Bronx Virtual State Legislative Forum sponsored by AARP NY

December 03, 2020  
10:00AM - 11:00AM
Event Description

Bronx Virtual State Legislative Forum sponsored by AARP NY

As state lawmakers are gearing up to head back to Albany, they’ll be making important decisions on the coronavirus pandemic response, the state budget, and issues that will impact your household finances. This virtual forum offers a chance to ask questions about your representatives’ legislative and policy priorities.  Now, more than ever, it’s important for you to be able to hear directly from your legislators. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity!

Connect with Your Lawmakers  representing the Bronx on their priorities for 2021. Join us!

December 3rd, 2020


Connect with us to discuss important topics with your lawmakers, such as:

•            Nursing Homes, Long Term Care and Family Caregiving

•            Prescription Drug Affordability

•            Financial Security

This is a free event. Registration is required to attend.


Luis Sepúlveda
New York State Senator, 32nd District
Senator Luis R. Sepúlveda was first elected to represent the 32nd Senate District in April 2018. His Bronx district takes in Parkchester, Castle Hill, Soundview, West Farms, Hunts Point, Longwood, Concourse Village, Melrose, Morrisania, Mott Haven, Claremont, East Tremont, Unionport, Westchester Square, Bronx River, and Crotona Park East. He previously served for three-terms as the Assemblyman for the 87th Assembly District, covering Parkchester, Castle Hill, West Farms, Van Nest, and Park Stratton. The diverse Senate district includes sizable populations of Latinos, African-Americans, and Southeast Asians, particularly from Bangladesh. A staunch advocate for his constituents and the people of the state of New York, Senator Sepulveda has been a champion of bolstering economic opportunity and social service reforms, especially as they affect middle class families and the working poor. His legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October 2015 addressed the critical problem of Friday release dates for parolees, which prevented their all-important next day meetings with parole officers. The new law effectively moves release dates to Thursdays, ensuring, from day one that a parolee be on a steady course when returning to the community. He has also sought economic justice, including reinstating the New York State Lottery scholarship program; seeking alternatives to financially crippling college student debt; raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour; and providing for paid family leave to help the struggling working class. He has boosted local economic development by hosting a series of workshops for local small business owners, as well as a number of job fairs that drew large numbers of job seekers and employers.
Jamaal Bailey
Jamaal Bailey
New York State Senator, 36th District
Senator Jamaal T. Bailey was elected to the New York State Senate on November 8th, 2016. He serves the 36th Senatorial district, which covers the Bronx neighborhoods of Norwood, Bedford Park, Williamsbridge, Co-op City, Wakefield, Baychester and the Westchester city of Mount Vernon. He is the Chairman of the Codes committee; and a member of the Judiciary; Crime Victims, Crime and Correction; Finance; Ethics and Internal Governance; Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business committees. Prior to his chairmanship, as the ranking member on the Codes committee, Senator Bailey dedicated his first term in office to advocating for criminal justice reform. He has spearheaded speedy trial, bail, and discovery reform in the senate. Recently, in the 2019 budget, he was able to achieve reforms in all three areas. Under his leadership, he was able to repeal the “Blindfold Law” and implement open and automatic discovery. Additionally he was able to ensure that defendants will be entitled to a speedy trial. This past year, he was able to spearhead monumental police reforms in the legislature, including the repeal of CRL 50-A, which served as a bar to police disciplinary records. Senator Bailey also passed legislation codifying the Attorney General serving as a Special Prosecutor in the event of police involved killings, legislation that requires that police must report a weapon discharge within 6 hours, and that police must provide for the medical & mental health needs of those under arrest or in custody who require it. Senator Bailey is a lifelong resident of the 36th District. He grew up in the Wakefield section of the Bronx and attended P.S. 83 in Morris Park and later attended MS 181 in Co-op City. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and received his law degree from CUNY School of Law. From a young age, Jamaal was involved in his community. He played in North Bronx Little League, has been a member of the Butler Memorial United Methodist Church, and is a member of the Williamsbridge Branch of the NAACP. During his senior year at SUNY Albany, he served as an intern for New York State Assemblyman, Speaker Carl Heastie where he was able to immerse himself in the legislative process, coming up with an idea for legislation that ultimately became law. Prior to his election in the State Senate, Jamaal served as the Community Relations Director for Speaker Heastie and as the District Leader of the 83rd Assembly District for six years.
Jeffrey Dinowitz
New York State Assemblymember, 81st District
Jeffrey Dinowitz was elected to the New York State Assembly to represent the 81st Assembly District in the Bronx on February 15, 1994. He led a team of reformers that swept into party* office in 1986 and built a strong and vibrant party* in the 81st A.D. The district includes Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Kingsbridge Heights, Marble Hill, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield. Assemblyman Dinowitz chairs the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. He also serves on the Rules, Health and Election Law committees. He previously chaired the Committees on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, Consumer Affairs and Protection, Aging, and Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. He is an outspoken supporter of addressing historic funding inequities in New York’s public education system by increasing aid to New York City schools. Assemblyman Dinowitz has authored numerous laws. Among those laws are the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2007 and National Popular Vote. Jeffrey Dinowitz believes elected officials should pay particular attention to neighborhood issues and individual constituent problems. His district office has helped thousands of people cut through government red tape with city, state and federal agencies. Whether it was leading the fight against the multi-billion dollar boondoggle water filtration plant, helping to spearhead the creation of a business improvement district in Kingsbridge or being a major force in the creation of two new middle/high schools in Riverdale and Kingsbridge, Assemblyman Dinowitz has always been outspoken on every issue important to his constituents. He has represented his community in a number of political capacities. He was elected as a State Committeeman* in 1978 and served as a District Leader* from 1986 to 1994. He served as a Delegate to his party’s* National Convention in 1980, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 and Chair of his party’s* County Committee in the Bronx from 2008 to 2016. Born in 1954, Jeffrey Dinowitz has lived in the Bronx all of his life. He is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York, the Bronx High School of Science and Bronx public schools. He has been married to Sylvia Gottlieb since 1978. They have two children and four grandchildren. Prior to his election to the Assembly he served as an Administrative Law Judge for the State of New York.
Karines Reyes
New York State Assemblymember, 87th District
Karines Reyes has been a Bronxite for nearly 20 years. Born in the neighborhood of Los Minas, Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, she identifies as an Afro-Latina. She is a registered nurse in the Oncology Department at Montefiore Einstein Hospital. Karines has two young sons and has been balancing the tasks of being a nurse, union representative, activist and volunteer without neglecting the duties of her most important job – being a mother. Her family left the Dominican Republic and moved to her father’s homeland of Carolina, Puerto Rico, in her early childhood. She immigrated to the United States with her mother when she was 6 years old. Moving to Corona, Queens, to live with her maternal grandfather, she experienced the culture shock of a place that was different and unknown. The challenge of learning English made her apprehensive, but Karines dove right in and excelled in all areas of her education. Her love for the arts and music continued to develop as she moved throughout the public school system. At Louis Armstrong Middle school in Queens, she played the clarinet in the concert band and was senior band leader. During her years at the High School of Art and Design, Karines focused on visual arts – creating an array of inspiring works of art. She majored in advertising and served as the account executive for the student-run advertising agency. After graduating with honors, Karines attended CUNY Baruch College and studied communications. During that time, she began working at Mount Sinai Hospital in the Health Information Management Department. Three years later, she had her first son. The financial demands of raising a family pushed Karines to work a second job. She obtained a position with Aramark at Mount Sinai Hospital and worked as a hospital employee and an outside contractor simultaneously. Soon after, she moved to the Physical Therapy Department as an admissions coordinator when her second son was born in 2010. While on maternity leave, she decided to return to school and pursue a career in nursing. As a student nurse, Karines volunteered in Haiti after the earthquake and participated in numerous community health fairs in the Bronx. She acquired her degree in nursing by 2013 – while working full time and managing the demands of being a mother. She graduated with the third-highest nursing average in her class and passed the boards. Shortly after, she began her nursing career at Montefiore Hospital on the In-Patient Oncology Ward. Karines attained a certification in chemotherapy infusion and worked in the hospital and as an infusion nurse at the Eastchester Cancer Center. She was an active leader and served on the NYSNA Executive Committee at Einstein Hospital as vice chair of the bargaining unit. Additionally, she has participated in lobbying for safer nurse-to-patient ratios and single-payer health care in New York State. Her leadership role has led Karines to address local community boards and build relationships with many of the city’s elected officials. Karines has also traveled around the country attending conferences as a representative with NYSNA to speak about issues affecting communities nationally. As a Latina of Puerto Rican descent, her interest in the island’s economic struggles led Karines to participate in many demonstrations both in the states and on the island of Puerto Rico, particularly in reference to health equity and human rights issues. After Hurricane Maria hit the island, she served as a volunteer nurse with the first group of medical professionals deployed by New York State. Along with a team of fellow nurses, LPNs, doctors and pharmacists, they staffed medical tents outside San Pedro Hospital in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. They provided much-needed medical services to the community. Karines has devoted much of her career, both in labor and in nursing, to helping others. She has made it her life goal to be sure to represent those who need it most and will continue to do so as the New York State Assemblymember for the 87th District.
Gustavo Rivera
New York State Senator, 33rd District
State Senator Gustavo Rivera represents the 33rd Senate District in the Bronx. Since taking office, Senator Rivera has focused his efforts on addressing issues of health inequity. In 2018, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins appointed Senator Rivera as the Chair of the Senate Health Committee. He is collaborating with colleagues, stakeholders, and constituents to improve health outcomes, increase access to health coverage, and ensure a financially viable health care system. Senator Rivera served as the ranking member of the Senate Health Committee for six years. In that role, he passed three smoking ban laws, and has been a champion of harm reduction policies. He is currently the main sponsor of the “New York Health Act.” In 2011, Senator Rivera launched the Bronx CAN Health Initiative. This health initiative shapes policies that will help tear down some of the institutional barriers that stand in the way of Bronxites having a healthier lifestyle.
Nathalia Fernandez
New York State Assemblymember, 80th District
A daughter of immigrant parents, Nathalia was raised to understand the benefit of a strong work ethic. Her father, William, migrated with his family from Cuba to the Bronx at a young age and started his own business painting apartments in his late teens to help his father support the family. William started his business and began his career in Morris Park. Nathalia’s mother, Sonia, came to the United States from Colombia and found her home in the neighborhood of Bedford Park. The Bronx has always been a home away from home for Nathalia. Upon graduating from Hofstra University, Nathalia found herself volunteering for change within the Bronx. Nathalia was driven by her compassion for her peers and neighbors, and it was no surprise when she served the 80th Assembly District as chief of staff to former Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. During her time in the 80th Assembly District, Nathalia has led numerous projects and initiatives. Under her direction, the Assembly office provided internships and numerous volunteer opportunities to high school and college students, organized events and health care services for seniors and planned numerous community events. Public service became Nathalia’s passion and provided the fulfillment she was seeking in her career. In early 2017, Nathalia accepted the position of a lifetime, joining the Executive Chamber at the highest level of state government as the Bronx regional representative for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Nathalia has worked with all sectors of government and community stakeholders to advance projects and services that benefit constituents. In addition to her numerous responsibilities, Nathalia educated the borough on the availability of the Excelsior Scholarship and the paid family leave program. She was active in awarding $10 million to the Bronx Civic Center under the governor’s Downstate Revitalization Initiative. In partnership with the Bronx borough president’s office, this project allowed Nathalia to work closely with community stakeholders and small businesses to create a uniform plan of execution on how best to utilize the grant. With her advanced knowledge of state operations and services, Nathalia looks forward to representing the district she calls home and her community as the Assemblymember for the 80th District.
Victor Pichardo
New York State Assemblymember, 86th District
Victor M. Pichardo, the youngest son of Luisa Duran and Victor Pichardo Sr., understood from an early age that public service is the noblest of callings and hard work is the cornerstone to any success in life. Born in New York City, Victor spent his childhood living in the Fordham Road section of the Bronx and the Inwood section of Upper Manhattan. In 1993, Victor and his family relocated to his parents’ homeland of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where he completed most of his elementary school education. In 1997, Victor and his family moved back to the Bronx where he finished his middle school education at M.S 143 and St. Matthew Lutheran School. Eventually, Victor went on to graduate from DeWitt Clinton High School in 2003. After graduating from the University at Buffalo in 2007 with a degree in Communications and double minors in English and Sociology, Victor pursued an internship with Senator Charles Schumer in New York City. After completing his internship, Victor became Senator Schumer’s Staff Assistant and was eventually promoted to Community Outreach Coordinator/Latino Liaison. After serving 4 years in Senator Schumer’s office, Victor expanded his career and became an Associate Director of Public Relations at Mercy College. Although it was a wonderful experience, Victor missed the life of public service and decided to return to his true calling. In 2012, Victor became the Director of Community Affairs for State Senator Gustavo Rivera in the Bronx. Victor is the youngest of three siblings, all of which serve the public good in different capacities. His sister, Rosangela, is a New York City public school teacher at the Isaac Varian Academy, P.S. 8 in the Bronx and his brother Jose is a Forensic Accountant for the U.S.Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Chantel Jackson
Chantel Jackson
New York State Assemblymember-elect, 79th District
Chantel Jackson was recently elected to the New York State Assembly to represent the 79th District. Child of an immigrant mother from Belize, and American born father, Chantel proudly claims, “Soy de Belice,” while giving honor to her African ancestors. Chantel is also a dedicated member of her community, deeply connected and engaging in work which is selfless and life-changing. She is a proud UFT member and social worker at a NYC public high school, college professor and published author. Becoming a teen mother is never an easy hurdle to overcome, but she embraced the difficulty and managed to not only survive but to thrive. After Chantel graduated from The City College of New York with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science, she took action to support her adopted community, The Bronx, by serving as the youngest board member at her cooperative and organizing multiple voter registration drives. As a college advisor for low-income first generation high school students, she has helped thousands of students get into college and receive financial aid. It was at this time, after becoming a mother, a college graduate, and a community leader that Chantel understood what spirited her passions; empowering people. She received a Masters Degree in Social Work from Adelphi University, received her license and assists high school students in their holistic wellness. Chantel was never one to back down from a challenge, but to embrace the hardships of these students’ mental, physical and spiritual health whilst employed as a Professor at The College of New Rochelle. Chantel believes that her W.H.E.N. (Wellness, Housing, Education, Now!) mission, will genuinely and totally transform her district into an even more healthy and wealthy community. Of the 62 counties in New York State, the Bronx holds the title as the unhealthiest county. Chantel wants to reduce high rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and asthma by addressing the environmental factors that are the causes for these issues. She wants to properly fund mental health services and increase insurance for uninsured and underinsured people. When it comes to housing, she wants to continue creating affordable housing, lower evictions and increase home ownership. Chantel wants to make sure the neediest school districts receive the funding owed to them by New York State. She wants to increase education in the RBCs; Real Estate, Business, Credit & Stocks.
Alessandra Biaggi
Alessandra Biaggi
New York State Senator, 34th District
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, and sat on NLC’s Advisory Board. 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.
Maggie Castro
Associate State Director, AARP NY
Maggie Castro is the Associate State Director for the New York State office of AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social welfare organization with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to the 50+ population and their families. In this role, she is responsible for community outreach, education, member engagement, local member experiences, federal, state and local advocacy organizing, and all Hispanic the initiatives for AARP in New York; while serving as a volunteer coordinator for 300+ volunteers. Maggie brings over 30 years of professional experience, in the private and non-profit sector, a background in life-coaching, for programs committed to helping people rediscover their gifts, explore new possibilities and move toward their best lives. In addition, she is an Ambassador for ‘Take the Lead Women’, a nonprofit organization aimed at preparing, developing, inspiring and propelling women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025; a recipient of 2017 Award for Queens Power Women in Business and the 2018 El Diario Women of Distinction Award, and recently joined the board of New York Association for Volunteer Administration. Prior to her current position at AARP, Maggie was the ‘right hand person’ to the Publisher & CEO of the oldest Spanish language newspaper in the country, El Diario. She is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and has worked at organizations which have had a global impact on women’s rights, such as International Planned Parenthood, Inter-American Parliamentary Group and Family Care International. Maggie is the proud mother of two successful, young professional women, and grandmother to two beautiful boys. She is a Certified Coach, a Registered Wedding Officiant, with a degree in Business Administration.
David McNally
Manager of Government Affairs and Advocacy, New York State AARP
David McNally is the Manager of Government Affairs and Advocacy in New York State for AARP, the nation’s leading nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50 years of age and older have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. Mr. McNally works with AARP colleagues statewide, in Washington, DC and around the country to design and implement strategies to create positive social change among the Association’s priority issues, including health, financial security and consumer protections. He has led every state and federal legislative campaign for AARP in New York State, including successful efforts related to assisted living, complete streets, hearing aids, hunger, kincare, long-term care, Medicaid, Medicare, prescription drugs, predatory lending, Social Security and telemarketing fraud. Mr. McNally served on Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo’s Health Transition Team as well as the Medicaid Redesign Team Workgroup on Managed Long-Term Care. He has served as a member of the NY Connects Upstate Long-Term Care Advisory Council and is currently a member of the Adirondack Health Institute Leadership Council. He has been a guest lecturer and presenter on advocacy, organizing and issue campaigns at various universities as well as at the International Federation of Ageing Conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He is a frequent television, radio and print spokesperson for AARP on national and state issues. Mr. McNally is a recipient of the Lynn Bodiford Award, the Association’s highest recognition for excellence in advocacy. Prior to his appointment as Manager of Government Affairs and Advocacy in 2005, Mr. McNally served for 11 years as the lead grassroots organizer for AARP in New York State and its over 2.5 million members statewide. From 1986 to 1994, Mr. McNally served in a variety of communications positions with the New York State Assembly, including Public Affairs Director for Majority Leader James Tallon. Also from 1986 to 1994, Mr. McNally worked with the New York State Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and as a political consultant, managing state and local election campaigns. Mr. McNally is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and communications with a concentration in broadcasting.

Opening Remarks and Introduction by Zach Williams, City & State NY


Welcome Remarks by Maggie Castro, Associate State Director, AARP New York



Senator Jamaal Bailey

Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Senator Luis Sepulveda

Senator Gustavo Rivera

Assemblyemmber Jeffrey Dinowitz

Assemblymember Karines Reyes

Assemblyemmber Nathalia Fernandez

Assemblymember Victor Pichardo

Assemblymember-elect Chantel Jackson

David McNally, AARP New York


Closing Remarks by Maggie Castro, Associate State Director, AARP New York

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