Our club leadership is happy to welcome you, get to know us!
President - Michael Heller
Corresponding Secretary – Ivan Nedds
Recording Secretary – Helen Krim
Treasurer – Robin Weinstein
State Committee Members
Committee Members At-Large
Ira Bigeleisen has been a 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.
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.
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.
Paul Ellis has 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.
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 has 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.
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.
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.
Mariela Salazar’s career spans a wide swath of nonprofit and governmental disciplines. Presently working as a Government & Community Relations Manager at Montefiore Health System; she serves as an emissary for the hospital, interfacing with communities, elected officials and agencies. She has served as Chief of Staff to NYC Council Member Annabel Palma, immersing her in the legislative process, budget preparations/allocations, media relations and constituent services. Mariela holds both a BA and an MPA from Binghamton University. Bronx resident, she is committed to ensuring social and political engagement; she currently is the parliamentarian for the Bronx Democratic County Committee.
Jerald Kreppel is presently a member of the Executive Committee and have been a member of the Ben Franklin Club for many years. As a member of the community, I care about what happens in our community. I have been a member of Community Board 8, am currently on the Board of Directors of the Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Van Cortlandt Development Corp., and am a member of the 50th Precinct Community Council. I am an attorney specializing in real estate and landlord/tenant litigation, primarily representing tenants. I would like to continue as a member of the Executive Committee.
Sylvia Lask is the outstanding advocate for mental health in New York State. She chairs or has been a member of the NYS Mental Health Association, the Community Advisory Board overseeing two Bronx hospitals, and the Board of Visitors of the Bronx Psychiatric Center. Instrumental in passing the 2018 Mental Health Education bill, and Timothy’s Law, making insurance companies cover mental health services. For over 30 years a community board member and for 16 years a Democratic state committeewoman. Active member of this club, even when she lived in Co-op City, Sylvia has served on the executive and bylaws committees.
Eleanor Oliff hasalways been involved in pursuing policies for progressive reforms. I studied at Bronx Community College for 2 years. I’ve been a member of the BFRDC for 26 years and a member of the Executive Committee for 21 years. I spent many evenings at Phone Banks for our club with success. I’ve handed out Palm Cards for our candidates on all Primary + election days. I’ve been a Delegate to our Democratic Judicial Convention from the 81st AD. I carried petitions with great success, achieving as many as 265 valid signatures. My efforts have always been successful for the BFRDC.
Kate Theobald is a registered Democrat. A member of Ben Franklin Reform Democratic Club for over five years. She has served in various leadership roles, including Executive Committee Member, Recording Secretary, Bylaws Committee and Nominating Committee. Most importantly, she shows up, e.g. attendance record of approximately 95%, during petitioning periods is out Monday through Thursday from 6-8 p.m. She is currently Chief of Staff to NYC Councilmember Keith Powers and preciously worked as court attorney in Bronx Supreme Court and as legislative counsel to Councilmember Andrew Cohen. She lives in Riverdale and has no fish.