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Friends of Karen Announces New Board President

Friends of Karen Announces New Board President

Based in North Salem, nonprofit supports children with life-threatening illnesses

Richard Sgaglio

North Salem, NY – March 30, 2022: Friends of Karen, a nonprofit organization that supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, announced Richard Sgaglio will serve as the new President of its Board of Directors. Outgoing President Paul Smadbeck, known for his dedication to the organization for 26 years, will continue to serve on the Board.

Friends of Karen provides emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with life-threatening illnesses to help keep their families stable and functioning. Founded in North Salem, Friends of Karen now serves families throughout the New York Metropolitan area. The organization is led by longtime Executive Director Judy Factor, who also works closely with volunteers in the community.

Paul Smadbeck, a longtime resident of North Salem and Managing Director at JLL, a major commercial real estate professional services company, began volunteering with Friends of Karen in 1996. He has served on the Board of Directors since 2006 and was its President for the past six years. On March 28 Smadbeck turned over the reins of President to North Salem resident Richard Sgaglio, who is Vice President of Marketing and Development at The Osborn in Rye, NY.

Smadbeck’s tenure on the Board has been filled with notable accomplishments. “The greatest reward has been working in concert with the Friends of Karen professionals to touch the lives of families in need,” he says. “I’d like to think I gave my best as a partner to our Executive Director Judy Factor. If she has felt unwavering support from the Board, I would consider that my greatest accomplishment.”

Factor confirms that “Paul has been a wonderful, supportive, proactive Board president who helped Friends of Karen during both good and challenging times. His direction and leadership were vital during the recent pandemic, which impacted all we do, from supporting families to conducting day-to-day business and fundraising.”

New Board of Directors President Richard Sgaglio says he is honored to have been chosen to succeed Paul. “He’s been a mentor and a role model for me and the rest of the Board, so I have large shoes to fill. I look forward to serving and building on Paul’s success for the benefit of this organization.”

Asked about goals for his term as President, Sgaglio says he “…hopes to continue guiding Friends of Karen through the many challenges ahead; emerging from the pandemic is just one of them. Along with our 18-member Board and dedicated staff headed by Judy Factor, we’re well-positioned to continue Sheila Petersen’s legacy. Our first priority will always be helping families with critically ill children, so they can focus on treatment and not worry about finances.”

Friends of Karen began in 1978 when North Salem resident Sheila Petersen reached out to a neighborhood family whose child, Karen MacInnes, suffered from a rare, terminal disease. Petersen’s legacy has endured over the past 44 years, assisting more than 17,000 children and their families living in the New York tri-state area with basic needs, care management and social work services. The work is performed by a caring staff that includes a team of licensed social workers, child life specialists and creative arts therapists who help families navigate the healthcare system and the financial and emotional challenges of having a critically ill child.

Other officers recently re-elected to the Board include Laura Salerno Evans (Vice President) of New York City, Sharon Weiner (Secretary) of Pound Ridge and Tom Jocelyn (Treasurer) of Yorktown Heights. For more information about the work of Friends of Karen, please visit