A Spotlite on ALEXANDRA LEBENTHAL
By Jonathon Ziegler
Alexandra Lebenthal balances her life as a CEO, wife, mother of three lovely children, newly published novelist, television commentator, philanthropist and member of several boards of New York City’s most venerable institutions. How does she do it? I interviewed her for PMc Magazine to find out.
Jonathon Ziegler: You’ve been described as a CEO-cialite. How did that come about?
Alexandra Lebenthal: The CEO-cialite term was coined by Jessica Pressler at NY Mag’s intelligencer. It was originally part of a piece that was a big sharky, but she and I connected and I told her how perfect it was. I hate being called a socialite as I have a pretty intense career, but at the same time I am out and about quite frequently, so it’s the best way to marry my two lives!
JZ: You’ve been involved with the Alzheimer’s Foundation for many years. Can you tell us about that?
AL: My work with both the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is due to my mother who was diagnosed at age 69 and died at 79. She was the most stylish, creative and vibrant woman who took on new things as she got older until the disease stopped her. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to cancer and heart disease, making an enormous difference. My hope is to do the same for Alzheimer’s.
JZ. You wrote a novel about the experience of Upper East Side wives in the financial collapse of 2008. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
AL: My book, The Recessionistas, originated from my column on the New York Social Diary in which I talk about the financial world in mostly fictional ways. People responded so well to the columns and I enjoyed writing in fiction so much that the book was easy to do. It’s a juicy story you can read in a day or two, but it also tackles about what really happened before and during the financial crisis in a way people can understand. I was thrilled that Sony Television Pictures acquired the rights to it!
JZ: Any plans to write another book?
AL: I do have plans to write another and have written some already, but my schedule has been really tough these last few months so I’m not sure when I will finish.
JZ: How do you balance being a busy CEO, mother of three and philanthropist?
AL: Balance is the age old elusive thing we seek but don’t often find. Sometimes everything clicks and sometimes it seems to fall apart. I’m lucky that I can, to a certain extent, set my own schedule since it’s my company, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t miss things.
JZ: Can you give us your opinion of the future of the economy in the next few years?
AL: I think the economy is in for more uncertainty in the next year. The presidential election is going to mean a lot of talk and not much action until the new (or old) president is inaugurated. I’m deeply concerned about the inability of congress to act prudently or efficiently. I’m concerned about the amount of debt the US has outstanding and I’m concerned about the Euro. Other than that, things look great!
JZ: Any big plans for 2012?
AL: There are always big plans! Nothing specific, but looking forward to it!
Alexandra Lebenthal is the CEO of the family company, Lebenthal and Company, which her grandfather founded in 1925 in New York City. She is a well-known figure on Wall Street and has made many television appearances offering her insights into the economy. She is a passionate advocate for women in business and is involved with several distinguished cultural institutions in the city. She is also a contributing editor of New York Social Diary and a newly published novelist! She balances all of this with raising three lovely children!
Alexandra Lebenthal interviewed by Jonathon Ziegler
Written by Jonathon Ziegler
Photography by Jonathon Ziegler
Additional Photography by Patrick McMullan for Patrick McMullan.com
Design by Marie Havens
Alexandra Lebenthal, at home in NYC, Photography by Jonathon Ziegler
Jay Diamond & Alexandra Lebenthal, THE CONSERVATORY BALL: “An Evening at the Alhambra” Celebrating the 120th Anniversary of THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN, The New York Botanical Garden, NYC, June 2, 2011, Photography by Patrick McMullan for Patrick McMullan.com
Alexandra Lebenthal & Michelle Smith, New York Botanical Garden WINTER WONDERLAND BALL, Enid Haupt Conservatory, New York Botanical Garden NYC, December 10, 2010, Photography by Patrick McMullan for Patrick McMullan.com