Brooklyn Virtual State Legislative Forum sponsored by AARP NY

August 20, 2020  
10:00AM - 11:00AM
Event Description

AARP NY is the proud sponsor of the Brooklyn State Legislative Forum hosted by City & State. The purpose is to hear state lawmakers from across Brooklyn 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 the forum on Thursday, August 20th to discuss these important topics with our state legislators from the region.

Andrew Gounardes
New York State Senate
State Senator Andrew Gounardes Bio State Senator Andrew Gounardes represents New York’s 22nd State Senate District, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Marine Park. He was elected in November 2018. Senator Gounardes is Chair of the Committee on Civil Service & Pensions and has passed key legislation to expand services to 9/11 heroes and promote street safety, including the landmark school zone speed camera expansion to protect students and families. He is also a champion of the fight to fix the MTA and fund our public schools and universities. Born and raised in Bay Ridge, Senator Gounardes graduated from Fort Hamilton High School and earned degrees from Hunter College and the George Washington University Law School. Senator Gounardes’ passion for public service began as an aide to former City Councilmember Vincent Gentile. He later served as Counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for five years and a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, one of the largest municipal pension funds in the country. Guided by the principles of philoxenia, a Greek word meaning "love of strangers," he was active in the community long before being elected to office. Following Superstorm Sandy, Andrew co-founded Bay Ridge Cares, an organization that prepared 25,000 hot meals for victims after the storm. A community advocate, he worked with Riders Alliance and Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everyone Safe (B.R.A.K.E.S.) to fight for better transportation and safer streets. Senator Gounardes is also active on issues affecting the Greek community. He is a member of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, a network of Greek-American leaders from across the United States that promote civic involvement, human rights, and democratic values in and between the United States and Greece. He is a founding member of the St. Andrew’s Freedom Forum, an international initiative that raises awareness of the denial of human rights and religious liberties of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Church and recognizes religious freedom defenders throughout the world.
N. Nick Perry
New York State Assembly
New York Assemblyman N. Nick Perry was born and raised in the parish of St. Andrew, Jamaica. The fourth of five sons in a family of eleven children, he completed his secondary education at Kingston College (H.S.) where he attended on a full scholarship, and worked for the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union before migrating to the U.S. in the summer of 1971. Upon arriving in the U.S., Perry volunteered for the U.S. Army where he served for two years of active duty and four years on reserve status. He is the recipient of several service medals and was honorably discharged with the rank of Specialist E-5. Perry then attended college on the G.I. Bill, graduating from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in Political Science, and later studied for an M.A. in Public Policy and Administration. While in college Perry was a student leader and student rights activist. After college, Perry got involved with community organizing and gained recognition as an effective advocate and strong leader in his community. He was appointed to the local Community Board, where he demonstrated the leadership skills that propelled him to be chose by his colleagues as Chairman. He served five consecutive one-year terms, during which he served on the Brooklyn Borough Board. Assemblyman Perry was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 1992 to represent the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn. Assemblyman Perry ran unopposed, and was reelected to serve his 12th consecutive term in the 2014 General Election. Assemblyman Perry is currently the Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the New York Assembly, Chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, and Regional Chairman, (Region 2, NY & PA) National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). Assemblyman Perry currently serves on the New York Assembly Committees on: Rules, Ways & Means, Codes, Banks, Labor, and Transportation. Assemblyman Perry is married to Joyce and they have two children, daughter Novalie, and son Nickolas Alexander and one granddaughter Justine.
Mathylde Frontus
New York State Assembly
Mathylde Frontus represents the 46th Assembly District, covering all of Coney Island and Sea Gate, as well as parts of Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Dyker Heights and Gravesend. She has lived in Coney Island for over 30 years and is a well-known community leader and advocate. Ms. Frontus is mostly known for her role as the founder and leader of three organizations in Coney Island and as being the architect of various programs in her neighborhood which have positively impacted hundreds of individuals, youth and families. From 2004-2016, she served as the founder and executive director of Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS), a one-stop shop social service agency providing a range of programs and initiatives such as financial literacy, veterans support, health education, LGBTQ resources, legal assistance, college prep, reentry services for the formerly incarcerated, job and housing assistance, mental health services and youth leadership development. During her tenure at UNS, Ms. Frontus also founded two coalitions to address gun violence in the Coney Island community. In December 2009, she created the Coney Island Coalition against Violence and was elected as its co-chair. In December 2013, after two back-to-back fatal shootings in the community, she founded The Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative and served as the acting chair of the group until December 2015. From 2015-2017, she served on the steering committee of the organization. Ms. Frontus has had a long commitment to public service dating back to high school. As a young student at Edward R. Murrow High School, she was very active in Council for Unity and organized events at her school to promote cross-cultural dialogue. As a college student at NYU, she founded a chapter of Council for Unity on campus and organized various events to promote racial, ethnic and religious tolerance and unity. Over the years she served on the Community Advisory Board at Coney Island Hospital, the Community Learning Schools Advisory Board at P.S. 188 and the NYPD 60th Precinct Community Council. She’s also run a book club at the Coney Island Public Library to promote reading and literacy. Ms. Frontus’ record of service has earned her various awards including the 2014 Characters Unite Award from the USA Network/ NBC Universal. She was one of ten national recipients recognized by the network for combating hate, intolerance and discrimination and making significant contributions to promoting greater tolerance, respect and acceptance in their communities. Ms. Frontus received a Bachelor’s degree of Social Work (BSW) and Masters of Social Work (MSW) from NYU, a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology (M.A.) from Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) from Harvard Divinity School. In May 2015, she received her Ph.D. from the Columbia University School of Social Work where she specialized in Social Policy & Administration. In 2016, Ms. Frontus was appointed as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work where she taught “Advocacy in Social Work Practice: Changing Organizations & Communities, Influencing Social Policies & Political Processes.” In 2018, she was appointed to the NYU Silver School of Social Work where she taught a new course that she designed: “Advocacy & Social Justice.” Ms. Frontus is the fifth Haitian-American elected to the New York State Assembly, and the second Haitian-American woman elected from New York City.
Simcha Felder
New York State Senate
State Senator Simcha Felder was elected in a decisive victory in November 2012 to represent the 17th Senate District which encompasses the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Midwood, Flatbush, Borough Park, Kensington, Sunset Park, Madison and Bensonhurst. A lifelong New Yorker, Simcha lives with his wife and children just blocks from the house in which he was born and raised. Simcha is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Masters of Business Administration degree in Management from the renowned Zicklin School of Business at CUNY’s Baruch College. Felder also served as a professor of Management at Touro College and CUNY’S Brooklyn College. Felder has also served as Deputy Comptroller for Budget, Accounting, Administration and Information Technology in the New York City Comptroller’s Office. Simcha previously worked for the New York State Assembly and as a tax auditor for the New York City Department of Finance. Before entering politics, Felder was a tireless community leader and volunteer for local civic organizations. With 17 ½ years of experience in public service, Simcha Felder was elected to the City Council in 2002. As a Council Member, Simcha built a reputation as a dedicated and committed advocate who brought concrete results home to his constituents. He served as the Chair of the Council’s Government Operations and Sanitation and Solid Waste Management committees where he worked to bring a more rational approach to government. Simcha also chaired the Landmarks Committee. An outspoken advocate for responsible neighborhood development, Simcha worked to transform empty city-owned lots for community uses such as new housing and a Hatzolah Volunteer Ambulance garage and headquarters. Simcha fought to secure City funding to add new playgrounds, open up and renovate schoolyards for public use, and plant thousands of new trees on city streets. While serving on the Council’s Education Committee, Simcha supported efforts to improve New York City schools through direct control and equitable funding. Simcha is a staunch advocate of school choice and maintains that the State must do more to ensure that all New York City students are treated equitably. Simcha has a proven record as a champion of common-sense policies that streamline government and increase accountability to taxpayers. He passed laws to reduce unfair parking and sanitation tickets, sponsored the five-minute grace period legislation for motorists, and put a stop to the distribution of unwanted circulars and menus. Felder seeks to continue his record as a legislator to make government more responsive to the needs of its citizens and break down needless and frustrating bureaucratic red-tape. As State Senator, in 2013, Felder successfully fought for and secured, funding for school transportation, enabling parents to receive fully-funded, “safety first,” door-to-door school bus services for their school children. That same year, Senator Felder again fought for parents with special education children, passing legislation to enable parents to more easily receive funding for their child’s schooling.
Jo Anne Simon
New York State Assembly
Jo Anne Simon was elected to represent the 52nd District of the New York State Assembly in 2014. She is the Chair of the Committee on Ethics and Guidance and the Chair of the Commission on Legislative Ethics. Jo Anne has earned a reputation as a tireless advocate and an effective community leader for Brooklyn. She has worked to give Brooklyn's communities a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, reduce firearm violence, promote environmental justice, increase affordable housing, fight sexual harassment, reform election laws, improve transit and street safety, and improve access to education. Jo Anne hosts an annual Dyslexia Awareness Day in Albany and passed dyslexia legislation so that children can learn to read and be successful students by identifying their learning disabilities and ensuring appropriate educational interventions. She has championed free school meals for all children and worked to ensure that no kids are shamed because their families don’t have enough money to pay for school meals. She has passed major legislation on campaign finance reform, gun violence prevention, and dyslexia. She also holds a bill to ensure community input and department of health oversight before a hospital or critical department is closed, and a bill to ensure protections to those living in assisted living residences which are slated to close. A former teacher of the deaf, sign language interpreter and disability civil rights attorney, Jo Anne is a nationally recognized expert in her field. Her work has been featured in the New York and National Law Journals. Jo Anne was also an adjunct Assistant Professor of Law at Fordham.
Roxanne J. Persaud
New York State Senate
Roxanne Jacqueline Persaud was elected to the State Senate in November 2015 after serving in the State Assembly. She has been reelected twice. Currently, she serves as the chair of the Social Services Committee as well as a member of the Banks, Children and Families, Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, Labor and Transportation Committees. Roxanne spent many years as a Higher Education Administrator prior to being elected to the State Legislature. In addition, she is a longtime advocate for the community. She served as President of the 69th Precinct Community Council in Canarsie, a member of Community Board 18 and Commissioner on the New York City Districting Commission. She also is a graduate of the NYPD Citizens Police Academy as well as, the New York City Office of Emergency Management-Community Emergency Response Team. Additionally, she was a member of Community Action Board of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and Chairperson of the Neighborhood Advisory Board - District 18. She also serves on organizations highlighting domestic violence and cancer awareness among others. Her dedication to community involvement and her interest in helping others stretches well beyond Brooklyn. She has traveled overseas on several occasions as a volunteer on medical and social outreach programs. She encourages everyone to be actively involved in the community. Roxanne was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the United States with her parents and siblings. She is a graduate of Pace University from which she holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Education Administration. In the Senate, Roxanne’s legislative priorities for the District will include safer communities, affordable housing, funding for schools and libraries, supportive services for youth and senior and quality healthcare. Roxanne lives in the Canarsie section of the 19th Senatorial District.
Brian Kavanagh
New York State Senate
State Senator Brian Kavanagh represents more than 320,000 residents in New York’s 26th Senate District, including the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, the Navy Yard, Vinegar Hill, and Williamsburg and the Manhattan neighborhoods of Battery Park City, Chinatown, the East and South Villages, the Financial District, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, SoHo, Tribeca, and Two Bridges. Brian was first elected to the Senate in 2017 after representing the 74th District on Manhattan’s East Side in the State Assembly, where he was elected to six terms, beginning in 2006. His work focuses on promoting affordable housing, preventing gun violence, protecting the environment, creating a more open and equitable political process, and advancing economic and social justice. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction, and Community Development, Brian has built on his decades of advocating for access to high quality, safe, affordable housing for all New Yorkers. In 2019, he led the Senate effort to enact the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which gave New York the toughest tenant protections in the nation. The HSTPA dramatically strengthened the rent regulation laws, made them permanent, enabled any locality with a very low vacancy rate to adopt rent regulation, created new protections for residents of mobile and manufactured home parks, and instituted other substantial new rights for all renters statewide. Under Brian’s leadership, the Housing Committee held hearings on enforcement of housing, building, and fire codes and advanced a broad package of legislation that passed the Senate in 2020. Throughout his tenure, Brian has fought for major improvements in the management, maintenance, and security of public housing. While there have been some successes, including state capital funds allocated in recent years, he continues to advocate for a better response from city, state, and federal government. In response to thorough reporting by Newsday on racial and ethnic discrimination by real estate brokers on Long Island, Brian joined colleagues to investigate the allegations and identify ways to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair access to housing; this work continues in 2020. Brian also successfully advocated in 2019 and 2020 to restore funding for foreclosure prevention counseling and legal services in every county, and for legislation for a more just foreclosure process. In his 14 years in the legislature, Brian has repeatedly taken on the gun industry lobby and won, helping to reduce gun violence in New York and across the country. He is the founder and chair of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention and co-chair of New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention. He drafted and passed New York’s “red flag” law, enacted in 2019, which empowers families, law enforcement, and schools to obtain Extreme Risk Protection Orders to keep guns away from individuals when evidence shows they are likely to harm themselves or others. In 2013, he helped craft the NY SAFE Act, which requires background checks on all gun sales, and bans military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. He also advocated successfully for laws requiring safe storage of guns when not in their owner’s possession, more support for community-based gun violence intervention, and gun violence prevention research funding. Brian’s work earned him the Detective McDonald Law Enforcement Award from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence in 2019. Brian has also been an environmental leader. He was a proud co-sponsor of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, enacted in 2019, which mandates huge cuts in climate pollution, investment in clean, renewable energy sources, and creation of green jobs to promote environmental justice—the most comprehensive and ambitious climate change law in the United States. He was an early champion of the successful campaign to ban high-volume fracking for fossil fuels, and sponsored legislation to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals and to make producers responsible for recycling or disposing of products at the end of their useful life. He has served on the Environmental Committee during each of his years in the legislature and is on the Board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. His work has earned him the League of Conservation Voters Eco-Star Award, and top ratings each year from LCV and Environmental Advocates of New York. Local initiatives on resiliency, open space, and green infrastructure have complemented Brian’s work on statewide issues. He helped lead relief efforts after Superstorm Sandy and has advocated for ongoing neighborhood resiliency initiatives. In 2019, he passed legislation to increase Battery Park City’s ability to raise capital for resiliency measures. As an Assemblymember, he passed legislation and negotiated a deal between the City and the State to create new parkland and a mile-long esplanade that will eventually close the gap in the East River Greenway from East 60th to East 38th Street in Manhattan. He also commissioned, with then-Borough President Scott Stringer, the East River Blueway Plan, a community project to improve resiliency and public access to Manhattan’s waterfront. Promoting cleaner, fairer elections by modernizing voting and establishing effective campaign finance laws has been a central part of Brian’s work as well. He chaired the Assembly Subcommittee on Election Operations, and authored and passed many bills in that house that the Senate blocked for years, including early voting, voter registration improvements, and campaign finance reforms. With the change in Senate leadership in 2019, he joined colleagues in enacting comprehensive election reform as the first act of the new legislative session. His bill closed the notorious “LLC Loophole,” one of the most egregious failings of New York’s laws, which allowed virtually unlimited contributions to political candidates, often with contributors’ true identity hidden. The national organization FairVote presented Brian with its Champion of Democracy Award. Brian has also been an advocate for transparency in the ways the legislature does the people’s work. He co-chaired the Assembly Workgroup on Legislative Process, Operations, and Public Participation, which reformed significant aspects of the Assembly’s rules and practices. Brian began his government service as an aide to Mayor Ed Koch and served in three Mayoral administrations, working on oversight of housing agencies, helping design and manage a citywide interagency task force on fire safety and code enforcement, and improving services for homeless New Yorkers. He later served as Chief of Staff to then-Councilmember Gale Brewer and as a researcher and advocate at Dēmos where he focused on securing voting rights for low-income citizens nationwide. Born and raised on Staten Island, Brian attended Regis High School, Princeton University, and NYU Law School. He is admitted to the New York State bar and practiced law at Kaye Scholer and Schulte Roth & Zabel. He holds an Irish passport and serves as Treasurer of the American-Irish Legislators Society.
Beth R. Finkel
State Director, AARP New York
As State Director, Beth R. Finkel leads the day-to-day operations of AARP New York, the most visible and successful organization in the state advocating for New York’s 50 plus population. During her tenure as State Director, AARP’s powerful lobbying efforts on behalf of its 2.5 million New York members and their families have led to historic NYS reforms including passage of the Secure Choice Savings Program, Care Act, Assisted Living protections, Anti Predatory Lending, Paid Family Leave and Affordable Housing and Right to Counsel in NYC legislation and numerous bills on Kincare. Prior to her appointment as State Director, Beth was the Director of Engagement for AARP New York where she was responsible for all community programs and activities that serve the organization’s membership and engage its vast network of over 5,000 active volunteers across the state. In her role, Beth specialized in programming and advocacy for older New Yorkers around hunger, caregiving, grandparents raising grandchildren, multicultural outreach, livable communities, financial security, and long-term care. Through her years at AARP New York, she led and developed the statewide Kincare Coalition and New York’s Older Adults Hunger Stakeholders Coalition. She convened the first Older Adults Hunger Summit to find solutions to barriers to food insecurity. She also co-created the NYS Medicare Savings Program Taskforce, a consortium of government, public policy makers and advocates that works to break down obstacles to enrollment of low-income Medicare beneficiaries to this group of benefits. She serves on the Governor’s Hunger Taskforce. Beth represented AARP New York on the Governor’s SMART (Saving More to Achieve Richer Tomorrows) Commission, which helped develop the Secure Choice Savings Program, and she serves on U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s Working Group for the Aging as well as the NYC Age Friendly Commission. Beth has published numerous white papers and research reports including: Hunger Among NY State Older Adults, The State of the 50+ in NY State; Kinship Care in New York: Keeping Families Together; High Anxiety: Gen X and Boomers Struggle With Stress, Savings and Security; Countdown: New York’s Vanishing Middle Class; Caregivers in Crisis: Why New York Must Act; and Disrupting Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Solutions for New Yorkers Age 50+. A native New Yorker, Beth holds a Masters of Social Work from Yeshiva University in Community Organizing and a Bachelor of Science from American University in Business Administration. She and her husband live in Manhattan.
Reggie Nance
Associate State Director, AARP New York
Reggie Nance is a native of Cordele, Georgia and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American Literature from Brown University. Since 2015, Nance has worked as the Associate State Director for Multicultural Engagement for AARP New York, overseeing outreach to African-Americans, Blacks, and Caribbean-Americans across the state of New York. Nance is a 2018 graduate of AARP’s prestigious Community Leadership Academy. Prior to AARP, Nance worked as an Account Executive at Cumulus Media in New York City. He is the former Director for Incite New York with Emmis Communications (HOT 97, WBLS, WLIB), a social impact marketing position he held for six years, working extensively with former Mayor Bloomberg’s “Wake UP! NYC” campaign to combat chronic absenteeism and truancy in NYC public schools as well as with the New York City Department of Health on various public health campaigns. Prior to his position with Incite New York, Reggie was the Senior Market Director for Community Events for the metro New York City office of the American Diabetes Association, spending 10 years with the organization. In this role, he was responsible for a team of fundraisers, fundraising events and corporate sponsorships In 2019, Nance received the IndigoLife Magazine Black Life Treasure Award for his service and contribution to his hometown, Cordele, Ga. In 2018, he received the Humanitarian Award from Unlocking Futures for his work with mentoring youth in NYC. Also in 2018, he was crowned the Champion of the 9th Annual Stars of New York Dance, winning $5,000 for youth dance scholarships. In 2012, he received the “Community Advocate” Award from Love & Politics NYC and the “Youth Empowerment” Award from the United Federation of Teachers & Municipal Credit Union. In 2009, he received the “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year” Award from Unlocking Futures, and in 2010, he received the “Emmi” award from Emmis Communications, for “Best Community Service” campaign for his work with the New York City Department of Health. Nance is a proud founding member of My Brother’s Keeper-Cordele/My Sister’s Keeper-Cordele.

Opening Remarks and Introduction by Jon Lentz, Editor-in-Chief, City & State NY


Welcome Remarks by Beth Finkel, State Director, AARP NY


Remarks by Reggie Nance, Associate State Director, AARP NY



Senator Simcha Felder
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus
Senator Andrew Gounardes 
Senator Brian Kavanagh
Assemblymember N Nick Perry 
Senator Roxanne J. Persaud
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon


Closing Remarks by Reggie Nance, Associate State Director, AARP NY

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