2011 Best of Brooklyn: Martin D. Sass, '63

Martin D. Sass ’63 thought he’d hit the jackpot when he landed a job with Ira Haupt & Co. shortly after graduating from Brooklyn College. For the young accountant from Crown Heights, a steady paycheck and a foot in the door with the Wall Street brokerage firm were the first steps toward financial stability he and his new bride had been seeking. Little did he know that only a few short weeks later a huge scandal--the Salad Oil Scandal of 1963--would topple his employer and land him on the street.

But as he has proven throughout his five-decade career, Martin Sass is always prepared for a challenge. Ten years later, after founding his company M.D. Sass Investors Services in 1972, his keen determination coupled with exceptional financial acumen enabled his brand new firm to weather the economic downturn of 1973, among the worst on record.

Today, M.D. Sass is one of the world’s leading independent investment firms, managing more than $7 billion in assets for global corporations, state and local governments, and individual investors, among others.

At Brooklyn College Night on May 5, the Brooklyn College Foundation honored Martin Sass with its 2011 Best of Brooklyn Award in recognition of his notable success and tremendous generosity—not only do Martin and his wife Barbara ’63 give generously to Brooklyn College, they founded the Sass Foundation for Medical Research and support other important causes.

Hundreds of alumni and friends attended the event at Steiner Studios, which began with a cocktail reception and remarks from President Karen L. Gould, Vice President Andrew Sillen, '74 and Barry Feirstein, '74 chair of the Brooklyn College Foundation.

Over dinner, guests engaged in conversation with distinguished hosts on a variety of topics: writing for young adults with Sara Shepard ’05, author of Pretty Little Liars; a gastronomic tour of Brooklyn with Annie Hauck-Lawson ’78, co-editor of Gastropolis: Food and New York City; and whether the current economic crisis might look different had there been more women on the boards of financial services companies, with Marge Magner ’69.

While leading a conversation about the Brooklyn College Library’s Hank Kaplan Boxing Archive, Anthony Cucchiara, head of special collections, passed around a cloth napkin with a hand-drawn sketch by Muhammad Ali, a treasure recently uncovered in the archive.

More than $425,000 was raised at Brooklyn College Night 2011 to support academic programs, student scholarships, faculty development, and other college priorities. Plans are already underway for next year’s event.


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