LeFrak, Karen

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LeFrak, Karen


Married Richard LeFrak (a land developer); children: Harrison, James. Education: Mount Holyoke College, B.A. (magna cum laude); Hunter College, M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Playing classical piano, breeding show poodles.


Home and office—New York, NY.


Philanthropist. Member, New York State Council on the Arts; New York Philharmonic, director and member of executive, marketing, and education committees, assistant archivist of Volunteer Council. Previously worked in archival management and historical editing; former actress and nursery-school teacher. Member, Central Park Conservancy Women's Committee and Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center administrative board. Member of board, American Kennel Club and Canine Health Foundation.


Delta Society (honorary board member).

Awards, Honors

James Hammerstein Award, and New York Women's Agenda Star Breakfast Awards, both 2004, both for work aiding victims and families of September 11th Twin Towers tragedy; Frederick Law Olmstead Award.


Jake the Philharmonic Dog, illustrated by Marcin Baranski, Walker (New York, NY), 2006.


Karen LeFrak and her husband, Richard LeFrak, are actively involved in several of New York City's major philanthropies. LeFrak's interest in the arts has led to her positions as a director of the New York Philharmonic, her membership in the New York State Council on the Arts, and her work chairing the New York Orchestra's 150th Anniversary Ball. LeFrak's civic involvement, along with her work for the American Kennel Club's DOGNY project and her volunteer work with therapy dogs, has also combined to inspire her picture book Jake the Philharmonic Dog.

Written to help children learn about the performing arts, Jake the Philharmonic Dog introduces readers to Richie, the orchestra's principle stage hand, and his dog, Jake. When Richie takes the music-loving Jake to work one day, the dog discovers the many different instruments used in the orchestra, and saves the day by finding the conductor's missing baton. "Children will enjoy Jake's charming personality," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor of LeFrak's canine hero, and Mary Elam wrote in School Library Journal that Jake the Philharmonic Dog will "appeal to dog lovers and may serve as a painless introduction to the orchestra as well."

Unlike his fictional counterpart in Jake the Philharmonic Dog, the real-life Jake, a mixed-breed terrier,

comes to the Philharmonic every day. "I saw this little dog kind of stretching with all the musicians as they left for rehearsal break," LeFrak recalled to Robin D. Schatz of the Bergen County, New Jersey Record. in discussing the inspiration for her picture book. "I'd been a music teacher for children for many years and thought he'd be a perfect vehicle to teach children about music and the people who perform it." LeFrak's proceeds from Jake the Philharmonic Dog are donated to the New York Philharmonic.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of Jake the Philharmonic Dog, p. 846.

New York Times, October 28, 2001, Julie V. Ionvine, "The Healing Ways of Dr. Dog," p. ST8.

Publishers Weekly, September 11, 2006, review of Jake the Philharmonic Dog, p. 53.

Record (Bergen County, NJ), January 4, 2007, Robin D. Schatz, "New York Philharmonic's House Dog, a Literary Figure," p. F04.

School Library Journal, September, 2006, Mary Elam, review of Jake the Philharmonic Dog, p. 177.


Jake the Philharmonic Dog Web site, (August 6, 2007).

Walker Books Web site, (August 6, 2007), "Karen LeFrak."