Our club leadership is happy to welcome you! Please join one of our meetings and let us get to know you.
President- Virginia Krompinger
Virginia Krompinger resides in Spuyten Duyvil with her husband Scott and two pugs, Friday and Pepp. For 20 years, Virginia has worked in risk and compliance roles providing services to financial institutions, including regulatory risk and anti-financial crime advisory support. She is a graduate of John Jay College, Seton Hall Law School, and is admitted to the New York Bar. In her free time, Virginia enjoys participating in various unpaid opportunities. Between 2006 and 2008, Virginia participated in a program sponsored by the Harlem Children's Zone teaching elementary school children financial literacy. After that, she had the privilege of serving as a mentor to a high school student as part of the NYC the iMentor program. From 2010 to 2016, Virginia was an active member of Curly Tail Pug Rescue and spent that time fostering dogs, conducting background interviews with potential adoptive families, and providing social media support. She also volunteered over the years with various organizations cooking and serving food in homeless shelters. From 2017 to 2021 Virginia served as a Board member of a cooperative in Woodlawn where her sister lives and is a cooperator. She was elected to serve as an Alternate Judicial Delegate to the Democratic Judicial Convention in August 2021. Prior to her current role, Virginia served on the Executive Committee of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club and co-chaired the 2021 Fundraising Committee.
Vice President - Bruce Feld
Former faculty member and associate dean of the faculty of Barnard College. Former staff member of the U. S. Senate and the Democratic National Committee, deputy director and director of the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit (CAU) 1978-1990. Holds degrees in political science from the University of Miami, Rutgers University, and Columbia University; former Fellow of the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Former board member and officer of the Lehman Performing Arts Center. Current President and CEO of the not-for-profit, non-sectarian Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Westchester County. In this 81st assembly district, the Democratic state committeeman for 10 years, followed by 10 years as the Democratic male district leader. Active club member for the past 30 years. In 2017 was club president, since then and years before a vice president. Lived in the community 55 years.
Vice President - Helen Morik
Helen Morik has been a member of the Ben Franklin Reform Democratic Club for more than 35 years and has served as President, Vice President, State Committee member and Executive Committee member. Professionally, Helen served as District Administrator for Congressman Ted Weiss when he represented Riverdale and more recently as Vice President for Government and Community Affairs for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for 26 years. Helen has lived in Riverdale for more than 45 years and also serves on the Boards of Riverdale Senior Services, Riverdale Neighborhood House and Ft Tryon Park Trust. She strongly believes in supporting community organizations and advocating for community issues.
Vice President - Ira Bigeleisen
Ira Bigeleisen –Vice President - I am a life-long Democrat. While living in Brooklyn in the 1980’s, I leaned about New York City’s system of neighborhood clubs, and our unique access to our elected representatives. When I lived in California, the Chairman of the LA County Democratic Party was my personal friend. When Debi and I moved back to NYC, one of the first things I did was to register as a Democrat and visit the Ben Franklin Club. My first campaign at the club was working to help Jamaal Bailey get elected. Since then, I have been honored to serve on the Bronx County Committee, the BFRDC Executive Committee, as Delegate to the Judicial Convention, Chair of the 2019 Nominating Committee, Program Committee Chairman, and Recording Secretary. Along with my activities in the club, I have been privileged to serve on the Steering and Planning Committees of the NW Bronx Indivisible. In my spare time, I serve as the Secretary of my Coop Board, and am a Past Commodore of City Island Yacht Club, where I run the Junior Sailing Program serving the wider community of the East Bronx. I also have a private Voice Studio. As Vice President, I commit myself to working to elect the Ben Franklin Club’s endorsed candidates, and undertaking any other duties assigned to me by the Club President.
Corresponding Secretary – Ivan Nedds
Ivan “DUFFY” Nedds has been an active club member since 2012 and has had the honor of serving as the Corresponding Secretary since 2015. As Corresponding Secretary, Duffy has continued to improve the methods by which the club communicates. In 2018 he converted the club’s previously antiquated Gmail system to Constant Contact, where emails can be scheduled in advance and outreach data can be recorded. Outside of his officer role, since 2014 he has led the club’s petitioning efforts to place all of the club’s endorsed candidates on the ballot for election and has worked on numerous campaigns. Additionally, he coordinates sign in efforts before each club meeting and provides all necessary material to ensure club meetings run efficiently.
Recording Secretary - Nona Louise Dunbar
Louise Dunbar has lived in Spuyten Duyvil since 2015 and joined the Ben Franklin club not long after the 2016 election. Her first club activity was petitioning to get Darcel Clark on the ballot for Bronx district attorney. Since then, she has petitioned for numerous other candidates and campaigned for Eric Dinowitz for City Council. When not politicking, Louise keeps busy volunteering for her church, traveling (not so much since the pandemic!), reading (more since the pandemic!), and raising money for her alma mater, Wellesley College. Louise has served on the BFRDC Executive Committee and as Delegate to the Judicial Convention for 81AD.
Treasurer - Robin Weinstein
Robin Weinstein is the longtime Treasurer of the club. Professionally, she is a nursery school teacher with an MS in bilingual education (Spanish). Over the past 16 years in the position of treasurer, she has kept club expenses under tight control by careful bookkeeping and active cost-reduction, including looking for savings by changing our insurance company to a firm in the community, which has saved $1,000/year; taking advantage of Verizon plans to reduce the phone bills; keeping expenses down on annual dinners and brunches as a member of the team that produces the events. She also served as Recording Secretary and for over 20 years as a member has been an active phone banker, petitioner, and campaigner for club-endorsed candidates.
Committee Members At-Large
DELORES 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.
JULIA ENGEL has been a long time member of the BFRDC. Helping friends and neighbors gain greater access to the voting process is a huge passion of hers. Julia learned at a very young age from her parents (life long public servants) and grandparents (proud union members when it was unfashionable to be so) the importance of civic duty and giving back to the community. Julia is a lawyer by profession, and likes to call herself an advocate and problem solver by nature. Julia currently works as senior in house counsel at a large financial institution. And has engaged in pro bono representation, with the resources of her employers, to represent clients in family court, immigration, and human rights matters. Julia lives in North Riverdale and is currently the Treasurer of her coop’s Board of Directors.
ELLEN FELD is a 40-year club member, its president four separate times, has served as vice-president, and has been 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 37 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, Mitzie served as secretary, sergeant-at-arms, as a member on candidate screening board, as Chair of the NYC validation test board. Mitzie was also a leader of the Dress-for-Success program for 300-400 young women, for which she received numerous HRA awards. MItzie visits at-home ill and shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes through church eucharistic ministry. She earned an accountancy degree from NYC Technical College and BS from Mercy College. As a 20-year club member, Mitzie is a dependable petitioner. She also served as a County Committee Member.
MICHAEL FRIEDMAN has been a Reform Democrat since the early 1970’s and has always been committed to progressive politics. Service is a major part of his life which is evident in his career as a special education teacher since 1979. He is proud of the work he has done with his students. Michael also teaches in an alternative education program for young adults who work to obtain their high school equivalency exam. He is the union representative for a program that has 80 sites in all five boroughs.
MICHAEL HELLER has a life-long passion for public service and democratic party politics. Previously the 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 many more years of helping to elect democrats.
JAKE HERRING is a 25-year resident of Riverdale and has been involved in New York politics and government for longer! Jake is an experienced political operator, currently serving as Managing Director of one of the state’s leading government relations and political consulting firms. Prior to that, Jake was Chief of Staff for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s legislative affairs office in Albany, and he also has been a member of the staff for three Speakers of the New York City Council. Jake has volunteered throughout the years on a number of campaigns in the Bronx and beyond. A proud, life-long Democrat, Jake is a native of Albany, New York. He graduated from Manhattan College with an BA & MBA, and earned his J.D. at the Fordham University School of Law Evening Division while working for the City Council.
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 several 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 candidates for various elected offices.
BENJAMIN F. JACKSON Ben lives in Riverdale with his wife (a Bronx native) and their two-year-old daughter (a sixth-generation New Yorker). A graduate of Harvard Law School, Ben is a plaintiffs' attorney at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, where he works on behalf of unions and pension funds to hold large corporations and their executives accountable for fraud and misconduct that endangers the hard-earned retirement savings of working folks. Ben has been involved in grassroots Democratic Party volunteering for over two decades. Since becoming a lawyer, he has been actively involved in voter protection efforts, and he served as the Democratic National Committee's National Voter Protection Hotline Director in 2016. Ben strongly believes in bringing everything our club has to offer to the many diverse communities that make our corner of the Bronx so great.
JERALD KREPPEL is presently a member of the Executive Committee and has been a member of the Ben Franklin Club for many years. As a member of our community, Jerald cares about what happens in it. To that end, he has served a member of Community Board 8, is on the Board of Directors of the Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Van Cortlandt Development Corp., and is a member of the 50th Precinct Community Council. Jerald is an attorney specializing in real estate and landlord/tenant litigation, primarily representing tenants.
RANDI MARTOS Randi was born in the Bronx and raised in Riverdale and has dedicated herself to the community. She attended PS 24 and the former Junior High School 141 now known as The Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy. She is a graduate of The Bronx High School of Science. She was elected Female District Leader for the 81st Assembly District in 2008. Many in Riverdale know Randi from working for Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. In 2000, Randi started with Assemblyman Dinowitz as his Community Liaison and currently serves as the Assemblyman’s Chief-of-Staff, overseeing the daily operations of the office, including media and legislative affairs and office publications. She also supervises the staff in both the district and Albany offices. Randi represents the assemblyman at Community Board 8 as well as other community meetings. Randi has been involved in the local public schools since her son Adam started PS 24. She began as a Parent Association library volunteer, and then was elected Parents Association President and served for three years. Randi’s involvement significantly increased when she helped spearhead a campaign to restructure MS 141 into a middle school high school. After a long, intense battle in 1999 with the local community school board and the local school District, Randi and others were successful in the creation of The Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, one of her proudest accomplishments. Randi continued her involvement in the public schools. In 2000, Randi moved her volunteerism over to RKA where her son entered the school as a 6th grader. In 2001, she was elected PA President. She was elected 6 more times, making her the longest serving PA President for that school. Randi has also served on her building’s Co-op board for over 30 years, with the last 26 years as its President. An avid Yankee/Rangers fan, Randi enjoys cheering on her favorite teams either at home or from the stands. Randi has done many things for the community but her first dedication is and will always be to her family. Randi lives in Riverdale and has an adult son named Adam, who along with his wife Sara and Randi’s grandson, Aidan, live in New Jersey.
JAMES REILLY is a first generation Irish American and lifelong Bronx resident. He graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School, received his BA from Lehman College and earned an MBA from Pace University. He grew up in Highbridge and has lived in Woodlawn for over 40 years. He and his spouse Theresa raised their family in Woodlawn and they are blessed with 13 grandchildren. Jim worked in Human Resources for financial firms in NYC. He is an active volunteer in the Woodlawn community having coached and has been an officer and President of the Wood-Lean Boys and Girls Club. For over 37 years, Jim has been a member of the Woodlawn Taxpayers & Community Association including of serving as an officer and as President. He is on the leadership council for the Woodlawn Run for Cause, an annual 5K race which over 15 years has raised more than $175,000 for various local charities. Jim is an active parishioner of Saint Barnabas Church. Recently elected as a Bronx Democratic Committee member, he hopes to help bring some common Bronx sense to our current political processes.
HEIDI SCHWARTZ was born, raised and resides in our community. She is an active member of the club since 2004 as Member at Large, Secretary, President and VP. As President from 2008-2011 Heidi organized debate and watch get togethers, revised club logo and branding and collaborated with community organizations. Through these roles, Heidi has worked on numerous committees especially fundraising where she has assisted in organizing brunches, dinners, and charitable drives while phone banking, petitioning and mail stuffing, in order to strengthen the democratic party and BFRDC. As VP of Business Development for a licensing and branding agency Heidi has a strong marketing, networking, organizational and public speaking background. Daily, Heidi negotiates and troubleshoots all types of problems which are positive assets for the Club.
FREDDA TOURIN has been a member of the Ben Franklin club for nearly 40 years. She has been on the Executive Committee since 2021, has been a delegate to the County Committee and a delegate/alternate to Judicial Conventions, and is involved in fundraising for the club. Fredda worked for 5 years as Office Manager/Scheduler for Council Member Andrew Cohen. She is currently an actor, teacher and award-winning photographer.
SERGO VILLAVERDE was born and raised in NYC. The son of immigrants Sergio is fluent in Spanish. He lives in the Bronx and has most of his life. Sergio has been in the service of others all of his adult life. Upon graduation from John F Kennedy HS in the Bronx, Sergio enlisted in the US Coast Guard Reserve and retired with over 32 year of service at the rank of Commander. During his time with the Coast Guard Sergio served in military, legal and law enforcement roles. Sergio received commendations for service in numerous peacetime operations and also served as a reservist during the Gulf war, was activated to service September 11, 2001 and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010. Sergio also served as an Emergency Medical Technician for the City of New York. Sergio received commendations for life saving and delivered 18 children (all girls). While a member of the NYPD (now retired) Sergio served the neighborhoods of the mid-west Bronx. His assignments included: Patrol, Community Policing, plain-clothes detail and training officer. Sergio was an active Police Officer in defense of the Community making arrests ranging from armed robbery to spousal and child abuse. Sergio received awards for meritorious service and three integrity awards for arresting criminals who attempted to bribe him. Sergio has always maintained a direct link to the community, which he serves. He was a volunteer baseball coach, mentor, chairman of a local youth services corporation, volunteer attorney for battered women and serves on the Boards of The Bronx County Bar Association and the Association of Naval Services Officers. He was appointed to Community Board 7 and 8 in the Bronx. While working a member of the US Coast Guard Reserve, an EMT and later in the NYPD, Sergio obtained an Associate In Arts Degree, A Bachelor of Arts (political science)-with honors and finally a Juris Doctor from Fordham University Law School.
Bill Weitz is a lifelong Bronxite having grown up in the community. After graduating from PS 24, MS 141 and The Bronx High School of Science, Bill received his Bachelors of Arts, majoring in Political Science with minors in Sociology and Business Management, from the University at Albany, SUNY and a Masters of Public Administration from The Rockefeller College of Public Policy. Bill served as a member of the State University of New York Board of Trustees, developing public policy for the University system that encompassed 64 campuses and over 400,000 students and 100,000 faculty and staff, while creating a statewide system of student governance that continues to exist today. After leaving the Board, Bill served as the Legislative Director and then Chief of Staff for NY State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. For nearly 20 years he was the Chief of Staff for US Representative Eliot Engel, running the operations and budget for the Congressman's 4 offices here in NY & Washington, DC. Bill served as Chief of Staff to Council Member Eric Dinowitz to assist in establishing his local district office and train new community representatives. Bill served as President of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club and was the Democratic State Committee member, representing the 81st Assembly District for nearly 16 years where he was a member of the Reform Caucus and the Progressive Caucus. He is currently a Vice Chair of the Bronx Democratic Party. Currently, Bill is the Assistant to the Commissioner for the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health where he works on special projects, including the Opioid Response Initiative. Bill is a lifelong Yankee and Ranger fan and has been married to Bellanne for 18 years. They have a 16-year-old son, Bennett (who is already pre-resistered to vote).