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Posner Gerstenhaber '85 receives Founders' Alumni Award

Ransom Everglades bestowed its most prestigious alumni award for public service on Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber ’85, who has established herself as a pioneer, global leader and outspoken advocate in the field of suicide prevention.
Gerstenhaber accepted the 2019 Founders’ Award for Distinguished Service to the Community from Head of School Penny Townsend, who said that Posner Gerstenhaber’s work “exemplified the spirit of stewardship and leadership that Paul Ransom envisioned when he sought students who would leave the world better than they found it.”

The founder and director of The Columbia Lighthouse Project at Columbia University, Posner Gerstenhaber developed a scientific approach to suicide deterrence that has inspired local, national and international policy changes and helped achieve reductions in suicides across all sectors of society and on six continents. She received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service in 2018.

“It’s with great humility and honor that I accept this award for work that truly embodies Paul Ransom’s founding words," she said. “Among the recognitions that I have received, this one is particularly meaningful."

She dedicated the award to her late parents, Susan and Steven Posner.

Posner Gerstenhaber was honored during a Nov. 6 event that celebrated RE’s most generous supporters at the home of RE trustee Constance Fernandez and husband Mike Fernandez. She will return to Ransom Everglades this winter to address the community at large at the Lewis Family Auditorium; she will also meet with RE students, faculty, coaches and staff during the school day. Ransom Everglades will share more information when available.

A graduate of Brown University, Posner Gerstenhaber was honored in 2007 as the Most Distinguished Alumna of her graduate school, Yeshiva University, over 50 years. Her work has been cited at the White House, congressional hearings and by the Supreme Court. She also helped found the Speyer Legacy School in New York.

“The impact I’ve been able to have in saving lives would not have happened without the education that I received at Ransom Everglades," she said, "the high school that nourished who I was meant to be, and put me on a path that has felt like an epic dream."
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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.