As I virtually sat down to chat with long-time board member Jarrad Seuferling, there was something refreshing about him that I couldn’t immediately pin down. In our times filled with Zoom fatigue and a need to now exchange weekday small talk across a screen, with Jarrad it seemed that none of that applied. He struck me as someone you could relax and be real with. As I listened to Jarrad speak about his life, his career, and his involvement as a board member, I realized that his best qualities are his ability to be direct and honest with you, yet still come across with warmth. It is clear Jarrad has a big heart and good intentions. Jarrad is the type of person that I respect most – one who genuinely cares, without the extra fluff, who will have the actions to show for it. This personality was revealed to me more and more as he discussed his involvement with the Cristian Rivera Foundation.
Jarrad has been the owner of one of the largest security companies in the NYC area and a powerhouse in the venue and entertainment industries for the past 25 years. As a prominent club and restaurant owner, Jarrad had known of our founder John “Gungie” Rivera for many years, but did not truly connect with him until Jarrad’s security company was asked to work the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s 7th Annual Celebrity Gala. After witnessing the foundation’s work and mission first-hand, Jarrad immediately felt compelled to get involved. Jarrad became truly invested in the foundation’s cause and after spending a period of time contributing to various CRF fundraisers, he was asked to become a board member.
As a master at nurturing and maintaining connections with people, the responsibilities that came along with being a CRF board member came quite naturally to him. “I’m passionate about putting people together and helping their businesses or organizations grow. I have been running my business for a very long time and so at this time it’s running on autopilot. I really like uniting the right people together and helping build their goals,” said Jarrad. Building connections for the Cristian Rivera Foundation has proven to be one of his greatest strengths. “If I invite 20 people to the gala, 10 people are in it for the food, 5 people are in it for the auctions, but then about 5 people come back the next year without me asking them, or text me every now and again asking about the foundation. Those are the people who are in it for the long term. I’m a realist. There will always be some people who are in it to have a great time, but then there are also people who truly care about the cause,” said Jarrad. At the end of the day, these are the people we hope to form bonds with in order to propel our mission forward. Jarrad shares a similar sentiment when it comes to board members. “I am involved with a few other organizations and in my opinion, what makes a good board member is someone who is genuinely engaged in the foundation’s cause. People get in it for the wrong reasons, like networking or socializing. If you ask me, the number one thing is, you should have interest in the foundation without all the bells and whistles,” he said. This trait is something our foundation truly valued in Jarrad as we honored him with the 2018 Cristian Rivera Foundation Service and Dedication Award during our 10th Annual Celebrity Gala. It was his genuine desire and ability to fulfill and surpass his duties as a board member that warranted this special honor.
In comparison to other organizations, Jarrad expressed that he enjoys the camaraderie of the people who are involved with the Cristian Rivera Foundation. “Everyone has a passion and is acquainted with one another, it’s not just a bunch of people networking and you’re not in a room full of people you don’t know. John has a real passion for this mission that you just don’t see anywhere else. He also understands that there’s a “gas pedal” which we respect in terms of when it’s the right time to reach out to certain donors. With CRF, you know exactly who you are helping and who you are working with to reach that goal. That’s not always something that you get with a non-profit,” said Jarrad.
Feeling connected with the ones you are helping can be an important motivator for some donors and board members, but for Jarrad, he prefers to keep some distance. After meeting DIPG survivor Lisha Ayala on numerous occasions and seeing many families who have been affected by DIPG, Jarrad has found it’s possible to get too emotionally invested. “Lisha is super positive and this brings people hope. I love hearing from families but I’ve had family members who have been sick before, so I know how it is. For me, I know my place and the best thing to do is act,” said Jarrad. One goal Jarrad is taking action on over his next 5 years as a board member is to bring on 5 strong board members for the long run. At the end of the day, board members compose a significant amount of support and funding towards our goal of finding a cure for DIPG. He believes that once CRF’s fundraising events are able to kick off again we can successfully bring more supporters into the mix. In terms of how he’d like to see the foundation grow, as a long-time board member, Jarrad has been able to witness firsthand the organization’s growth during the gala each year. “More and more people are coming to these events and I definitely feel we’re on the right path to making it big and letting the world know about this deadly disease,” said Jarrad.
Jarrad was born and raised in Brooklyn and is now living in Queens with his wife and two kids. His company continues to evolve and adjust to the terms of how the pandemic has been reshaping our world. Each day he’s holding onto his seat seeing how his industry will continue to change in the months ahead. Like many, Jarrad has experienced great losses professionally due to the pandemic, yet I sense a quality of acceptance and peace with how things have come to be for him. Jarrad said, “My industry was decimated. It’s kind of crazy. We’re blessed that we were big enough to survive this. My business was lucky to survive where many didn’t. If you asked me 15 years ago what success means to me, I would have said I chased money. Now I chase living. You could have a failing business but if you’re happy doing it and are passionate about it -you’re successful. Success is being surrounded by the right people.” We are grateful to have Jarrad around as a board member taking concrete actions for the sake of DIPG children and families and we believe that one day we will reach the success of finding a cure.
By Sarde Laurente