Westchester Region Virtual State Legislative Forum sponsored by AARP NY

August 13, 2020  
10:00AM - 11:30AM
Event Description

AARP NY is the proud sponsor of the Westchester Region State Legislative Forum hosted by City & State. 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 the forum on Thursday, 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.
Shelley Mayer
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.
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 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.
New York State Senator Pete Harckham
Pete Harckham was elected to the New York State Senate in November of 2018. Prior to his election, Pete has had a distinguished career in public service, most recently having served in the Administration of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo from 2015-2018. In 2015 he was appointed by the Governor as the Assistant Director of the Office of Community Renewal, responsible for the roll out and implementation of a special allotment of $4.3M in CDBG funding for Westchester municipalities. For the past two years Pete served as the Director of Intergovernmental affairs for the $3.9B Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge project. Prior to his service to New York State, Pete served on the Westchester County Board of Legislators from 2008 – 2015. Pete was first elected in November 2007 representing the 2nd Legislative District, comprising all of northeast Westchester. He was a leading voice for maintaining vital services; protecting our fragile drinking water supplies the environment; and investing in our families. In 2010, Pete was selected by his colleagues to serve as Democratic Majority Leader of the Board of Legislators. He was selected because of his progressive values, work ethic, organizational skills and for being a bipartisan consensus builder willing to reach out and work across party lines to get things done. He served as Majority Leader through 2013, honoring his pledge to serve only two terms. During his tenure on the Board, Pete understood that it is more cost effective to keep people off of expensive social services so he has been a fierce defender of investments that assist the working poor to keep working and to help families on the cusp to stay in their homes. He also passed legislation creating a Westchester County Local Development Corporation to enable non profits to obtain low interest financing to expand facilities and create jobs. Pete focused extensive energy into protecting our fragile drinking water supplies. He coauthored ground-breaking legislation to ban the waste from hydrofracking from being treated in any wastewater facility in Westchester and prohibits the brine from hydrofracking from being used on any road in Westchester for deicing or to control dust. He also got NYC DEP to agree to a pilot project to test alternative septic technologies in the watershed. Further, he successfully led critical negotiations between the county, municipalities, New York State and New York City regarding formulation and implementation of new MS4 septic requirements that has saved municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars. He also successfully led the effort to release over $20M of NYC DEP funds to address water quality challenges in northern Westchester. He helped to pass groundbreaking phosphorus reduction legislation to further protect our drinking water. He was at the center of legislative efforts to improve water and air quality, advance human rights and fair housing law as well as to protect young people from alcohol and drug abuse. He was recognized countywide as a leading advocate for the creation of affordable housing for seniors, emergency first-responders and the working poor. Before being elected to the BOL, Pete served as President of the Board of A-HOME (2004 to 2007), a not-for-profit housing corporation that builds affordable housing in northern Westchester. From 1992 to 2005, Pete served as Vice Chair of the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, a San Francisco-based foundation that supports the sustainable management of natural resources, the reduction of harmful toxins from the environment, and promotes arts and environmental education to underserved communities. Pete has been a communications professional since 1983 when he started his career on Madison Avenue and worked for ten years for major advertising agencies. From 2002 – 2008 he was President of Harckham Media Group, LLC, a strategic partnership of advertising, communications and production professionals. He also founded K&E Farms, a small horse farm in Katonah, NY, where he donated conservation easements from the farm to the Westchester Land Trust. He also converted his prior residence and farm to solar power. In addition to his professional work, Pete served on the President's Council for the Northern Westchester Hospital, was a board member for the United Way of Westchester and Putnam, the Junior League of Northern Westchester Community Advisory Council, the Livable Communities Council and for many years was a girls soccer coach for the Lewisboro Soccer Club. Pete is a lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley, having grown up in Rockland County. He moved to Katonah in Westchester in 1991 and now lives in South Salem. He has two adult daughters, Emma and Kate, who both attended the Katonah-Lewisboro public schools.
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. 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. Maggie 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, AARP NY
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 Jon Lentz, Editor-in-Chief, City & State NY


Welcome Remarks by David McNally, Manager of Government Affairs & Advocacy, AARP NY


Remarks by Maggie Castro, Associate State Director, AARP NY



NY State Senator Shelley Mayer 
Assemblymember David Buchwald
NY State Senator Alessandra Biaggi
Assemblymember Sandy Galef
NY State Senator David Carlucci
Assemblymember Tom Abinanti 
NY State Senator Pete Harckham


Closing Remarks by David McNally, Manager of Government Affairs & Advocacy, AARP NY

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