News & Updates

Risa Fund Launches with Reception at Hillwood Museum

On January 8, 2014, family and friends of the Schonfelds gathered at the Hillwood Museum to honor Marisa and to launch the Risa Fund.

The program included remarks by Gail and Burt Schonfeld, Paul Wardlaw, Bianca Aboubakare, Deirdre Saunder, and Todd Rubin; and concluded with a special performance by singer/songwriter, Laura Tsaggaris. Read excerpts and watch videos from the program below.

For the memory of Marisa's values of generosity, toil, and a short joyous life fully lived, the Risa Fund was created.
- Burt Schonfeld

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wardlawPaul Wardlaw, Head Woman's Tennis Coach, Brown University

Marisa's Brown University tennis coach

"Marisa was a tremendous competitor, … a peaceful warrior.… It's like she was a dancer out there, just very relaxed and very composed. … [Marisa was] very humble, incredibly successful, … always optimistic. … She accepted the sport as a risk. She wasn't worried about outcomes, and she loved the process; she loved the relationships with her teammates. … She played with abandon. She was willing to lay it on the line, never holding back, never concerned with image or status. … Playing with abandon separates the greats from the good. It's what I think about when I envision Marisa playing."

icon-video Watch Paul's remarks.

aboubakareBianca Aboubakare, Assistant Woman's Tennis Coach, Brown University

Marisa's Brown University tennis teammate and friend

"Marisa and the who she was … always will be an integral part of who I am, thereby affecting my own citizenship to humanity. She has left an indelible impression on my life, which is a testimony to her character. Her scrappiness, warmth, but most importantly, her ability to embrace and be engaged with all persons—I wish to reflect each day. It is from her that I learned compassion."

icon-video Watch Bianca's remarks.

saunderDeirdre Saunder, Visual Arts Teacher, Maret School

Marisa's Maret School art teacher and mentor

"Marisa was a teacher's dream, bubbling over with incredible talent, intelligence, enthusiasm and creativity—a truly rare combination. … Marisa was highly gifted. … It was her ability to incorporate emotion and personal reflection that set her apart. … Marisa's combination of artistic talent and endearing personality don't come along often in a teacher's career. I feel blessed to have known her."

icon-video Watch Deirdre's remarks.

rubinTodd Rubin, Fellow, Bazelton Center for Mental Health Law

Close friend of Marisa and the Schonfeld family

"[Marisa had a] comprehensive sense of compassion. She always looked for opportunities to help others in the skills that she was blessed in—tennis, the arts, [and academics]. … She didn't feel as though she had to fulfill some duty. She did so because it was just very much part of who she was. … Another quality that Marisa had was her diligence, … her knack to dig beneath the surface and figure out how things worked, and why they work. … She had an incredible sense of humor, a sophisticated wit that was based on a keen observation of the world around her."

icon-video Watch Todd's remarks.

program-lauraSinger/songwriter and close friend of the Schonfeld family, Laura Tsaggaris (www.lauratsaggaris.com), closed the program with a beautiful selection of songs dedicated to Marisa and the Risa Fund.

icon-video Watch Laura's heartfelt performance.

The Schonfeld family is grateful to the Hillwood Museum for the donation of their lovely space, and to Laura Tsaggaris for the gift of her exceptional talent.

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