Annual Dinner




Citizens Union's 2017 Awards Dinner Honorees
Thursday, October 26, 2017



Preet Bharara

Former U.S Attorney Southern District of New York
Tonio Burgos

CEO, Tonio Burgos & Associates

Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III
Pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church
Judy Livingston
and Thomas Moore

Senior Partners, Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore
Scott Rechler

CEO and Chairman,
RXR Realty

Citizens Union's 2016 Awards Dinner
Thursday, October 27, 2016 at The Pierre

 Read More about the Honorees 

In 2016, we honored outstanding leaders who enhance the vitality of our city, including:


John A. Catsimatidis

Harlan Levy


The Honorable Richard Ravitch

Verna Eggleston


Lally Weymouth


Special Recognition to:


Peter J. W. Sherwin



Citizens Union's 2015 Awards Dinner
Tuesday, October 22, 2015 at the Pierre

Mylan L. Denerstein Adam Flatto
Haeda B. Mihaltses Stephen P. Younger
All of us at Citizens Union look forward to seeing you!
Highlights from Citizens Union's 2014 Awards Dinner
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at the Pierre

Honoring Michael Cardozo, Michele Hirshman, Dr. Herbert Pardes, and Hon. William Thompson, Jr.


Attendees chatting before the dinner.

Left to right: Robert Abrams, honorees Hon. William Thompson, Jr., Michele Hirshman, Dr. Herbert Pardes, Michael Cardozo, chair of CU Peter Sherwin, and Executive Director, Dick Dadey.

Honoree Michele Hirshman, receiving the Civic Leadership Award. Left to right: Peter Sherwin, Jane Sherbune, and Dick Dadey.


Honoree Hon. William Thompson, Jr. receiving the Government Leadership Award. Left to right: Peter Sherwin, William Thompson, Sr., and Dick Dadey.
Highlights from Citizens Union's 2013 Awards Dinner
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at The Pierre

Honoring Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Faith Gay, Matthew Goldstein, Jay Kriegel and John Sexton 

   “The value of Citizens Union for our civic dialogue is that we lean neither left nor right toward a more perfect democracy.” - Dick Dadey, Executive Director, Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation
   “The greatest danger in the land is that thought is dying in our country. We’re becoming a society of sound bites and slogans. It’s no wonder, then, that we split into two camps. We need Citizens Union.” - John Sexton, President of New York University
   “We are a small organization with outsized impact” - Peter Sherwin, Chair
    “From the very beginning, our administration has been committed to the founding values of Citizens Union: integrity, independence and innovation.” - Mayor Michael Bloomberg
     “What the City University of NY does on a daily basis is to train, without compromise, challenge, without compromise and help launch these young people to help this great nation that we’re privileged to live in.” - Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor Emeritus, CUNY
    “I’m not done yet and Citizens Union certainly is not done yet. If you look at Washington right now, you know that our grand experiment is still an experiment where the outcome is in doubt. So we’ve never needed Citizens Union and organizations like it more.” - Faith Gay, Partner at Quinn Emanuel
    “Citizens Union has been both a beacon and a nudge for my entire life, the epitome of an effective civic watchdog.” - Jay Kriegel, Senior Advisor for Related Companies

Honorees chat before a group photo. Left to right: Honoree John Sexton, presenter Bob Abrams, honoree Faith Gay, honoree Matthew Goldstein, honoree Mayor Michael Bloomberg, guest Mayor David Dinkins, Executive Director Dick Dadey and honoree Jay Kriegel.Photo by Mike Sheehan
Honorees and guests take their seats as the program begins.
Photo by Mike Sheehan
The captivated audience.
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Left to right: Bob Abrams, John Sexton, Matthew Goldstein, Faith Gay, honoree Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor David Dinkins, honoree Jay Kriegel, Chair of CU Peter Sherwin and Executive Director, Dick Dadey.
Photo by Mike Sheehan

Highlights from Citizens Union's 2012 Awards Dinner
Thursday, October 25, 2012 at The Pierre
   "What we’re ultimately about is whether the culture of democracy we have long fostered inspires an individual to join with others and make a difference in creating a vibrant city like none other and a government that truly acts in the public interest. That is not only Citizens Union’s charge but the responsibility of each and every one of us here tonight." - Dick Dadey, Executive Director, Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation
"Without the Citizens Union it’s safe to say there would be a much less honorable and honest form of government here in NYC." - Adrian Benepe
   "The good news here and you’ve already heard it, is that change is possible – that’s what excites me about this organization. They have persistence I can't even imagine." - Jason Stewart
     "I applaud Citizens Union for all that you do and have done to promote education about the political process." - Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr.
     "Despite the tremendous efforts of Citizens Union, much more still needs to be done to reform our state government, improve the electoral process and insure adherence to ethics and integrity on the part of our government officials,  which seems to be in a particular state of crisis today." - Betsy Plevan



Highlights from Citizens Union's 2011 Awards Dinner
Thursday, October 27, 2011 at The Pierre




Monica Azare, third from left, receives the Business Leadership Award, with, from left, CU Chair Peter Sherwin, Partnership for New York City President Kathryn Wylde and CU Executive Director Dick Dadey. 

Photo by Mike Sheehan

Honoree Sheila Birnbaum with her brother Paul Lubetsky.
Photo by Mike Sheehan



Cole Davenport, son of honoree Monica Azare, is congratulated by CU Board member John Avlon for winning one of three new iPads raffled off that evening.
Photo by Mike Sheehan


Honoree Julie Menin.
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Honoree Rudy Washington
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Gary Naftalis, third from left, receives the Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Award with, from left, Peter Sherwin, Richard J. Davis, and Dick Dadey
Photo by Mike Sheehan

Highlights from Citizens Union's 2010 Awards Dinner

On Thursday, October 28, 2010 at The Pierre, Citizens Union honored four outstanding New Yorkers:

  • Lisa M. Caputo, Business Leadership Award
  • Honorable David N. Dinkins, Public Service Award
  • Dr. Frank J. Macchiarola, Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Award
  • Randy M. Mastro, Civic Leadership Award
       "New York State’s closed and broken system of government lends itself to bad policies or no policies and fosters the corrupt behavior that has become too often an occurrence in Albany."-Dick Dadey, Executive Director
       "In 2010, we have made historic leaps toward meaningful redistricting reform. Not only do we have record support from legislators, we have secured support from the two main primary candidates for governor to veto any district lines that are not passed by an independent commission." - Peter Sherwin, Chair
       "It’s about doing the right thing; it’s about having the courage of your convictions; and it’s about having principles worth fighting for. That’s what makes this organization so great." - Randy Mastro
       "We must learn to talk civilly to one another about real change."-Frank Macchiarola
       "The challenge for the Citizens Union going forward is to ensure that NYC pursues aggressive policies that benefit the least of our brothers."- Mayor David Dinkins
       "Inclusion is an essential principle in our society and is the centerpiece of the mission of CU. Inclusion is at the heart of good government."- Lisa Caputo

    Photo credits Julienne Shaer

     Honoree Mayor David Dinkins
     and wife Joyce

     Photo by Julienne Schaer
     Priscilla Newman, honoree Lisa Caputo
     and CU Development Director Bethany Wall
      Photo by Julienne Schaer
     Honoree Frank Macchiarola with wife Mary
     and dinner guests
     Photo by Julienne Schaer
    CU chair Peter Sherwin, Executive
    Director Dick Dadey, honoree Randy
    Mastro and Mayor Rudy Giuliani

    Photo by Julienne Schaer

    2009 Citizens Union Awards Dinner

The 2009  Citizens Union Awards Dinner  was held on Thursday, October 29, 2009 at The Pierre. We honored four outstanding New Yorkers:

  • Peter J. Beshar
  • Richard J. Davis
  • Honorable Edward Koch
  • Lisa M. Quiroz
   "We need to end the responsibility-ducking, ethically challenged, campaign cash-influenced, closed door deliberations, special interests-driven decision making process that passes for democracy in Albany. And we need to do it within the next two years."-Dick Dadey, Executive Director, Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation
   "Citizens Union evaluated over 100 candidates for citywide and within the city races. Notably, four of the challengers we supported [prevailed] against incumbents that we thought were no longer doing, or for that matter ever did, a good job in City Council-they were booted out. That is the highest number in the history of New York for many, many decades."-Peter Sherwin, Chair, Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation
   "Even after 112 years there's still plenty of work for Citizens Union to do and plenty for all of us to do. You [Citizens Union] have been a very important partner with our administration. We've worked together to craft the most comprehensive pay-to-play campaign finance reform in the country. This law is now a model for the country."-Mayor Michael Bloomberg


   "I'm someone who is so indebted to this city, to this country, for all that it has given to me. I'm so grateful. And those who don't understand how lucky they are to live in this city, in this state, and in this country, I pity you. But I know that no one in this room feels that way and that you're all as exuberant on that issue as I am."-Ed Koch
   "What's so important in this city is for us to give voice to everyone, to find talent in all of our communities. And I hope that that is an effort that we will all continue to make, because that is the story of New York."-Lisa Quiroz
   "Citizens Union recognizes how important it is to the stability of our society that people have confidence in our government. . . . It is important that people believe, particularly in hard times, that the difficult decisions that are being made that will affect them in so many critical ways are being made in an open and understandable way."-Richard J. Davis
   "It's really incumbent upon the business community to now actually get engaged and step into the fray and help find a solution to the state government crisis. . . . I think it will only credibly change if the illustrious corporations and firms that are represented here engage in a more meaningful way in Albany."-Peter Beshar

Photo credit Julienne Shaer



Honorary Chairs:
Diane M. Coffey, Alexandra Lebenthal, Janno Lieber, George S. Kaufman, Ogden N. Lewis, Hon. Basil A. Paterson.
Dinner Chairs: 
Hon. Robert Abrams, George Arzt, John P. Avlon, Barry Berke, Judi Rappoport Blitzer, Gerrard P. Bushell, James Capalino, David Caplan, Stephen J. Dannhauser, Christina R. Davis, Brian Duperreault, Michelle Ebanks, Gail H. Hilson, Patricia Hynes, Leah C. Johnson, Robert M. Kaufman, Peter M. Lehrer, Nathan Leventhal, John LoCicero, Lillian Rodriquez Lopez, Gena Lovett, Grace Lyu-Volckhausen, Randy Mastro, Gary P. Naftalis, Kevin M. Rampe, Peter J.W. Sherwin, Alair A. Townsend, Dennison Young, Jr.


2008 Awards Dinner Highlights


The Citizens Union 2008 Annual Awards Dinner was held on Tuesday, October 28th at the Waldorf=Astoria. We honored four exemplary New York leaders:

  • Agnes Gund, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Award
  • Janno Lieber, Business Leadership Award
  • Basil A. Paterson, Civic Leadership Award
  • Dennison Young, Jr., Public Service Award

Click  here to view our invitation and  here to view a list of Past Citizens Union Awards Dinner Honorees. 


"Citizens Union is here to bring many different voices together. Not so that we can decide policy issues. We leave that for many of our politicians who are here with us this evening. But, we are here to try to inform the debate."— Peter J.W. Sherwin, Chair, CU and CUF


"Citizens Union serves as our city's and our state's conscious of good government, challenging New Yorkers and our elected official to always fight in the public interest." — Dick Dadey, Executive Director, CU


"One of the biggest and most important tools that we have to educate voters is something called The Gotham Gazette, our website. This incredible website…You will see this wealth of information. Everyday, we digest all the newspapers. You plug into all of the important and relevant stories. There are hundreds of links into blogs and other websites that provide invaluable information that go to the life and core of our city, its problems, its potential solutions." — Robert Abrams


"We have to reform our political and government system. We have to have a valid campaign finance program so that there is not undue influence in Albany or any place else." — Governor David A. Paterson


"When I was first elected to the State Legislature in 1965, I learned so much from George Hallett, past executive secretary of Citizens Union. I learned about governance, legislative process, full disclosure, transparency, and his pet project, proportional representation. It’s a very special honor to be here tonight and refresh my memories of George Hallett." — Basil A Paterson, Recipient of Civic Leadership Award


"Citizens Union has played a tremendous role in the revitalization of the city. You understand that good government just doesn't happen. Left to its own devices, government can become overpowering. It can decline. It can decay. We were warned of that by James Madison. If men were angels, we wouldn't need government. If men were angels, we wouldn't need Citizens Union. You sit there and you help us remain focused on what the real focus of government should be. And there is absolutely no substitute…no matter how effective the mayor is…no matter how effective the governor is. There is no substitute for being involved in the life of government. That's really what makes it work." — Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani


"Universally, I think, you [Citizens Union] are praised for standing up and trying to improve our lives. And you are creating the debate that is very healthy for all of us to, in fact, engage in to improve our lives. " — Dennison Young, Recipient of Public Service Award


"I would like to pay tribute to not only to good government and also to all of the politicians. All of you who have served government, I'd like to thank you because politicians get a raw deal because democracy is about government. Politics is the engine of democracy. And politicians are the engineers of democracy. Yes. There are good politicians and bad politicians. Some even become statesmen. But let's not attack politicians as no good for our democracy. They are necessary and important for what is democracy." — Vartan Gregorian


"The Citizens Union is a very important organization because it focuses on civic life -- not only on good government, which is such an important component of civic life, but on other civic goods: the richness of our urban infrastructure, for one; our diversity, and our global reach." — Agnes Gund, Recipient of the Robert F. Wagner Jr. Award


"Citizens Union has always stood for principles about how public issues ought to be debated and how government ought to be run: substantive analysis, public-spirited competence, ethics. It's a powerful brand." — Janno Lieber, Recipient of Civic Leadership Award


Honorary Chairs:
Hon. David Dinkins, Hon. Rudy Giuliani, Patricia M. Hynes, Richard Kahan, George S. Kaufman, Ogden N. Lewis, Hon. Charles B. Rangel, Roy L. Reardon, Elizabeth F. Stribling, Diana L. Taylor, and Hon. Peter F. Vallone, Sr.
Dinner Chairs: 
John Avlon, Hon. Robert Abrams, Judi Rappoport Blitzer, Christina R. Davis, Daniel L. Doctoroff, David L. Greenbaum, John H. Gross, Gail H. Hilson, Robert M. Kaufman, Harold Levy, Gena Lovett, Grace Lyu-Volckhausen, Peter J. Powers, Peter J.W. Sherwin, and Larry A. Silverstein.


2007 Awards Dinner Highlights



"Why do we care about good government? We care not just because good government is inherently the right thing; we care because good government encourages people to participate in the political process and participation in the political process by more of our citizens is critical to a healthy democracy." — Richard J. Davis, Chair, CU and CUF


"This year working with Citizens Union we enacted groundbreaking pay to play campaign finance reform laws… I’ve always believed that we deserve a government that is accountable, ethical, transparent and even-handed and that is why the Citizens Union was founded all those years ago and why they are still here today." — Mayor Michael Bloomberg


"Incumbency retention in the New York State Legislature is 97% . That means that 97% of the time an incumbent runs for relection he or she is reelected. Citizens Union will be launching a crusade to end partisan gerrymandering… We have got to end the self dealing in drawing legislative districts by creating a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw those lines… " — Robert Abrams, President, CUF

On Tuesday, October 23rd, Citizens Union held its 2007 Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria. Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Quinn, former state Attorney General and Citizens Union Foundation President Robert Abrams along with other elected officials, business leaders Don Marron, Cathleen Black, and George Kaufman, and numerous other civic leaders joined the boards of Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation to honor four great New York City leaders.



Alexandra Lebenthal received the Business Leadership Award for her extraordinary leadership in building a thriving business climate, and making New York City a better place to live and work.


Diana L. Taylor was presented with the Civic Leadership Award for her countless contributions and exemplary leadership in building a vibrant civic life in the City of New York.


Patricia M. Hynes & Roy L. Reardon were honored with the Robert F. Wagner Jr. Award for their exemplary leadership and service to all New Yorkers ensuring legal services for New Yorkers in need, greater accessibility of the courts and much more.


Honorary Chairs:
Richard Kahan, George S. Kaufman, Ogden N. Lewis, Catie and Don Marron, Hon. George Pataki, Elizabeth F. Stribling, and Hon. Peter F. Vallone, Sr.
Dinner Chairs: 
Robert Abrams, Richard I. Beattie, Cathleen P. Black, Judi Rappoport Blitzer, Andrew Blum, John Cahill, Robert B. Catell, Pamela Rogers Chepiga, Jay Diamond, Christina R. Davis, Richard J. Davis, Barry H. Garfinkel, Gail H. Hilson, Marianna Koval, James Lebenthal, Alan Levine, Ellen Levine, Judith A. Livingston, Gena Lovett, Grace Lyu-Volckhausen, Robert J. McGuire, Hon. E. Leo Milonas, Thomas A. Moore, Sara E. Moss, Gary Naftalis, and Peter J.W. Sherwin.



CU extends its thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the 2007 Citizens Union Awards Dinner for their generous support and for helping to advance good government reforms.

Photo credit Julienne Shaer