On Monday, June 5th, we broke ground on The Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, the first of its kind on a college campus. For over 15 years, Francine and the Foundation have worked closely with women who survived genocide, come out of prison, women living in homeless shelters, and we saw that we needed to make a greater impact.

Inspired by her mother, Ethel Stone (Barnard ’41), Francine chose Barnard to build this center to help young women find their voice, like the LeFrak Center Student Ambassadors. Alexandra Bilder (Barnard ’24) talked about how physical well-being is so much more than exercise; it’s about taking care of your body inside and out. Simran Datta (Barnard ‘24) shared her health journey and how it inspired her to encourage other young women to be their own health advocates. Shannon Geraghty (Barnard ’25) said, “The absence of financial literacy and lack of resources is a global issue.” These passionate young women are already passing their wisdom on to the next generation through the Financial Literacy Program at The Young Women’s Leadership School in the Bronx.

Dr. Marina Catallozzi, Chief Health Officer, explained that since the COVID-19 Pandemic, Barnard has prioritized students’ health. President Sian Beilock said, “Well-being is not something that sits next to excellence; it is something that is necessary for it.” With LeFrak Passports in hand, guests had their passports stamped as they explored some of the resources the Center will provide. Activities included a meditation station, a therapy dog, a virtual reality tour of the future Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being, and even an aromatherapy experience with scents created just for the Center.

The Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being is a revolutionary approach to well-being that will serve as a model for communities around the world. We have seen that when women come together, extraordinary change happens. From Rwanda to California, from a refugee camp to a classroom, we’re bringing women together to take back their power and claim their seat at life’s table.