AARP NY Westchester Region Virtual State Legislative Forum

August 13, 2020  
10:00AM - 11:00AM
Presented By AARP NY
Event Description

AARP NY is proud to present the next installment of our Westchester Region State Legislative Forum. The purpose is to hear state lawmakers from across the Westchester Region outline their legislative and policy priorities for the remainder of the year, working through and around the pandemic, political uncertainty, and more. Specific topics include: Nursing Homes, Long Term Care, and family caregiving; Prescription Drug Affordability; Food Access; Financial Security; and Social Isolation. Registration is free. Join us on August 13th to discuss these important topics with our state legislators from the region.

NY State Assemblyman David Buchwald
David Buchwald was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 2012 and has emerged as a leading proponent of government transparency and integrity. He represents the 93rd Assembly District in Westchester County which stretches from White Plains north along the I-684 corridor. He is Chairman of the Assembly Election Law Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement. In 2017, New York Voters overwhelmingly supported his state constitutional amendment to allow the removal of taxpayer-funded pensions from public officials convicted of a felony directly connected to their job. Assemblyman Buchwald earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics at Yale University, then went on to receive a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Prior to his Assembly election, he was a member of the White Plains Common Council and practiced tax law in New York as an associate of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
New York State Senator Shelley Mayer
Shelley Mayer has spent her career as an advocate for New Yorkers. She is an experienced and progressive leader. In an April 2018 Special Election, she was elected to the New York State Senate representing the 37th Senate District, which includes the Cities of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle, and Rye; the Towns of Bedford, Eastchester, Harrison, Mamaroneck, North Castle, and Rye; and the Villages of Bronxville, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Rye Brook, and Tuckahoe. She was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election on March 20, 2012 and subsequently re-elected November 2012, 2014, and 2016 from the 90th District (Yonkers). Shelley previously served as Chief Counsel to the New York State Senate Democrats, where she helped lead the effort to expel the disgraced Hiram Monserrate and helped draft critical legislation to reform Albany and protect taxpayers. Prior to her election to the Assembly, Shelley was a Senior Counsel at the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School, where she focused on health care and labor law rights. For over seven years, she was Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Continuum Health Partners, one of New York City’s largest teaching hospital systems, working to protect Medicaid and Medicare services and improving the relationship between New York City’s diverse communities and the hospital system. From 1982 to 1994, Shelley was an Assistant Attorney General in the office of New York Attorney General Bob Abrams. She served in the Civil Rights Bureau, as Chief of the Westchester Regional Office, as the legislative liaison for the Attorney General and ultimately as a senior advisor to the Attorney General. As an Assistant Attorney General, Shelley fought to protect civil rights for New Yorkers and to broaden laws protecting consumers and tenants. Shelley received a JD from SUNY Buffalo School of Law in 1979 and a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in 1975. Shelley has been actively involved in the Yonkers community, serving as a member of the Yonkers NAACP, Yonkers YWCA, Westchester Women’s Bar Association, and Westchester Women’s Agenda. She is a member of the Yonkers Lawyers Association, New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Shelley also previously served on the Board of the Jewish Council of Yonkers/Westchester Community Partners and the Yonkers Public Library. Shelley lives in Yonkers with her husband of 36 years, Lee Smith. Shelley and Lee have three adult children – Aaron, Julia, and Arthur Smith.
NY State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne
Kevin Byrne is the current assembly member for the 94th Assembly District, serves as the ranking Minority member on the Health Committee, and chairs the Assembly Minority Program Committee, making him the youngest member in his Conference’s leadership team. He also serves on the Insurance, Labor, Transportation, and Governmental Operations Committees. Previously he has served as the ranking Minority member on the Aging Committee and as the vice-chair of the Assembly Minority Steering Committee. Kevin resides in Mahopac with his wife, Briana (Messina) Byrne, who has a busy career as a physician assistant (PA) at Montefiore Hospital, and their rescued Treeing Walker Coonhound, Tracker. He is the third child of his two hardworking parents. His father, Dan, continues to work as a high-voltage troubleshooter at Con Edison with the UWUA Local 1-2, and his mother, Patty, is a past 20+ year employee of Putnam Hospital Center. Kevin was born and raised in the Hudson Valley, attending Carmel High School before enrolling at the University of Scranton. As a high school student, he showed an early commitment to community service and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. At Scranton, Byrne participated in the Army ROTC program, but his aspiration to military service was jeopardized by a previous spinal injury he sustained as a competitive student wrestler. Hoping to qualify for the Army physical, Byrne had a second surgery to remove a metal rod that had been used to repair his broken spine – but it was to no avail. Despite that, Byrne did complete the academic portion of the ROTC program coupled with an internship with then-Congresswoman Sue Kelly. Determined to be patriotic in every way he could, he focused intensely on public service in his volunteer activities, work, and political commitments. Following his graduation from the University of Scranton, Byrne returned to the Hudson Valley and continued his volunteer service as an assistant scoutmaster and member of the Putnam Valley Town Planning Board. He was also a volunteer firefighter and EMT for the Kent Volunteer Fire Department, where he served three terms as department president. His commitment to service was later recognized by Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, who appointed him deputy district director. After serving the people of New York’s 19th Congressional District, Kevin then left the public sector to serve as a regional director for the American Heart Association to help people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and stroke. While working full-time, he completed his graduate studies and received his M.P.A. with a concentration in Healthcare Administration at Marist College. Refusing to be a “rubber stamp” for any political party or power structure, Kevin has always been eager to learn and to make decisions based on facts and common sense. Those values and principles that guided him throughout his life continue to guide him as our representative in the New York State Assembly. Kevin first decided to run for elected office in 2016 when he noticed many of his friends and former classmates from his youth were moving out of New York State. Byrne believed then that a generation was being lost, and has since fought for a more affordable New York that would benefit all New Yorkers. Unfortunately, many of the challenges remain the same: high taxes, out-of-control government spending, corrupt politics, and jobs, as New Yorkers flee the avalanche of mandates that make life impossible for small businesses to survive. Kevin has dedicated his life in public office to reversing this decline and serving as our representative in the New York State Assembly.
New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi
Alessandra Biaggi is the Democratic New York State Senator in her home district (Bronx/Westchester), and Chair of the revived Ethics and Internal Governance Committee. The granddaughter of Italian immigrants who lived in Hunts Point, she is the fourth generation of her family to live in District 34. Within her first two months in office, Senator Biaggi chaired the first public hearings in 27 years on sexual harassment in the workplace, and led the charge in New York to pass legislation that strengthens protections for survivors and holds employers accountable for addressing sexual misconduct. In a joint effort with her colleagues in the Democratic conference, the Senator worked to pass transformational legislation including tenant-centered housing reforms, bold climate-change initiatives, unprecedented criminal justice reform, comprehensive workplace protections, and expansive legislation making it easier to vote. Before launching her campaign, she served in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Counsel’s Office focusing on the New York State’s women’s policy agenda, advocating for passage of the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act. During the historic 2016 election, Alessandra was the Deputy National Operations Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, overseeing a budget of $500 million, 38 state directors and 45 associated staff. Her run for office was preceded by a decade of advocacy and service to the people of New York. She interned for the Kings County D.A.’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and was a legal fellow for New York State Homes and Community Renewal, working to ensure that families across New York State had access to affordable housing. She served as Assistant General Counsel for Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery, working with small businesses and municipalities to rebuild New York after Hurricane Sandy. She was a 2015 New Leaders Council (NLC) fellow, sat on NLC’s Advisory Board, and is a member of The New Agenda's Young Women Leadership Council. Alessandra attended Pelham public schools and holds degrees from New York University and Fordham Law School. She is also a graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.
NY State Assemblywoman Sandra Galef
Assemblywoman Sandra Galef has been committed to public service both as a volunteer and as an elected official almost her entire life. She has consistently been a leader bringing innovation, change, and energy to every endeavor. This commitment started in school in Westchester County where she has lived since 1944 as a resident of Mamaroneck, White Plains, Eastchester and Ossining. Assemblywoman Galef was born Sandra Risk in Lacrosse, Wisconsin in May 1940. After moving to Westchester, she attended schools in Mamaroneck and White Plains. She graduated from White Plains High School with honors and was class secretary. She then attended Purdue University and was again elected class secretary and president of her sorority. After graduating from Purdue, she received a Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Virginia while teaching in Charlottesville. She next worked in the Scarsdale school system as a teacher and subsequently left to raise her two children. During this period, she was fully involved in organizing and serving numerous community agencies and advocating for community needs. Her volunteer leadership activities have included: president, League of Women Voters of Briarcliff-Ossining; trustee, Ossining Public Library; president and 16-year board member, United Way of Northern Westchester; board of directors, Visiting Nurse Service of Westchester; president, National Council of Jewish Women, Westchester. Evening Section; board of directors, Phelps Hospital Robin's Nest Day Care Center; board of directors, Westchester Municipal Planning Federation; board member, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center; board member, Bethel Nursing Home; board member, Westchester Medical Center Children's Hospital Foundation; board member of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education Foundation; and board member Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO). Assemblywoman Galef has also played a very active role in the Westchester Health and Human Services Forum; the Westchester Transportation and Housing Committees; Westchester 2000; advisory committee, North Tarrytown Open Door; Ossining Upward Bound Substance Abuse Council; Westchester Tricentennial Committee; Public Affairs Chair, Junior League of Westchester-on-Hudson; Ossining Chamber of Commerce; chair, Ossining Youth Employment Service; board member, Day Care Council of Westchester; and trustee member of Education and Learning Coalition of Westchester and Putnam Counties. She hosts two television shows, "Dear Sandy" and "Speakout with Sandy Galef" highlighting local, regional and statewide personalities and issues of interest to her constituents. In 1992 Assemblywoman Galef was elected to the New York State Assembly. Her district covers the Towns of Cortlandt, Ossining, Kent, Philipstown, and the City of Peekskill. She currently chairs the Real Property Tax Committee and serves as a member of the Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committee; the Election Law Committee; the Governmental Operations Committee; and the Health Committee. Galef also serves on the Assembly Majority Steering Committee and the Hudson Valley Greenway Communities Council. Former Assembly leadership positions include Chair of the Libraries and Education Technology Committee, Vice Chair of the New York Legislative Women's Caucus, and Chair of the Subcommittee for Rural Health. Galef has been a leading advocate for legislative reform in Albany as well as being deeply involved in matters pertaining to education, tax reduction, government efficiency, environmental/clean energy issues, consumer issues, health, voting rights, organ donation, the disability community, and senior citizens, among other causes. Prior to becoming a member of the New York State Assembly, Galef served as a Westchester County Legislator for thirteen years, eight of them as minority leader of the Board of Legislators. She also served as president of the New York State Association of Counties and as Chair of the Welfare and Medicaid Steering Committee. On the national level, Assemblywoman Galef served as chair of the Labor and Employee Benefits Steering Committee for the National Association of Counties and was awarded a fellowship for the Eastern Leadership Academy at the University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute of Government from the Council of State Governments. Assemblywoman Galef has been honored by many community organizations including: the American Cancer Society; New York State Association of Counties; New York State Federation of Police; Westchester County, which honored her with a Distinguished Service Award; B'nai B'rith; the United Way, who awarded her the Harold J. Marshall Award for Leadership and Sensitivity; The Arc of Westchester, which gave her the 2002 Public Official Partnership Award; and the New York Library Association (NYLA), which named her 2005 Outstanding Advocate for Libraries. In 2006, Galef won the New York Police Chiefs Benevolent Association's Award for Outstanding Public Service and was named an Environmental Champion by Scenic Hudson, the Westchester Land Trust and other environmental groups. In 2007, Galef was named Legislator of the Year by the New York State School Boards Association. Galef was honored by POW'R Against Tobacco in 2009 for her anti-smoking efforts in the state legislature. In 2010, she was honored by the Reality Check Organization, a youth group sponsored by the New York State Department of Health, as a Reality Check Champion of 2010 for her work on anti-smoking measures, specifically trying to eliminate smoking in children's playgrounds. In 2015, the Cooperative Scholarship of Ossining awarded Galef its Community Service Award, and in 2018 Galef received the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award from AAA for passing legislation requiring that children under two years of age be restrained in a rear-facing car seat in most instances. Galef was the 2018 Honoree for the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. She was also listed in City & State’s Westchester Power 100 in 2019. Galef resides in Ossining and is the widow of Steven Galef. She has two children, Graig, a Financial Planner at Strategies for Wealth, and Gwen, an Assistant District Attorney in Westchester.
New York State Senator David Carlucci
Senator and Democrat David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) represents the 38th District in the New York State Senate and has been in office since 2010. He has distinguished himself as a lawmaker who delivers results for residents in Rockland and Westchester Counties. Since taking office, he has passed more than 100 pieces of legislation, including making Naloxone available over the counter to help save lives and fight the Opioid epidemic. Senator Carlucci has worked with the Governor each year to promote fiscal discipline by passing on-time budgets, passing tax breaks for the middle class, implementing a property tax cap, and fighting for millions for public schools. He has pushed legislation to create jobs and grow our economy. This includes Jobs for Heroes, providing tax credits to businesses that hire returning veterans serving overseas, including his work to reduce burdensome regulations and promote entrepreneurism. Senator Carlucci also played an instrumental role in standing up for progressive issues and helped pass: same-sex marriage, the SAFE Act, Raise the Age of criminal responsibility, a $15 minimum wage plan, and the nation’s strongest Paid Family Leave policy. Senator Carlucci currently resides with his wife and two children in New City, New York, which is in Rockland County.
NY State Assemblyman Nader J. Sayegh
Nader J. Sayegh, a resident of Yonkers for over 60 years, grew up with seven siblings on the southwest side of the city, which was ethnically and racially diverse. After working his way through college, he dedicated himself to being a spokesperson for community needs in education and in equitable opportunities for all. This path has guided him to seek and reach success as a teacher, principal, college professor, Captain in the NYS Guard/Militia, and president of the Yonkers Public Schools Board of Education. In addition, Dr. Sayegh has also served as a Trustee for the NYS Board of Elections, where he was on several committees, including the Instructional Affairs Committee and the Big Five Cities Board. Nader understands urban education because he has lived and has held several positions within that capacity. He is a true leader who knows how to advocate for educational reform, as well as how to address the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with special needs. Nader’s leadership in community service and as an attorney for 28 years, specializing in personal injury, immigration, criminal and real estate law, has resulted in his participation in numerous civic, hospital and nonprofit scholarship committees, the Spanish Foundation, and the NAACP, to name a few areas where he has, and continues to be, a consistent supporter and advocate for education, labor and human resources. Nader represents the 90th Assembly District, which almost entirely encompasses the city of Yonkers. In this role, he continues to lobby for the redistributing of funds to his city so the school system can build new schools. One of his goals in the NYS Assembly is to fight for changes in the New York State Education Funding Formula which shortchanges Yonkers students and deprives schools of a fair share of their necessary funding. In the Assembly, he also works toward decreasing taxes for the middle class, while enhancing the job market and the economy in NYS. Dr. Sayegh earned an Associate Degree from Westchester Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science from Lehman College, a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a Professional Diploma in Administration and Supervision from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor of Law from Pace University School of Law. Furthermore, Nader is an expert lecturer on various educational topics with a focus on school district/municipal agreements (consolidation of services), immigration, safety and security, code of conduct, special education, adult/alternate education and school/law policies. On a personal note, Nader Sayegh has been married to his wife, Sana, for 34 years. They have five daughters who are successful in the fields of medicine, education and dentistry.
NY State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti
Tom Abinanti was first elected as a member of the New York State Assembly in 2010. He represents the 92nd District which includes the all of the towns of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant (including the villages of Pleasantville, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Elmsford, Ardsley, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, a part of Briarcliff and the entire unincorporated area of both) ) He serves as chair of the Assembly Committee on Banks. Abinanti served as Greenburgh Town Councilman for two terms and Westchester County Legislator for ten terms (where he was Democratic Majority Leader three times.) Born in Brooklyn, Abinanti graduated from Xaverian High School, Fordham College and NYU Law School.
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