Optimism Motivates Scheinmans

Giving Back, in Many Ways
Friday, January 6, 2017

Atypical for an arbitrator, Marty Scheinman '75, M.S. ’76 is an ardent optimist.

“I’ve always believed that disputes — no matter how intractable — can be resolved,” said Scheinman, who has arbitrated more than 10,000 cases nationwide and mediated another 5,000 public and private sector disputes in the New York City area.

The resolution of one of those disputes led to the historic nine-year contract for New York City’s largest teachers’ union in 2014.

“The contract not only solved a four-year impasse, but also brought clarity to hundreds of thousands of workers, the city’s finances and relationships between the parties,” said Scheinman, a Cornell trustee and ILR Dean’s Advisory Council member.

As an ILR student, Scheinman learned that disputes are inherent in human relationships and that there are more than two sides to a story — concepts “that inform everything I do in my professional life.”

In gratitude for ILR’s outsized role in his success, Scheinman and Laurie Segal Scheinman, his wife, endowed the Martin and Laurie Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution and the Martin F. Scheinman Scholarship.

Laurie, a family and child therapist, and a board member of the Scheinman Institute, shares her husband’s optimism and passion for civic participation.

Active in cultural, political and LGBTQ causes, the Scheinmans impact many people outside of their professional circles.

In 2012, Laurie opened wit & whim, “the little shop with the big heart,” in Port Washington, Long Island.

Offering a mix of vintage, handmade, fair trade and contemporary items — bowties to handbags, jewelry and toys — the gift shop donates all profits to a different charity each month.

Dozens of local and national organizations benefit from wit & whim philanthropy.

In honor of the shop’s contributions, wit & whim received the national ICON Honors award for community influence from the gift and home industry in July.

The Scheinmans joined four ILR friends (two union lawyers and two management lawyers) to name the Labor Law Reading Room in Catherwood Library.

For their support of numerous initiatives at Cornell’s New York City and Ithaca sites, the Scheinmans were named foremost benefactors in 2014 by David Skorton, then president of the university.