” she commented.  

“I was determined to connect the creative side of my interests to my business-minded side. I love math and numbers. I love a blank sheet of paper, and I love bringing these two worlds together.  About 11 years ago, this path brought me to JPMorgan Chase & Co.,” Ariel said.  

“The extraordinary opportunity to work on the design and launch of a new Chase initiative led to the opening of the first Chase Community Center in Harlem. Chase created community banking to support community building in under resourced and marginalized neighborhoods.  This is where we can help Black and Brown people like myself and my family. It was very exciting and rewarding to share the opening by hosting a job shadowing for 30 Career Awareness students,” she said.  

“The young people experienced corporate engagement with one-on-one conversations with Chase senior leaders to open their eyes to new ways of looking at financial institutions and the wide range of careers within banking. My career came full circle on that day, and it was a perfect way for me to give back to my community and The Fresh Air Fund.”  

Ariel expressed her gratitude to the guests. “I want to say thank you to all the Fresh Air friends and supporters for making my dreams come true.  I will always be grateful to The Fund for continuing to bring joy into my life.”

The Benefit Chairs were Isabelle B. Krusen, Courtney Alexis Langer and Tamie Peters Thomas and Richard D. Thomas.  Vice Chairs were Alyson Cambridge, Amanda Starbuck Hanlan, James T. Tang, Mara Upson and Frank A. Zimbaro.  

Gold Underwriters were Blavatnik Family Foundation, Con Edison, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., John and Jeanet Irwin on behalf of Hillside Capital Incorporated, Glenn and Alina Pacchiana and Thalle Industries, Kimberly Steward, Winston & Strawn LLP/Mats & Lydia Carlston.  Underwriters were Carofin, LLC, Chelsea Piers, LizabethAnn Rogovoy Eisen, Wendy Flanagan and Chris O’Malley and Donald L. Hawks III. Special thanks to Michter’s Distillery.    

Since its founding in 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit youth development organization, has provided free life-changing summer experiences in the outdoors to more than 1.8 million children from New York City’s underserved communities. Young people also participate in year-round leadership, career exploration and educational programs.  For more information, please visit