Biographies of Candidates Running for Club Office
The following list of nominees for club leadership positions is compiled from the slate selected by the Nominating Committee (marked NC) and from those who submitted petitions at least two weeks before the January 29 Annual Meeting; that is, before midnight January 15.
Nominees marked (OC) are officer candidates included on the member-at-large ballot. Those elected to officer positions will be removed from the member-at-large ballot.
The name of any candidate nominated on a petition presented to me less than two weeks before the Annual Meeting (after January 15), will be hand-written by members on their ballots at the Annual Meeting (in last-name alphabetical order.) Since January 16, none have been submitted to me. Additional nominations with ten seconds for at-large members of the Executive Committee may be made from the floor of the Annual Meeting, and will be hand-written by members on their ballots.
The list below of leadership positions and nominees is followed by a compilation of their brief biographies and statements. The nominee list and the compilation of biographies and statements are also being posted on the club website. Copies of the compilation also will be available at the Annual Meeting. Nominees whose biographies and statements are not included in this compilation may have their material available for distribution at the Annual Meeting.
Michael Heller (NC)
Bruce Feld (NC)
Heidi Schwartz (NC)
Aaron Stayman (NC)
Helen Krim (NC)
Ivan “Duffy” Nedds (NC)
Robin Weinstein (NC)
Lisa Amowitz (NC)
Ira Bigeleisen (NC)
Ellen Chapnick (OC)
Delores Dixon (NC)
Paul Ellis (NC)
Morgan Evers (NC) (OC)
Ellen Feld (NC) (OC)
Mitzie Finley (NC)
Michael Friedman (NC)
Martin Galvin (NC)
Joe Gordon (NC)
Daniel Johnson (NC)
Betsey Knapp (NC)
Jerald Kreppel (NC)
Sylvia Lask (NC)
John “Jack” Marth
Andrew Mutnick (NC)
Dan Padernacht (NC) (OC)
Daniel Ranells (OC)
Aaron Stayman (OC)
Dale Wolff (OC)
LISA AMOWITZ I have lived in Riverdale for the past 29 years and raised my family here. I’ve been a graphic design professor at Bronx Community College since 1997, and am currently Director of Digital Arts, The author of three young adult novels, I have designed over 50 book covers, and design graphics for various political entities and candidates. The most valuable skill I bring to the Club is my professional design abilities. I hope to create graphics that will publicize GOTV initiatives and mobilize the community to get Democrats elected and make a Trump one term president.
RAQUEL BATISTA is an attorney and parent member of the PS 24 School Leadership Team. She worked with immigrant DV survivors as Fellow at CUNY Law School, on behalf of Latinxs at the NYC Mayor's Office, as Executive Director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, litigated civil rights at Latino Justice and is an adjunct assistant professor at Manhattan College. Raquel co-founded the Latina Political Action Committee and has served on many boards. El Diario La Prensa, NY State Senate and Dominican Women’s Development Center all honored her. Raquel is eager to bring her experience to the Executive Committee.
IRA BIGELEISEN – Member-at-Large since 2017 I moved to Riverdale in 2016, and immediately joined the BFRDC. I have petitioned, phone banked and canvassed. I have given money to the club and raised money for ads in the journal. As Chairperson of the Program Committee, I have arranged for speakers at meetings. I am active in NW Bronx Indivisible. I arranged for the BFRDC to partner with NW Bronx Indivisible on a Swing Left letter writing campaign. In 2020, I will for the club’s endorsed candidates, and then to help Democrats take the White House and the Senate.
ELLEN CHAPNICK repositioned from being Dean for Social Justice Initiatives at Columbia Law School in 2017 to become more directly involved in grassroots politics and fighting Trump. She then became a member of the BFRDC’s Bylaws Review Committee and an endorsed candidate for Alternate Judicial Delegate; a Steering Committee member of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition’s Community Land Trust project; and a member of the Riverdale Huddle. She was President of both Bronx Legal Services and the Center for Constitutional Rights. As Vice President, Ellen would use her experience and skills to help develop inclusive, democratic and transparent Club Bylaws and practices, present educational programs about important issues, and build the alliances necessary to elect Democrats at the national, state and local levels.
COURTNEY DASTIS-GALVIN has been a club member for 3 years. She currently serves on the Bronx Democratic County Committee. Professionally, Courtney leads strategy and marketing for a national education nonprofit organization with a mission to drive equity in our public schools. Courtney also volunteers as a trauma-informed yoga and meditation teacher through the Children’s Aid Society. She is passionate about environmental justice and local sustainability efforts to fight climate change. Courtney recently completed the Developing Nonprofit Leaders Program at Columbia University and she is eager to leverage her skills to support the great work of BFRDC.
DELORES (DEE) DIXON began her notable career as a child organist in her Harlem church. She graduated the High School of Performing Arts (classical piano and cello), graduated City College, and became vocalist of the folk trio New World Singers touring the South with SNCC on programs with Martin Luther King, Jr. Employment director of HARYOU-ACT. She was a music education teacher for 35 years, offered teacher workshops and Head Start classes. Worked with handicapped organizations, NYC Mission Society, USO, and member of NAACP, NY Coalition 100 Black Women, SAG-AFTRA, Actor’s Equity. Longtime club member serving on the executive committee.
PAUL ELLIS I have been a club member since 2009, having served as Vice President, Executive Committee member and Bylaws Committee Co-Chair. I am a member of Community Board 8, having served as Vice Chair of CB8 and as Chair of the CB8 Housing Committee, where I focused on critical housing issues facing our community, especially in the NYCHA developments. I am managing partner of the Paul Ellis Law Group, an 8-person Midtown Manhattan law firm. I look forward to working with all the club members, old and new, to make the club an active force in this critical election year.
MORGAN GRANT EVERS is currently Member-at-Large and Technology Committee Co-Chair, collaborated on the modernization of the Club’s website, enabling efficient online application and dues processing. Morgan deepened relationships between and built a greater sense of community among Club members by hosting seven debate-watching events and programming issue-focused enrichment for our Pride month meeting. A veteran elementary school teacher and Co-Chair of the PS24 Special Education Committee, Morgan has the essential skills to run participatory meetings, honor multiple perspectives and build consensus in diverse groups. She believes the BFRDC will be stronger by fully engaging and sharing the work of the Club more broadly with an energized volunteer base, while striving to be the center of activity for the greatest number of local Democrats, welcoming all.
NICHOLAS FAZIO has built a successful business, taught at a local university, and been a volunteer and activist in his community, including as a consultant for start-up businesses, a mentor for military veterans, and collaborator with non-profits on research and fundraising. He is a member of Community Board 8 and its Economic Development and Education Committees, the Northwest Bronx Indivisible Steering Committee, a career advisor and mentor with American Corporate Partners, and the VP of Public Relations for the Riverdale Bronx Toastmasters Club. Nick would be thrilled to contribute to the collaborative efforts of the BFRDC as a Member-at-Large.
BRUCE FELD holds degrees in political science from University of Miami, Rutgers University, and Columbia University; former fellow of Eagleton Institute of Politics, Herbert Lehman Fellow. Former faculty and associate dean of Barnard College, staff U. S. Senate and Democratic National Committee, head of NYC Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit (CAU). Former board member and officer of Lehman Performing Arts Center. Current president and CEO of not-for-profit, non-sectarian Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In this 81st assembly district, Democratic State Committeeman for 10 years, followed by 10 years as Democratic District Leader. Active club member for 30 years. In 2017 club president; currently first vice president, parliamentarian, and co-chair of bylaws committee. He believes Democrats and Americans face the most profound political challenge of his lifetime.
ELLEN FELD is a 40-year club member, its president four separate times, and a member of the club’s executive committee for decades. Former staff of the U.S. Senate, the Democratic National Committee (in the then-Office of Women’s Activities), the American Jewish Committee, the Boston U. Human Relations Lab, and NY State Assembly. Currently and for 35 years a Riverdale real estate broker. Awarded Realtor of the Year and former president Bronx Manhattan-North Association of Realtors. Ellen has lived, worked, and been active in our community for over 50 years. “For 60 years, our club has represented liberal and progressive Democratic principles and practices. I’m proud to have been part of that story. I hope to continue to play a role in its leadership.”
MITZIE FINLEY, a CPA, worked in NYC Social Services for over 35 years. Active in local DC37 pension and political action committees, served as secretary, sergeant-at-arms, served on candidate screening board, chaired NYC validation test board, and leader of dress-for-success program for 300-400 young women, for which she received numerous HRA awards; visits at-home ill and shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes through church eucharistic ministry. Accountancy degree from NYC Technical College and BS from Mercy College. As a 20-year club member, dependable petitioner, and county committee member. If elected, this would be her second year on the executive committee.
MICHAEL FRIEDMAN- I have been a Reform Democrat since the early 1970’s and have always been committed to progressive politics. Service has been a part of my life and I have been a special education teacher since 1979. I am proud of the work I have done with my students. I teach in an alternative education program for young adults who work to obtain their high school equivalency exam. I am the union representative for a program that has 80 sites in all five boroughs. I am running for reelection as an executive committee member and hope to continue in that role.
MARTIN GALVIN is from Kingsbridge and has also lived in Riverdale and Woodlawn. A graduate of Manhattan College and Notre Dame Law School, he served as an A.D.A in the Bronx, and as a court attorney to Judge Carmen Ciparick, Court of Appeals, and Bronx Supreme Court, Criminal Division. He was also an adjunct professor at Manhattan College. As a club member for 8 years, he has petitioned, attended club meetings and fundraisers. He served on the community board for several years, and currently is Legal Counsel to the Woodlawn Taxpayers Association. He also coaches local students for the mock trial competition.
ANNEMARIE GOLDEN has lived in Riverdale/ Kingsbridge for 64 years. In 2014, she retired as a Management Analyst with the NYS Court System, where her final post was at the Human Resources office for NYC Civil Court Citywide. Annemarie was elected P.T.A. Treasurer and then President of the Bronx New School and subsequently P.T.A. President of Jonas Bronck Academy. She carried petitions for BFRDC-endorsed candidates and volunteered on the Alessandra Biaggi campaign. Annemarie’s proven ability to problem solve and work with varied personalities in her employment and elected volunteer positions will be an asset to the BFRDC Executive Committee.
JOE GORDON has a long, varied, and rich career as an engineer. Chief engineer for Bulova and Timex watch companies, helped develop the first digital instruments for commercial aircraft, was in charge of critical components of 747 maintenance worldwide, worked on licensing programs at NOAA and NRC, been a technical consultant for the NYC Board of Elections. Teamed with his late wife Judy Sonett, Joe secured record numbers of petition signatures, journal ads, and anything else needed for the club. He continues in these endeavors. Former staff member for Oliver Koppell, his political goals are club unity and defeating Trump.
MICHAEL HELLER has a life-long passion for public service and democratic party politics. President of the BFRDC, he has held every executive position over his 40-year membership. Dating back to high-school, he has volunteered in countless campaigns. Holding degrees from Columbia University, he has an extensive career in public affairs, community/government relations at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jacobi/NCBH, Maimonides MC, St. Joseph’s RMC, and the NYCTA. Mr. Heller, former district manager of Bronx CB 8 and chair of the Traffic and Transportation Committee, donates time to locally-based organizations as a board member for BronxNet, Association of Riverdale Co-ops/Condominiums, and Friends of the Hudson River Greenway. He looks forward to another year of leadership, electing democrats and retiring President Trump.
PATRICK HILL was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and lived there all the way up until college. He attended Manhattan College where his Uncle, Father George Hill, was Chaplain. Patrick has been a resident of the Kingsbridge area for around 6 years. In addition to being a resident, Patrick has worked as a constituent services liaison for a multitude of elected officials for areas throughout the Bronx and most recently has working for Council Member Andrew Cohen right here in the Northwest Bronx. Furthermore, he has experience with organizing canvasses in order to campaign for various elected official’s candidacies.
DANIEL JOHNSON has been a Club member for over 10 years serving in various capacities, including Executive Committee Member At-Large, President, and currently as Vice President. Additionally, Dan has successfully organized campaign activities for the club for many years. He has served our community as a staff member for Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and former Chief of Staff to Council Member Andrew Cohen. Dan currently serves as the Political Director for the Bronx Democratic Party. A community resident for 15 years, he resides in Kingsbridge with his wife Kim, a teacher at MS/HS 141, and their dog Jasper.
BETSEY KNAPP has been a member of the BFRDC for 3 years and in 2018, was elected Recording Secretary and served on the Executive Committee for the past year. She is passionate about promoting the Democratic party and supporting women to run for office. A lifelong Democrat, she volunteered for Hillary for America’s national phone bank and co-founded NW Bronx Indivisible. Betsey was a neighborhood leader for the Biaggi campaign for NY State Senate and started its Riverdale phone bank in her own home and continued to lead it to a successful win.