Leah Mitchell Memorial Fund

Leah Mitchell—her work, her family, her spirit—touched so many lives in Staten Island and at Snug Harbor. Her legacy lives on through her dance school Ballet Imagination and in the minds, hearts, and artistry of generations of dancers and their families. Her passion for the arts inspired so many, and her untimely passing in December 2019 left a tragic hole in our community. We are proud to honor her memory and legacy with the new Leah Mitchell Memorial Fund.

Donate to the Leah Mitchell Memorial Fund

Photo credit for all images: Noel Sutherland

This year, Snug Harbor had planned to honor Leah’s work and memory at the 37th Annual Neptune Ball with the Neptune Award for the Arts. It is with a heavy heart that we had to cancel this year’s gala due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the lasting and beautiful legacy that Leah Mitchell left behind remains as strong as ever. This award was the first honor established for Neptune Ball in 1986, recognizing outstanding contributions in the arts and arts preservation. With the support of her husband Neil Mitchell, who was meant to accept the award on her behalf, the Leah Mitchell Memorial Fund will honor her devotion to the arts by renovating and naming the Leah Mitchell Memorial Dance Studio in her memory.

If Leah Mitchell has touched your life, or if you share a similar passion for the arts—especially dance—please help Snug Harbor meet our $10,000 goal.

$10 – These dancers need their audience! Your gift will help purchase new folding chairs and benches for recitals and performances.

$25 – Safety first! This contribution purchases new window guards, pole pads, and reinforcements for barres and flooring.

$50 – Lights, camera, action! Your donation purchases all lighting and sound equipment, upgrades, and fixtures. Our dancers deserve their spotlight!

$100 – Paint the studio. These dancers need a new, clean canvas to display their art, too. Gifts of $100+ will be listed on a special donor plaque at the studio.

$250 – Support the Snug Harbor Arts Team in their endeavors to make the dance studios a destination.

$500 – Develop a sense of place for all who visit the dance studios. This donation provides new signage for the studios, improving wayfinding and informing visitors of the tremendous impact that Leah Mitchell had on generations of Staten Island dancers.

Gifts of any size in Leah’s memory are welcome, and all donors will be recognized on this tribute page below. You can also make a lasting commitment to the upkeep of the dance center and dance arts at Snug Harbor with a recurring donation (make sure to write Leah Mitchell’s name in the honor/memory field.) All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Checks can be made out to Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden and mailed to:

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
1000 Richmond Terrace, Building P
Staten Island, NY 10301

For questions, please contact Martha Neighbors, Vice President of Development and External Affairs at mneighbors@snug-harbor.org or 718-425-3505.

Support the Leah Mitchell Memorial Fund today

UPDATE: We’ve raised $11,200 towards our $10,000 goal. Thank you to everyone for your generous support!

Messages from friends and loved ones:

“I grew up in dance studios, and I am so happy that Snug Harbor will honor Leah’s creativity and leadership with this renaming dedication.” – Annette Kudrak

“That laugh, that smile, that spirit, just looking at these photos brings it all back. I hope there will many photos of Leah in the studio, they will brighten the room on the stormiest of days.” – Jack Turner and Molly Barton

“Leah will always be an inspirational figure to our family.” – The Paone Family

“Your legacy lives on in your wonderful children, and who were fortunate to know and love you, and to so many others who will benefit from the Leah Mitchell Memorial Dance Studio” – Fran and Dennis Brown

“In memory of my fabulous friend.” – Bette Allen

“Leah, you made the world a better place.” – Sylvie Blaustein

“Emma’s Place proudly donates in support of the Leah Mitchell Memorial Fund.” – Karen Goldman

“For Joyce and Ira and the entire family.” – Martha Neighbors

“This is a wonderful program inspiring young children to dance!” – Adriana and Aaron Feo

“In honor of Leah Mitchell’s endless creativity, may her spirit live on through dancing stars.” – Adele Myers and Seth Dodds

“Donated in memory of Leah Mitchell. ‘Dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.'” – Melissa R. Ferrari

“Thank you for this opportunity to support a beautiful soul and mission.” – Phyllis Forman

“With love, Jane & Margaret” Jane Dubin & Margaret Liston

“What a wonderful way to remember our talented and unique Leah.” – Susan L Wilson and Matt Rocchio

“Leah’s spirit and legacy will live on through everyone she’s touched. She’s taught and mentored so many sharing her creativity and talent. Thinking of you always, Leah.” – Valerie Cortier

“Leah brought the joy of dance to little kids and her talent and nature touched many lives for the better.” – Kaitlyn Walsh

“We are happy to participate in honoring Leah’s work and memory in this way.” – Robert W. F. & Derek McNally

“To my beautiful sister. You are deeply missed.” – Marian Fontana

“In loving memory of Leah.” – Rosemarie Mazzocchi

“We will always be grateful for the love of dance, and confidence, Leah fostered in Talia.” – Talia Neravanda Astman

“Congratulations on starting the Leah Mitchell Memorial Fund. I loved seeing all of the photos of Leah with her students. It warmed my heart.” – Barbara Bedick

“We wish to honor Leah’s memory and her beautiful and creative spirit.” – Nancy and Christopher Benbow

“‘Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.’ – Martha Graham” – Arija Bareikis and Denman Tuzo

“Leah’s talent and love of dance lives on in the next generation.” – Ellen Icolari

“Leah was such a force in our community and in our dance and arts world and we miss her every single day.” – Theo Dorian and Michael Harwood

“Mia was a student of Mrs. Leah. Mia enjoyed class with her and continues to love ballet!” – Anamaria Rodriguez Dunleavy and Mia C. Dunleavy

“Leah was a gift in our lives and we miss her and remember her always.” – Jenny and Ruby Lytton-Hirsch

“Brilliant Dance Studio in Leah’s Name ~ Her smile, strong graceful body, her sweetest laugh and her kind soul will be remembered always. Love to Ira&Joyce, Marian&Luke.” – Gail and Paul Graf

“To Our Most Beautiful Neighborhood.” – Jessica & Jennifer Balduzzi

“May Leah’s legacy dance on!” – Cathy & Peter Brown

“In honor of Leah, her family always in our heart, her creativity always flowing through us, her fire everlasting.” – The Torchia Family

Thank you to our generous donors:

  • Kate Abramson
  • Bette Allen
  • Anonymous donor
  • Talia Neravanda Astman
  • The Aviles Family
  • Jessica & Jennifer Balduzzi
  • Arija Bareikis and Denman Tuzo
  • The Barkov Family
  • The Baxter Family
  • Barbara Bedick
  • Nancy and Christopher Benbow
  • Sylvie Blaustein
  • Sanchie Bobrow
  • Fran and Dennis Brown
  • Cathy & Peter Brown
  • Maureen and Ray Campbell
  • Cecile Chong
  • Valerie Cortier
  • Theo Dorian and Michael Harwood
  • Jane Dubin & Margaret Liston
  • Mia C. Dunleavy
  • Bernadette Elliott
  • The Fassrainer Family
  • Adriana and Aaron Feo
  • Melissa R. Ferrari
  • Stella Fiore
  • Marian Fontana
  • Phyllis Forman
  • The Fuchs Family
  • Tom & Sara Gardner
  • Espen Giljane
  • Karen Goldman and Emma’s Place – Staten Island Grief and Loss Center for Children and Families
  • Susan Grabel & George Rappaport
  • Gail and Paul Graf
  • Julia Gruen
  • David Hodgson & Amanda Moreau
  • Ellen Icolari
  • Kate James, Steve Waltien
  • Beth Kingston
  • Annette Kudrak
  • Jenny and Ruby Lytton-Hirsch
  • Rosemarie Mazzocchi
  • Deb McCole & John Hagemann
  • Kevin and Rachel McKinley
  • Robert W. F. & Derek McNally
  • Caren Messing and John Piccolo
  • Craig Mitchell
  • Jean Mitchell
  • Angela Mitchell and Josh Wilson
  • Mark and Lynn Mitchell
  • Neil Mitchell, Gilby Mitchell, and Esme Mitchell
  • Adele Myers and Seth Dodds
  • Martha Neighbors & Charles Boday
  • Cookie Newgarden and Carli Hitchcock
  • Kevin Norton
  • The Paone Family
  • Mr. & Mrs. Gerard and Fran Rizzo
  • Dr. Jim Romano and Nancy Steen
  • Frank Saya & Andrea Anderson
  • Scarlett + Sebastian
  • Susan Moran Sheehy
  • Peter and Brigette Smith
  • Phoebe Torchia, Liam Torchia, Logan Torchia, Dacia Washington
  • Tiffany A. Traina & family
  • Jack Turner and Molly Barton
  • Rufus Puppybody Underfoot
  • Kristin Wallace & Tom Ferrie, Maker Park Radio
  • Kaitlyn Walsh
  • Antoinette West
  • Cathryn Williams and Mitchell McGuire
  • Susan L Wilson and Matt Rocchio