By Janice Fabry
Claire Diesen Steinberg
SLICE OF RYE
Claire Diesen Steinberg on Being Part of Something Bigger Than Self
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Soon after putting down roots in Rye, Claire Diesen Steinberg became firmly planted in the world of a nonprofit organization next door. The Carver Center’s mission “to build brighter futures by serving, educating, and empowering families in the community” cultivated a purpose and a passion within her.
“I am incredibly impressed by the scope of what this organization does,” said Steinberg, now Carver board president. “Its programs and services touch so many people across every stage of life and address meaningful challenges the Port Chester community faces, including access to education and professional development, food insecurity, and acculturation issues for our immigrant families.”
Raised in Minnesota, she went to California to attend Stanford University and then onto Harvard for her M.B.A. Subsequently, she became a stock research associate at Morgan Stanley in New York City, where she met her husband, Rafael Steinberg.
In 2012, the year they got married, she and Rafael, whose family investments business required him to travel back and forth to his native Brazil, relocated to South America.
“Rafael was born in Rio de Janeiro and has a large extended family in Brazil. We always felt it would be interesting to live there, and that was the right moment,” explained Claire, who accepted an investor relations position at a Brazilian shopping center development and management company and learned the language.
Two years later, they had a son, Jack, who spent the first year of his life in Ipanema. The Steinbergs speak Portuguese at home, so their little boy, now 4, is fluent.
“I loved our experience there,” recalled Claire. “We enjoyed spending many special occasions with my husband’s family, and I had a fun and interesting job. We were having a great time but made a difficult decision to return to the U.S. in 2015 because of security concerns.”
Claire’s preference was to return to Manhattan, but Raphael had spent most of his childhood in Greenwich, so he wanted to look outside the city. Consequently, on their visit to the States over Passover, they drove around the area.
“When we stumbled upon Loudon Woods, I found it charming and unique and its proximity to town and to Metro-North very appealing,” she remarked. “I thought, if a house comes on the market here, I could be convinced.”
A few months later, the Steinbergs were Rye residents. A year after their move, she received an email from the Harvard Business School Community Partners requesting volunteers for a consulting project to evaluate the Carver Center’s programs.
“I did not know Port Chester well and was unfamiliar with the Carver Center. I Google-mapped Carver and was surprised to discover that I lived just ten minutes away,” said Claire.
Influenced by her background in consulting and her desire to become more involved in her new community, Claire joined fellow alumni and embraced the Harvard Business School project. For four months, the group assessed whether existing program goals aligned with Carver’s overarching mission and developed recommendations for how program performance could be measured.
“Our team had the chance to interact with several stakeholders, as well as to dive into the details of Carver’s programs and services,” she explained. “Not only was it the type of analytical work I enjoy, but I also fell in love with the organization. There was a passion, enthusiasm, and real dedication that our volunteer group, staff and board members shared, and it was contagious.”
When the project ended, she approached Carver’s CEO to learn how she could continue to be involved with the organization. She joined the board in July 2017, and shortly thereafter, was tapped as the next board president. In July 2018, she took on the role herself, never having quite anticipated that the first several months would be “like drinking from a fire hose.”
The timing was such that there were two major roles to fill, that of Carver’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Advancement Officer, which meant two executive searches to enact.
“It was daunting to start my term as board president at that particular moment, but it has been wonderful. I am enjoying working in an environment with a lot of fresh energy and ideas.”
Another initiative of which Claire is proud is the program dashboard that Carver’s program committee is developing. “The program dashboard is a direct extension of the HBS Community Partners project and will serve as an important tool for both management and our board to evaluate each of Carver’s programs against their respective objectives and goals. It strengthens our ability to meet the Port Chester community’s needs,” she explained.
Claire is also working on Carver’s annual benefit to be held April 6 at the Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club. Proceeds from the event fund for a number of programs and services, including the After School Program, Teen Center, Citizenship Program, and the Carver Market, a model self-choice food pantry.
“My involvement with Carver has enhanced my experience living in Rye,” she noted. “It has expanded the way I think of my community, and I have a sense of belonging to something greater.”