A Life of Charitable Giving
and Positive Impact
By ElizaBeth Taylor
Photography By Marsin Mogielski
The New York-based philanthropist Maria Fishel is a busy woman — attending lectures in art history, music, and literature at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in addition to her dedication to the family business, Renaissance Properties. But she is never too busy to dedicate time to several charitable causes, including one of the Hamptons key charitable events, the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) annual Hamptons Happening. Maria has been donating her time as a committee member, major fundraiser, and chair of events for the SWCRF and its annual benefit event for nearly ten years. Maria and her husband, Kenneth Fishel, have been instrumental in raising funds to help the foundation’s work to minimize and eradicate the scourges of cancer. The couple is also dedicated to a number of other causes related to the arts, animal rights, health, and civic improvement. “I love helping others and I love giving,” says Maria.
The success of the family-run Renaissance Properties, a luxury real estate organization — led by third-generation CEO Kenneth Fishel — enables Maria and her husband to help others, which reflects Maria’s strong belief that with wealth comes great responsibility to help those less fortunate.
Growing up in Ecuador, Maria was taught the importance of giving and caring for others. Her fond childhood memories are of her parents and a regal great-grandfather who traveled from Granada, Spain, to live with them. “I didn’t have an alarm clock. There was a mango tree outside my window. The ripe fruit would fall to the ground and wake me early in the morning,” remembers the philanthropist about the simple pleasures of life at home as a young girl.
Modest and unassuming days transformed into a different life when she moved to the United States as a young woman ready to take on a whole new world. Her gratitude for family and her upbringing are values she has never forgotten, nor taken for granted, and even in her home today she has a collection of plates prominently displayed, each painted with delicate flowers and trees to remind her of her mother’s garden, and her proud Ecuadorian roots.
Renaissance Properties has distinguished itself as one of New York’s premier luxury real estate firms for over half a century. With more than one million square feet of prime commercial space in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Southern Florida, where it owns the state-of-the-art Class A Aventura Corporate Center, Renaissance prides itself on delivering the highest level of comfort and modern technology combined with the most elegant designs. The aim is always to provide the best-looking spaces with high-level services to meet the needs of its tenants.
Longtime prominent residents in the Hamptons, the Fishels have hosted the annual Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) Tennis Tournament benefit at their 16-acre estate in Bridgehampton three times. Other charities they have been involved with include the Chabad Center for Jewish Life, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, ASPCA, The PAW Project, NoHo Business Improvement District, and the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund. In addition, Kenneth serves on the boards of SWCRF, Community Housing Improvement Corporation, and NoHo New York Business Improvement District. “In choosing the organizations we donate to, our goal is to focus on areas where we feel we can have the greatest impact,” says Kenneth.
Like the sweet-smelling mangos that surrounded her youthful days, Maria’s family tree has strong roots and shading branches that are helping grow a prosperous future for many. “The days that I have lived I would not have changed for anything. I appreciate what I have, and I want to share it,” says Maria, who recently was awarded an honorable grant from the Imperial Order of Carlos V, in observance of the statutes of the Spanish Herald Society and the School of Arms, by order of the Grand Master. “It was ingrained in me to find solutions and to make things better,” she continues.
Maria sees the choice she and Kenneth made to have a home in the Hamptons as one that fulfills needs. She explains, “The Hamptons attracts individuals with the means to give and we are fortunate enough to have an estate where charities can hold events, and an appreciation of a number of causes which we are dedicated to support. This enables us to bring success to charities and give satisfaction to the donors — and as a byproduct, it brings enormous happiness to us that we can do something meaningful to help people.”
Photographer and Creative Director: Marsin Mogielski
Hair Stylist: Jackelyne Ramirez
Makeup Artist: Kerin Chadwick
Interior Designer: Wendy Valliere of Seldom Scene Interiors