Claudia Caine is Co-Chair of Point’s Board of Directors. She recently retired as President and Chief Operating Officer of NYU Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn; a 450-bed hospital and one of New York State’s largest Level 1 Trauma Centers. Claudia began supporting Point almost 10 years ago.

Your initial involvement was with Point was as a mentor. Then as a board member, you went on to chair the Mentoring Subcommittee. Why did you feel it is important for professionals to become mentors to LGBTQ students?

LGBTQ youth of today, despite all of the advances we’ve made, still lack intergenerational champions. Mentors understand and care about the unique challenges of being an LGBTQ youth and can provide emotional, career and long term support. Any student trying to navigate our world in the 21st century has it tough. Adding in the subtle (and often not-so-subtle) problems faced by LGBTQ students – who wouldn’t benefit from a committed, caring and experienced mentor who has been through the very same issues and opportunities? At Point, the mentor program is every bit as important as the scholarships themselves.

Just about everyone would agree that helping students complete their higher education degree is a laudable undertaking. How do you explain to people the uniqueness of what Point Foundation offers its scholars, making it much more than just a scholarship?

Of course the scholarship – the money – is important. It’s often the difference between getting an education and not getting an education. But I like to think Point becomes a new, additional and/or surrogate family for our scholars. The bonds that are created between the scholars and staff, alumni, board and their fellow scholars creates lifelong support systems. Some of our Point candidates, when they come for their interviews, have never met another gay or trans person before. Point creates an instant support system that can last a lifetime.

Board of Directors Co-Chairs Claudia Caine and Jim Cummings with Point Scholar Claudia Astorino

You have a great deal of experience managing large, complex organizations such as hospitals. What are some of the key hard and soft skills would you advise students to acquire to help them in their professional careers?

Emotional intelligence is the most valuable skill successful adults need in the working world. Relationships, interactions, negotiations and give and take are at the root of every single vocation –  without exception. Understanding the importance of giving, open, trusting relationships in any kind of profession is just as important as expertise, experience and hard work. Building trust and relationships create an infinite path to success. The most valuable advice I can give to anyone starting out is to pay attention to their relationships and their own role in creating good ones.

It’s often said that Point Scholars are going to become society’s future leaders. Who are some of the individuals you have looked up to in your life and who you find as inspiring role models? 

I miss Barack Obama desperately. To me, he is a man of vision, knowledge and integrity coupled with a rare ability to rise above the politics, the personalization, and the pettiness that surrounded him. For me he is the ultimate role model in that he is never deterred (even if discourage by the enormous roadblocks put before him). He is energized by his supporters but knew his own core value and values. He trusted in himself and his team and rose above the fray. I always aspire “to go high” and he proves it’s possible.

Read more about Claudia Caine and the rest of Point’s Board of Directors here.

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