May 8, 2023 By Bill Parry
The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria celebrated Queens business leaders and innovators at the inaugural “Claire Shulman Awards” fundraiser on May 4.
The event was dedicated to Shulman, who was remembered as a larger-than-life trailblazer who served as Queens Borough President from 1986 to 2002, and during her tenure, was instrumental in the establishment and development of the Museum of the Moving Image.
The museum recalled her work with the awards and looked to the future as they honored those who extend her legacy.
“Claire played such an integral role in shaping the Queens we know and love today as Borough President, but many here may not know of her steadfast support of the Museum during its founding days,” said MoMI Founding Chairman and former SAG-AFTRA executive John McGuire. “I know that she would be especially proud to see us gathered here in celebration of our collective accomplishments and the lifting up of the next generation of visionaries and leaders of the Queens community.”
Recipients of the Claire Shulman Awards were Capacity Development founder and executive director K. Bain; Kaufman Astoria Studios President Hal Rosenbluth; Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech; and Association for a Better New York CEO Melva Miller, who previously served as deputy Queens borough president.
“Like Claire, our four honorees are driven by their convictions, and have the rare talent to turn great ideas into actions, actions that benefit the many communities that are woven [and] packed tightly together in this, the most diverse urban landscape on Earth,” MoMI Deputy Director of Cultural Affairs Barbara Miller said. “They see problems, ones that may appear intractable, and get people and resources mobilized to meet urgent needs, such as housing, employment and safety. Such are the challenges that face civic leaders everywhere, but unique to Queens is the incredible fabric of differences — differences of language, religion, and cultural background, income, gender, politics — that make community organizing and social change particularly formidable, while at the same time of course even more richly rewarding.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards paid tribute to the honorees at MoMI just days after he dedicated his State of the Borough Address to lifting up the memory of his hero and mentor at the beginning of his speech at the Queens Theater.
“Claire left us three years ago, but her legacy is still very much alive in this room and in everything we do as a borough. That’s because Claire was a builder,” Richards said. “She believed in shovels in the ground. But she also believed in building communities. She believed in building a bright future big enough for all of us to share.”
In addition to MoMI, Shulman was pivotal in ensuring the development and growth of a number of other Queens cultural institutions like the Queens Museum of Art, the Hall of Science, the USTA National Tennis Center, the Queens Zoo, the Queens Theatre in the Park, and the Museum of the Moving Image, Flushing Town Hall, PS1, the Noguchi Museum and the South Queens Park Association.
When she endorsed Richards for her old job under the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in October 2019, Shulman said, “He really could be a great borough president. He will do a great job taking Queens to the next level.”
During his May 1 speech, Richards ticked off $127 million in capital investments made across Queens including $22 million for schools, $19 million for cultural groups, $18 million for hospitals, $16 million for libraries, $16 million for parks and $10 million for CUNY colleges.
“Claire, if you can hear us up there, thank you for giving me the blueprint,” Richards said. “You were there from the beginning and I hope you’re proud of all that my office — our office — has done in the last two and a half years.”