Friends of Karen, which supports critically-ill children and their families in the New York Tri-State area, has elected a new president of its Board of Directors, longtime board member and North Salem resident Paul Smadbeck. 

Smadbeck joined the Friends of Karen board in April 1996 and has been an active member ever since. He has worked in the commercial real estate business in New York City since 1984 and is currently a senior managing director of investment sales at Cushman & Wakefield, a leading global real estate services firm. Smadbeck is a published composer and received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from Ithaca College. He is also a trustee of the Heckscher Foundation for Children in New York City. 

“Paul brings strong leadership, a wealth of experience, and his longtime commitment to Friends of Karen to this pivotal role,” said Executive Director Judith Factor. “This is a moment in our history when the organization is challenged to grow its revenue to meet the needs of an increasing number of families. Paul is certainly the ideal partner to help guide Friends of Karen during this period of growth, as we approach the organization’s 40th anniversary in 2018.”

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In talking about his commitment to Friends of Karen, Smadbeck said, “Compassion -- the urge to help others in need -- and the love of family, both lie at the very core of what makes us human. I can think of no other organization that embodies these basic truths more plainly, and does so more uniquely, than Friends of Karen. It is an honor to be a part of this mission.” 

Since 1978, Friends of Karen’s mission has been to help families with a child battling cancer or another life-threatening illness in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. When a child is seriously ill, it affects the entire family. Friends of Karen social workers assist each family member. Their child-life specialists and expressive arts therapists work with the ill child, siblings and parents to help them express their feelings and cope. An ill child’s treatment can last from months to years, but Friends of Karen is there with an individualized program of emotional, financial and advocacy support. No family is ever the same after a devastating diagnosis, but they can remain stable and functioning with this blend of financial and psychosocial support. Friends of Karen, a lifeline to families, has received the highest 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for nine consecutive years.  

For more information, visit or call (914) 277- 4547.