Cynthia Zirinsky is the first recipient of LiLY’s Lifelong Hero Award, a new award that will be presented to amazing people who are over 85, and who don’t know what the word retirement means! Cynthia Zirinsky is such a person. Born in 1928, she has a long history of making change in the lives of many.
In 1959, Cynthia and her husband, Richard Zirinsky, a commercial real estate developer, founded Gracie Square Hospital as a private psychiatric hospital in New York City. For over thirty years, as Vice President and Director of Community Relations, Cynthia helped build Gracie Square Hospital into a 220-bed facility that served individuals and their families with high quality and compassionate care. Innovative programs brought light to new areas in mental health services, such as eating disorders and dual diagnoses.
Gracie Square became a fixture in the community and provided a meeting place for community organizations, support groups, and professional development activities. The hospital was a hub of activity and education for public officials, visiting doctors, and academics, national and international. In 1992, the highly regarded upper east side Manhattan facility, which provides multidisciplinary inpatient care to patients with psychiatric disorders, became part of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System. Cynthia continues to serve as Trustee Emeritus.
Cynthia has focused her philanthropy and community service on the mental health movement for many decades. She served as President of the Queens County Mental Health Society and was a New York State Legislative Committee Chairwoman, mental health advisor, and advocate. Her philanthropic achievements include the establishment of the Richard and Cynthia Zirinsky Center for Bipolar Disorder at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, where people with bipolar disorder and their families receive treatment and support. She has been an ardent supporter of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Medical Center, Head and Neck Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center, and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Cynthia has served on several not-for-profit Boards of Directors, including the Mental Health Association of New York City, from which she received tribute for her lifetime dedication at their 2017 gala, and Community Access, Inc.
Cynthia Zirinsky’s LiLY Lifelong Hero Award will be presented by her daughter, Susan Zirinsky, President of CBS News. The accomplished apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.