Championing the Underdog – and Now, Einstein’s Students: Suzanne Fried, MD ’64 Establishes Scholarship Fund with Blended Gift

Suzanne (Sue) Fried, MD ’64 was just 12 when her father died, but seven decades later, her eyes still well up when she talks about him.

“He was an amazing man. He’d come from Ukraine and gone to university and then medical school at NYU, where he was second in his class. He refused to serve in the Army in World War II, so he was assigned to the Veterans Administration, and we lived all over the place — New York, Texas, Kentucky.”

Her father’s death left Dr. Fried, who had no siblings and few relatives, with a “need to belong, which has been with me ever since,” and a profound determination to carry on his work. “I’m drawn to the underdog, and I think I got that from him,” she says. “For me, doing what you can to help is the most important thing. I don’t care about money. If I have enough to live decently, that’s enough.”

She enrolled at Einstein in 1960, just four years after the institution opened its doors.

Dr. Fried especially loved Einstein’s sense of community. She found a place where she felt she belonged.

“It was such a wonderful school – we had contact with our professors, everyone was friendly,” she recalls. Perhaps most importantly, a mentor — Joseph Hirsch, the college’s first assistant dean for student affairs, who died in 2000 — encouraged her idealistic streak.

Suzanne Fried Black and White photo

“Joe suggested that I spend time in Mexico and Central America. He suggested a program sponsored by LSU, which was a great fit.” She loved learning about other cultures, public health and working, for example, with children who had kwashiorkor, a severe form of malnutrition.

“I loved it,” Dr. Fried reflected while recalling this rewarding and transformational experience.

Dr. Fried ultimately chose to pursue a career in psychiatry, but throughout her long career, she approached her work with the same passionate sense of empathy, focusing on patients with the most severe mental illness, often from underserved communities. In San Francisco, where she completed her residency, she led the creation of a social rehabilitation center for chronically ill patients who “were never going to get fully better but needed a place to be instead of a hospital.”

Subsequently, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work in the White House’s Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention for her friend, the psychiatrist and former Einstein faculty member Jerome Jaffe, an early advocate of methadone treatment for heroin addicts. And in Israel, where she ultimately lived for 25 years, she worked for a time in a mental hospital just outside of Jerusalem, as well as with students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“Thought disorder is particularly fascinating to me — the inability of people with mental illness to articulate their thoughts logically, the need to understand and translate for them, and to help them understand themselves drove me and my work,” she says.

It was also in Israel that Dr. Fried truly found her community.

“I initially went there on business when I was working in Washington,” she recalls. “Israel was very appealing, especially coming from the atmosphere of the Nixon White House, where there was so much paranoia. Life was much simpler – people were doing what they needed to do to survive. There was a family I became very close with. And even though I’m not religious, I found that there’s more to being Jewish than just religion.”

Towards the end of her medical career, Dr. Fried served as a locum tenens, or “rent-a-doc,” during extended trips back to the United States. One assignment took her to Salinas, California, where she worked on the psychiatric unit of the general hospital. She returned numerous times.

“If I’d been younger, I would have taken the permanent job there,” she says. She reflected on the immigrant experience, which she witnessed first-hand in many of her clients. Many were from Mexico — some here illegally — who worked hard to improve their lives. She described the progression, recalling, “as they made it economically,” they would move into small houses, and in some cases eventually into local government roles. “The staff were really knowledgeable about the community, and I just loved working with these people.”

For the past three years, Dr. Fried has lived in Rochester, New York, near a cousin from her father’s side of the family. Recently, through a philanthropic contribution she established a scholarship for Einstein students.

“Some people bond with their undergraduate institutions, but for me, the real bonding was at Einstein,” she says. “People were good to me, I enjoyed my time there so much, and I benefited from a scholarship myself. Without it, I would have had a hard time paying tuition — it was just my mom and me by then, and she was a teacher, so we didn’t have much money.”

Dr. Fried made her gift at an especially opportune time, as the impact of the Suzanne R. Fried M.D. Fund will be doubled. Her gift qualifies for an ongoing, one-to-one match established by an anonymous donor who endowed $5 million to match donations ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 for need-based scholarships.

Dr. Fried’s generosity doesn’t end there. She established the scholarship with a blended gift, so her initial contribution will be paired with a bequest, which will further enrich her legacy at Einstein, making an even bigger impact for generations of future students.

By making a planned gift that will benefit the College of Medicine, Dr. Fried is now also an inaugural member of the Albert Einstein Legacy Society, which celebrates individuals — alumni, faculty, staff, and friends — who wish to advance the College of Medicine’s mission through a legacy gift in their estate plans.

“I feel a sense of obligation to give back as much as I can,” Dr. Fried says.

Learn more about the Albert Einstein Legacy Society
Legacy gifts honor Einstein’s history of medical education and research and help ensure its future prosperity. These planned gifts – which can be established in a variety of ways, such as a gift in your will, IRA charitable rollover, life insurance beneficiary designation, charitable remainder trusts, or a securities transfer – also offer potential financial and tax benefits to you and your family. If Einstein is already a part of your plans, please let us know so you can receive your Albert Einstein Legacy Society welcome letter.

If you would like to speak to someone about creating a plan that best serves your philanthropic goals, contact Michael Divers, Planned Giving Officer, at 718-430-2685 or

Learn more about Named Scholarships
Alumni can directly support Einstein students for generations to come by establishing a named scholarship. This year, named scholarships can be created with a gift of $50,000 or more, payable over a period of up to five years. Your gift of up to $250,000 will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor – doubling the impact of your endowed scholarship. For more information about the match or creating a scholarship in your name or in honor of a loved one, you can contact Min Um-Mandhyan at 718-430-4171 or