Cover Feature

Jean and Martin Shafiroff: The Power of Philanthropy and the Value of Generational Giving

Photo courtesy of Michael Paniccia

Jean Shafiroff and Martin Shafiroff are best known in philanthropic circles for their humility and graciousness. This hard-working couple is not only generous but also unassuming, honest and kind. Jean Shafiroff is often referred to as the First Lady of Philanthropy by the international press because of her outstanding leadership, work ethic and generosity in the philanthropic world. She serves on many charity boards, hosts a TV show on philanthropy and is the author of the book, “Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give.”

Martin Shafiroff, a top international investment advisor for decades, feels the same way about philanthropy as his wife does and is a strong supporter of the family’s work in this arena. Together, the New York couple, are a dynamic force.

The couple’s story is one of generational giving. Their parents were involved in philanthropy in their own way and served as role models. Martin and Jean Shafiroff’s two daughters are also involved with philanthropic work; the older daughter does extensive volunteer work in Kenya helping disabled orphans for months at a time. Their youngest daughter is the co-founder and president of Global Strays, an international animal welfare organization.

“We are proud of our daughters and the work they do. We wholeheartedly support all they do in the philanthropic world,” Jean said.

Martin Shafiroff is the Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management at Stifel, a full-service brokerage and investment banking firm. He has a long history on Wall Street as a leading international figure in finance, writing a book in 1982, called “Successful Telephone Selling in the 80’s,” which had a re-edition released in 1990, “Successful Telephone Selling in the 90’s.” The book is a best seller and has become a respected sales bible for sales professionals across the country and beyond.

Mr. Shafiroff is a go-to figure for guidance on investments for the world’s leading institutions and individuals, starting out in the 1970s as a partner of the Lehman Brothers, then ranking Number One on Barron Magazine’s Top 100 Wealth Advisors list in 2004. He then founded the Shafiroff Group, and in 2008, the Martin Shafiroff Group joined Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, Americas, which Stifel acquired in 2015. He now leads a top international investment team known for their honesty and top financial results. He is a longstanding member of the board of directors of Baruch College.

Jean Shafiroff first got involved in philanthropy during her childhood and has continued it for decades. She is a sought-after leader in philanthropy and chairs upwards of eight to ten charity galas each year. In addition, each year she hosts and underwrites at least a dozen large-scale cocktail parties for different charities in her New York homes and elsewhere. Her book, “Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give,” with an introduction by Georgina Bloomberg, is highly regarded by philanthropic experts as well as young aspiring philanthropists. Jean’s four areas of focus are women’s rights, the rights of underserved populations, health care and animal welfare. In addition, she supports many other chairty groups, including those that suport the arts and those that work to end discrimination.

Her TV show, “Successful Philanthropy,” which airs six times each week in the Hamptons is also highly regarded. She interviews politicians, celebrities, business leaders and philanthropic leaders, and has even interviewed a US presidential candidate.

Jean serves on several boards of charitable organizations, including the Southampton Hospital Association, Mission Society of NYC, Couture Council of the Museum at FIT, French Heritage Society, Casita Maria, the New York Women’s Foundation, Global Strays and the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation honorary board. As a Catholic, she has served on The Jewish Board, a large mental health service charity, for 28 years and now is one of their honorary trustees. The Board serves 50% of a non-Jewish population. Jean served as the national spokesperson for the American Humane’s “Feed the Hungry” COVID-19 program, an initiative that raised $1,000,000 to provide food for over 1,000,000 animals living in 109 different shelters across the United States.

Jean has been honored many times by groups including American Humane, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Mission Society of NYC, French Heritage Society, Southampton Animal Shelter, Surgeons of Hope, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, Operation Warrior Shield, Viennese Opera Ball and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. She also has been honored by the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, Dominican Women’s Development Center, Fashion for Development, New York State’s Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright’s Women’s Leadership Awards, She Exist Magazine, Pet Philanthropy Circle, Animal Zone International, Health Advocates for Older People, Southampton African American Museum, Women’s eNews, Youth Counseling League, the NYC International Film Festival Foundation, The Jewish Board and Hadassah.

In December 2020 and then in March 2024, “Dan’s Papers” named Jean Shafiroff as “Philanthropist of the Year” at its Power Event on the Eastern End of Long Island and then at their Palm Beach Florida Award’s ceremony, respectively. Dan’s Paper has honored Jean Shafiroff many other times for her philanthropic work.

In September 2022 she was officially proclaimed the “First Lady of Philanthropy of New York” by New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, who represents the New York State Assembly and New York’s 76th District, in Manhattan. In November 2022, the 117th US Congress recognized Jean for her work in philanthropy, given by US Representative Carolyn Maloney who represented the 14th Congressional District in New York. She has also received many citations from the NYS Assembly for her philanthropic leadership.

In 2024, Jean became a member of The Global Mental Health Task Force to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #3.

Jean has a BS in physical therapy from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and an MBA in finance from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University. As a physical therapist, Shafiroff worked at St. Luke’s Hospital, an inner-city hospital, where many patients lived below the poverty level. After obtaining her MBA in finance, Jean went on to become an investment banker on Wall Street for a short time before getting married. She decided to step back from her Wall Street career and become a full-time mother after her first daughter was born. Gradually she became very involved in philanthropic work.

“We did not go out to charity galas like we do now,” Jean said. “I had to be home with our children, helping with homework and projects, giving them support. A good mother has to be there. Education and good values were top priorities of our family.” Their oldest daughter has an MS in Social Work from NYU and an undergraduate degree from Tufts University and spends much time doing volunteer work in Kenya. Their younger daughter is a graduate of Baruch College and the International Center of Photography (ICP). She worked as a photojournalist for a short time and then got very involved in animal welfare, being co-founder and president of Global Strays. “My philanthropic work is a major part of who I am. Philanthropy and my family are my top priorities,” Jean said.

“In my book, I have a chapter about the importance of teaching philanthropy at a young age, not just at home, but in schools and religious institutions,” Jean said. “Philanthropy is learned. Good role models are needed, too.”

When speaking about her book, Jean stated, “The whole premise of my book is that anyone can be a philanthropist. If you do not have the resources to give, you can give your time and knowledge, but those who can give financially, have an obligation to give. Without volunteers or funding, charities can not go on. Volunteer fundraising is vitally important and I have done a great deal of it.”

When it comes to her marriage, there is much that Jean Shafiroff admires most about her husband. “His first priority is family and work,” she said. “He is a real family man, I also respect his business ethics, he is very honest.”

She explained that “The ingredients of success are hard work, honesty, integrity and being a good person.” Regarding marriage, Jean says it’s about intent and effort. “You have to work at it, you have to want the marriage to work,” she said. “You have to love and support one another.”