Susan Benedetto ’98 and Tony Bennett

In partnership with the NYC Department of Education, in 2001 Susan Benedetto and Tony Bennett opened a new public high school, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, located today in Astoria, Queens. At the same time they co-founded a nonprofit organization, Exploring the Arts (ETA), whose mission is to transform the lives of young people through arts education. Exploring the Arts has grown from serving the Frank Sinatra School in its early years to now serving 14 public high schools located in all five boroughs of New York City, as well as three public high schools in East Los Angeles.

Bay Area native Susan Benedetto received her B.A. in History from Fordham University and her M.A. in Social Studies from Teachers College, where she was also certified and licensed as a NY state teacher. She began her Social Studies teaching career at Manhattan's prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts. Susan later returned to Fordham and in 2005 received another MA, this time in Supervision/Administration. Susan next worked as a Social Studies Teacher and then as Assistant Principal at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, the public high school in Astoria, Queens that she co-founded with her husband. She simultaneously co-founded Exploring the Arts and has remained active today as the organization’s Board President. Before entering the field of education, Susan was the owner of Creative Artists Management in New York, where she advised artists in the management of their careers, along with coordinating publicity, bookings and recording projects. Prior to that, she worked as an administrative assistant with Merrill Lynch, and during her college years was awarded a competitive internship position in the White House's Presidential Advance Office.

Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, Tony Bennett grew up in New York City's borough of Queens during the Great Depression. He was educated at the High School of Industrial Arts and later worked as a singing waiter before his talents were discovered by the famous performer, Bob Hope.  In a career that spans five decades, Tony has won 17 Grammys (including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award) and sold millions of records. He won 

7 Emmy Awards for his television special, "An American Classic," is a Kennedy Center Honoree and an NEA Jazz Master.  Tony was honored by the United Nations with a Citizen of the World Award. Tony has collaborated with k.d. lang, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and many other musical greats. Tony is also an accomplished painter, who has exhibited and sold work internationally. His paintings are part of the permanent collections at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., the National Arts Club in Manhattan, New York, and the Butler Institute of American Art Museum in Youngstown, Ohio. 

The ASCAP Foundation has honored Susan Benedetto and Tony Bennett with The ASCAP Foundation Champion Award for their longtime leadership in the effort to make arts education a priority in the nation's public schools.

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