In an interview for the Joyful Heart Foundation's magazine, Alexandra Cohen, wife of hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen, broke down some of the reasons why she and her husband are deep into health philanthropy. Alexandra, born to a working class family in Washington Heights, saw her mother as a hero, "a kind of Mother Teresa," who took care of all the kids of the neighborhood.
She explained that her daughter befriended a girl with leukemia who was being treated at a hospital. Shocked at the state of the pediatric facilities in the department, Alexandra spearheaded a full-fledged overhaul.
Pediatric care is at the heart of much of what the Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation focuses on in the health area, and where the foundation's largest sums have gone. The Long Island Jewish Medical and North Shore University Hospital received $50 million pledge in 2010 to establish the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York. The medical center includes a pediatric emergency center, an intensive care unit and a surgery center.
As we often say here at IP, philanthropy is often personal. Alexandra, in that same interview, also reveals two other important tidbits that help explain the foundation's philanthropy. She was born in Washington Heights at Babies Hospital. That hospital is now called Columbia Presbyterian and Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital where a $50 million gift in 2011 established the Alexandra and Steven Cohen Pediatric Emergency Department at the hospital. As well, the New York Presbyterian network has received steady funding from the couple over the years.
The Cohen's daughters were all born at Mt. Sinai where several different medical centers under the Mt. Sinai umbrella, including the Dubin Breast Center and the Children's IBD Center, have received sums of money from the Cohens.
The Cohens aren't only into pediatric care, however. They have also committed $17 million to NYU Medical Center to establish the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Apart from medical centers, the foundation also appears to have a particular interest in fighting cancer and AIDS, where outfits like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation have all received funding.