Karen LeFrak can perhaps best be described as a modern-day Renaissance woman. Classical pianist, composer, children’s book author, philanthropist, breeder/shower of champion Standard Poodles: she’s all this and more.
After graduating magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke, LeFrak earned a master’s in music history from Hunter College and also studied archival management and historical editing at New York University. Her ballets, chamber music, and orchestral works have been performed by the New York University Percussion Ensemble, the Juilliard School, the New York Philharmonic principal brass, and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. In 2013, her second ballet, Pavlovsk, will be staged by the Alabama Ballet Company, after being premiered by ABT2 in New York in 2010.
A dog enthusiast, LeFrak breeds and shows champion Standard Poodles; one of her poodles, "Miki," retired from competition as America’s number one Standard Poodle with 88 Best in Show titles to his name. Her love for dogs also informs LeFrak’s several books for children: Jake the Philharmonic Dog, Jake the Ballet Dog, and Best in Show.
LeFrak was a cochair of the American Kennel Club’s DOGNY project, which raised over $2 million for the benefit of search-and-rescue dogs. She is also an honorary board member of the Delta Society, which certifies animals and handlers to perform animal-assisted therapy to medically fragile children and adults. She has taken her retired, certified show dogs to Mount Sinai Hospital and New York University Hospital and, with her dogs, provided therapy to the victims and families of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For these efforts, she was awarded both the James Hammerstein and the New York Women’s Agenda Star Breakfast Awards.
LeFrak is a director of the New York Philharmonic, where she chairs the Music Policy and Special Events Committee and serves on the Executive and Education Committees. She has also served as president of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy; on the administrative board of the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center; and on the New York State Council on the Arts.
In 2010, LeFrak was elected to the Hunter College Hall of Fame in recognition of outstanding achievement. For her work with the Central Park Conservancy she was awarded the Frederick Law Olmsted Award.