Eva, Linda, and Annalisa from TJ Martell
This month we had the opportunity to chat with the T.J. Martell Foundation, members of the Suite Project in Manhattan. East Coast Creative Development Consultant Linda Ingrisano and East Coast Director of Special Events Annalisa Buehler sat down with us to tell us more about what they do.
We’d like to extend a really big thank you to Eva George for helping us putting this interview together!
The Suite Project: Can you explain what a non-profit organization means as an employee of T.J. Martell?
Linda Ingrisano: A non-profit organization works with a certain amount of profit margins to cover their expenses and pay their staff. The bulk of their fundraising and income goes to the cause they are associated with, in our case we raise money for cancer research. The T.J. Martell Foundation is celebrating its forty-fifth year in existence, and to date we have raised close to 300 million dollars for cancer research.
Annalisa Buehler: The researchers have leveraged this into about a billion dollars for additional funds. We give them seed money to start because most of these are very innovative, so they don’t get research money very easily. We have an advisory board that oversees all the applications, and they are the ones that approve and say which hospitals and research projects we’re going to fund.
LI: Ground-breaking, non-traditional projects. We fund nine hospitals in the country and three are here in New York, which are Memorial Sloan Kettering, Columbia Presbyterian, and Mount Sinai. So we work with top doctors throughout the country and like Anna said, they’re all on top of their game doing innovative work and research. They’re pioneering.
SP: So in a way you’re making sure they come up with new and great ideas. I didn’t know that about T.J. Martell.
AB: Yes. So our goal is to keep our expenses down so we can give and raise even more money to the research funds, and that is where we rely on our partnerships and relationships for help from other people that want to partner with us.
SP: Learning about how research centers work and connect between science and business is really interesting. What would you say the main goal of T.J. Martell is on an average work day?
LI: Just to give you a quick background story, Tony Martell, the founder, his son was diagnosed with leukemia. Tony was a senior executive at CBS records. There was the foundation to help save his son, who unfortunately lost his battle with leukemia. He and his wife were passionate [about] this commitment, and the music and entertainment industry embraced him. A large part of what we still do today is to create and have events, fundraising with the music and entertainment industry, so our galas will honor people in those fields along with the medical professionals. Our roots are there and right now we’re setting up for the spring. We have a big “Martell in Miami” event which is a Latin music event, we have an event in April in New Jersey in the Martell’s hometown and community, and then in May we have two big events here in Manhattan, a women’s luncheon that recognizes all up and coming women in both New York and music. We have a fishing event, we have a golfing event, Anna does a young professionals group. We do emails, meetings, conference calls, site visits, whatever it takes. Anna’s always seeing new venues and putting people together to make the events sparkle so we can sell to large donors.
SP: So a lot of coordination to make these events work.
LI: A lot of moving parts. All the events look quite different, and each year Anna does a great job of giving them their own distinct look and feel from the invitation to the event itself.
SP: The role of the company is the connection between music and entertainment to curing cancer. You did mention that you do other fundraising and you can go broader than that.
LI: Our tagline is “The T.J. Martell Foundation, Music’s Promise to Curing Cancer.” Looking around here you can see where the heart of the foundation is.
SP: Are there any personal goals you may have both here at T.J. Martell or in life? Any personal connections you have as to why you do what you do, or why you were interested in a non-profit organization?
LI: For myself, I started on the record side so I always knew about the foundation. Good-will and community service is a strong value of mine, so I love that. Unfortunately we’ve all been touched by cancer, I’ve lost close people in my life. If we could find a cure that would be amazing for so many people out there.
AB: I would like to echo everything Linda said.
SP: Seeing all of these big corporations, I want to know where the heart is in both the New York setting and the things we do as professionals in the workplace. Everyone has a passion as for what they do and a meaning for why they’re here. I want to try and continue to find that.
LI: Definitely find that for yourself. It is really nice, it will make your day at work a lot more enjoyable even when it’s challenging and frustrating.
AB: It’s definitely a passion, and it’s great to be with the music industry to have a fun event to help raise money for cancer research that gets to the root of the problem and tries to actually fix the issue.
LI: And the awesome thing for us to see is the medical research presentations, that’s up on a Facebook live on our Facebook page T.J.Martell, then you get to see that side of it. What all of our hard work does, the breakthrough pieces of science and information. It makes you feel really good.
SP: Terrific. Those are all of my questions for you. I do want to ask though, how do you find the commute coming into The Suite Project? The building itself, accessibility, the location…
LI: It’s very convenient. I get to meet people, the neighbors on the floor, and it’s a good location for meetings around the city. We’re constantly having meetings for the upcoming events, pitching people ideas, so it’s good to be centrally located. That’s important for me.
SP: What do you like about the Suite Project?
LI: For us this was an upgrade. It’s prestigious to have a 5th Avenue address for sure.
AB: The staff is very lovely to work with as well.
LI: They’re always looking to stay updated and competitive. Since we’ve been here I appreciate all that little stuff like the additional conference rooms, the coffee, the bathrooms looking good stocked with luxury products. It makes it a more interesting place to bring people in for meetings out on the floor. I appreciate all that and the monthly mixers and themes, the events on the roof. For us it’s great to be in a space that’s mixed and open like this, we’re always looking to partner and talk to new people about their businesses and how we can support one another.