Carla Hall, emcee

Carla Hall, emcee

The Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) 150th Anniversary Kick-Off Gala on Monday, June 6th will honor philanthropists and long-time BCS supporters Charles J. and Irene Hamm, builder and corporate leader Forest City Ratner Companies, NYC First Lady and mental health care activist Chirlane McCray, BCS program honoree Lanetta Darlington and BCS outstanding service honoree is Ellen Fine Levine. The gala will run from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, 333 Adams Street in Brooklyn and includes a reception, auction, dinner and awards presentation.

Our Purpose is Our Community is the theme for the kick-off of the BCS 150th landmark anniversary, a year-long campaign and celebration. The gala emcee is Carla Hall, acclaimed author, co-host of ABC’s popular lifestyle series The Chew and owner of the highly anticipated Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen restaurant in Brooklyn.

“BCS is proud to kick off this amazing milestone year by recognizing such accomplished leaders who all share our legacy of making an impact in Brooklyn. Our honorees, Charlie and Irene Hamm, Forest City, the First Lady and a proud graduate of one of BCS’s signature programs are each in their own ways great trailblazers. Together, they have truly helped us build ONE Brooklyn Community,” said Marla Simpson, BCS Executive Director. Guests include former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.

About the 150th Anniversary Kick Off Gala Honorees:

BCS Philanthropic Leadership Award honorees are Charles J. and Irene Hamm.  Charles J. Hamm started his illustrious career in advertising and marketing, becoming Executive Vice President at McCann Erickson. After 24 years in advertising, he became President and CEO of Independence Savings Bank.  From its Brooklyn headquarters, he grew the community-based bank from eight branches to 150.  In 1998, he founded Independence Community Foundation, now known as the Brooklyn Community Foundation. In addition to his long service on the BCS Board of Directors, including as Chairman, Charlie’s impact has been felt throughout Brooklyn, through his work with such great institutions as Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Pratt Institute. Mr. and Mrs. Hamm will be introduced by former Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz.

BCS Corporate Leadership Award will be presented to Forest City Ratner Companies, whose leadership in the construction of Downtown Brooklyn paved the way for the economic boom Brooklyn is experiencing today. From the MetroTech Center in 1992 to Atlantic Center in 2004 to Barclays Center in 2012, Forest City has built with a deep seated belief in Brooklyn and the people who live here. Bruce C. Ratner, Forest City Ratner’s Executive Chairman and former member of the BCS Board of Directors and MaryAnne Gilmartin, Forest City Ratner’s President and CEO, will accept the award on behalf of the company. Forest City Ratner Companies will be introduced by Hon. Eric L. Adams, Brooklyn Borough President.

BCS Civic Leadership Award honoree is Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York City, and a longtime Brooklyn resident and community advocate. A graduate of Wellesley College, she began her career as writer, editor and marketing analyst with Redbook, Essence and other magazines. She served as a speechwriter for Mayor David Dinkins and New York State Comptroller Carl McCall. As First Lady, she also serves as Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. An outspoken advocate of the need to break the stigma associated with mental illness and expand access to care, Ms. McCray joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015 to release a groundbreaking mental health roadmap, ThriveNYC. Today, she spearheads the City’s efforts to transform mental health care throughout all communities. The First Lady will be introduced by Michael Berry, a mental health advocate and former BCS client.

BCS Program Award honoree is Lanetta Darlington, who attended the BCS Gary Klinsky Children’s Centers (GKCC) after-school program at P.S. 149 in East New York as a child.  Her parents, who emigrated to Brooklyn from Guyana, inspired Lanetta to focus on academics. She graduated as high school salutatorian and earned an accounting degree from NYU. During high school, she worked as a teacher’s aide with GKCC at P.S. 149, mentoring students. Today, she is a successful financial analyst at New York Presbyterian. She remains committed to GKCC as a volunteer and is also involved in community work in her East New York neighborhood, where she continues to reside with her husband and daughter. Lanetta will be introduced by Steven Klinsky, who is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Mountain Capital, a former BCS Board member and long-time benefactor of the GKCC program.

BCS ONE Brooklyn Community Outstanding Service Award honoree is Ellen Fine Levine, Vice-Chair and Treasurer of the BCS Board of Directors. Through her exemplary service on the BCS Board since 2007, Ms. Levine has had a lasting impact on BCS and all those we serve. Until her retirement in 2015, Ms. Fine Levine was Managing Director and Executive Client Officer of The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), and previously, the company’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. She is a Certified Public Accountant and Member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the NY State Society of Certified Public Accountants. She also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the UAlbany School of Business and Chairs the Gotham Comedy Foundation’s Board of Advisors.

Sponsors include: Greenberg Traurig LLP, Citigroup, Consolidated Edison, Forest City Ratner Companies, PVH Corporation, CBRE Group, Corcoran, Cullen & Dykman LLP, Cydean Group LLC, Investors Bank, Bala Consulting Engineers, Park Strategies, and Uber.

Ticket prices begin at $500, and sponsorships range from $5,000 – $50,000. For more information on tickets and sponsorships for the BCS 150th Anniversary Kick-Off Gala, please call 718-310-5660 or email Please connect to BCS on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or at

About Brooklyn Community Services

BCS celebrates the strength of the human spirit, and in 2016, we celebrate our 150th Anniversary. Our mission is to empower at-risk children, youth and families, and adults with mental illness or developmental disabilities to overcome the obstacles they face, as we strive to ensure opportunity for all to learn, grow and contribute to ONE Brooklyn Community. To achieve this mission, we offer comprehensive and holistic services: early childhood education; youth development services and educationally rich after-school programs; counseling for at-risk families; treatment, recovery and job training to support the life goals of adults living with mental illness; person-centered rehabilitation and community living support for adults with developmental disabilities and disaster recovery case management and relief services. BCS also seeks to increase public awareness of the impacts of poverty on individuals and the community at-large.  With a staff of over 400 and 25 program sites around the borough, BCS serves 12,000 people every year. Today, BCS is one of the oldest not-for-profit, non-sectarian social service providers in New York City.