December 31, 1980- July 6, 2002
ABOUT THE RUSSELL FERBER FOUNDATION
On July 6, 2002, Russell Ferber tragically died in a car accident at the age of 21, just as he was about to graduate with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. A year later, The Russell Ferber Foundation was founded to provide a living
legacy – funding programs that assist young people who lack the financial resources to successfully
follow a path that parallels aspects of Russell’s too short life. To date, the Foundation has focused on
C-CAP, Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP): The Foundation has established The
Russell Ferber Memorial Scholarship through C-CAP, a non-profit organization which has created
professional culinary education programs in inner-city high schools. In six venues across the country,
C-CAP develops curriculum, provides teacher training, secures equipment and outfits classrooms into
working kitchens, while simultaneously arranging internships with top restaurants. C-CAP students
participate in a fiercely competitive process for scholarships. One of the highest awards granted in
New York is The Russell Ferber Memorial Scholarship, a full scholarship in the Baking and Pastry
Arts Program at the CIA. Our first scholar, Dominique Campbell graduated in 2006, worked at
Walt Disney World, returned to the CIA for her BA degree (’09) and works as lead pastry chef at
Citifield. Melissa Montalbano (now Falgiano) graduated in ’08, worked at Olana in New York City
and, in addition to spending time with her three sons, has a private cake baking business. Santo
Saitta graduated in April ’10, worked at Pasticceria Bruno and at Boulud Sud. He competed in the
Junior Pastry World Cup in Rimini, Italy, finishing fifth in the world! He currently runs Patrizia
Restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey and is the proud father of two. Jessie Kuznitz graduated in
January 2014, continued at the CIA to complete her B.A., graduated Summa cum Laude and worked
at Maison Kayser until she injured her back and, unfortunately, is still unable to work. Sara
Montesdeoca had a baby girl in December ’22 and is working at private events. Nicole Carlini
graduated in 2018, worked at Dominique Ansel Bakery (think cronut!) and is currently working at
Hudson Valley Fois Gras. Jahqyad Austin graduated in December 2020. Earned a prestigious
fellowship at the James Beard Foundation and is working at his ongoing business, Jahqyad’s Twist.
Leslie Villava graduated from the CIA in December ’22 and is part of the Pastry team at Le Rock in
Rockefeller Center. Reese Orakwue is currently enrolled at the CIA.
Culinary Institute of America (CIA): The Foundation is thrilled that the Russell Ferber
Scholarship at the CIA is endowed! The Foundation continues to donate funds for an annual stipend
to students who complete their externship obligations with the highest rating for professionalism, a
quality very much respected by Russell, and the hallmark of his approach to culinary activities.
Village Community School (VCS): Village Community School, Russell’s wondrous K-8 school,
was unable to provide the support needed for students like Russell with distinct learning disabilities.
VCS' Russell Ferber Memorial Fund has been an important resource in helping students with
learning differences in their struggle to succeed, funding educational and psychological evaluations,
language therapy, outside tutoring, additional part-time teacher work and support in confronting the
language and writing skills needed to transition to high school. A number of students have been
helped immeasurably by the Fund.