Who's On Our Board of Directors?
Nancy E. Laxer
President, has worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County since 1984. She currently serves as an Executive Assistant District Attorney in a trial bureau where she supervises approximately 45 attorneys as well as a large non-legal staff. Prior to being promoted to her current position, she served in various other supervisory positions and also as a trial attorney including being assigned as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Homicide Bureau. Nancy has been a member of the FFTA Executive Committee and Fund Raising Committee and has helped to raise over $ 30,000 for FFTA’s education and outreach in the community. In February 2010 Nancy was awarded the Robert N. Kaye Memorial Award by the Kings County Criminal Bar Association. Ms. Laxer’s strong commitment to the pursuit of justice and high ethical standards will allow her to bring a significant perspective to the Board of FFTA.
Karen A. Eisenberg
Treasurer, has been involved in the financial world since 1979 where she worked for 14 years at American Savings Bank, starting as a teller and ultimately being promoted to systems analyst in the headquarters when she left and moved on to become a full time parent. When Karen returned to the work force she began to work independently as a bookkeeper for many individual clients, small business and accountants and continues to do so today. Karen was involved with FFTA from its inception until 2009 as the in-house bookkeeper and has always had a special interest in the nonprofit world and the mission of FFTA. Karen served 3 consecutive terms as Treasurer for the PTA at her local children’s elementary school and the New Rochelle High School. Her knowledge and experience with the internal financial workings at FFTA and prior Board experience will serve as an asset to FFTA in her capacity as Treasurer.
Secretary - attended Binghamton University and The New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts attaining his J.D. Sam began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and rose to the level of a Senior Trial Assistant where he handled homicides and other high profile cases. In 1994 he formed the practice of Adler & Karliner, a practice that is devoted to the law of Criminal Defense. While proud of his professional accomplishments, it is his personal life that that he is even more proud of. In 1995 he and his wife became members of the Adoptive Parents Committee (APC) and successfully adopted twin boys. Besides his family and professional life, Sam is very active in the local community and for the last four years has been the Chairman of the Youth Committee at the Westchester Jewish Center overseeing all youth activities for grades 3 through 12. In addition, he serves as a Board Member for the United Synagogue Youth Metropolitan Region.
Sam’s personal adoption experience as well as his professional and life experiences make him an asset to FFTA and we welcome him to the Board.
Board Member – along with her husband, is a proud adoptive parent through FFTA. A graduate of Syracuse University, Sandra has made her career in the highly competitive field of Sports television. She developed her career at ESPN working on cornerstone events such as X Games, Great Outdoor Games and Golf. She is currently Director of Remote Operations for NBC Sports Network and is responsible for the organization, budgeting and management of all the network’s college and professional sports properties from PAC12 to Tour de France, NHL and MLS. For years, Sandra was a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s “Women Against MS Luncheon” committee, and she still participates yearly in MS fundraisers. She is also involved with the United Way, and with her husband, is an avid supporter of the animal rescue group, PAWS. Sandra’s experience in organizing and executing large events, along with the insight and experience she gained during her own adoption process will make her valuable asset to FFTA.
Board Member – has been a public librarian in the Westchester Library System, a non-profit organization, since 2005 and has a specialty in Youth Services and Social Media. She has published five, non-fiction books for children about notable African Americans, and about aspects of our government, including The Importance of Being an Active Citizen for second graders. Anne is also a book reviewer for School Library Journal. As an active supporter and involved volunteer for FFTA since 2009, Anne has helped to raise over $5,000 in gift certificates/donations for the annual silent auctions. Additionally, she has helped collect shoes, clothes and books for the orphanages that FFTA supports in Aruba. As a native Westchester resident, Anne is very familiar with the needs of the FFTA community and is appreciative of the invitation to participate on a Board that does such meaningful work in the community and throughout the world.
Marta Moya-Goldenberg (LCSW)
Board Member, is a bilingual, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is licensed in New York, Massachusetts, and Florida. Marta has extensive volunteer experience on non profits Boards including being Treasurer of Hispanos Unidos Day Care Center Board of Directors and assistant director of El Ecuatorian, an Ecuadorian newspaper. She also worked at the Brockton Dialysis Center to organize and facilitate emotional and educational support groups, and provide counseling for dialysis patients and families. Marta is certified as a School Administrator and worked as the Supervisor of School Social Workers on the Committee on Special Education in New York City where she was also the coordinator of the Surrogate Parents Program. Marta has worked with and provided counseling for disadvantaged children as well as incarcerated women. Her service to these populations has earned her several awards such as the Award for Outstanding Service to the community from the Hispanos Unidos Adult Education and the Award Valores Humanos given by channel 47 for community services. She is also a lecturer at the graduate school level on child abuse: detection, referral and treatment. Marta’s extensive experience in the social service field with various populations as well as her work with cultural and community resources make her a valuable member to FFTA and support of its mission.
Amy A. Hecht
Board Member – is the founder and clinical director of the Hecht Ribas Group for Psychological Services. A graduate of Gallaudet University’s PhD program in clinical psychology, Amy is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in adoption and families, GLBT families and disability. Amy is a local resident and along with her wife, she is the proud parent of four beautiful children including a daughter adopted from Nepal in 2010. As a member of both an extended birth family and an adoptive family Amy brings personal as well as professional experience to her passion for adoption and all members of the adoption constellation. Amy’s experience as both an adoptive parent and a member of an extended birth family as well as her training and clinical experience as an educator, trainer, and clinician in the areas of adoption, race/ethnicity and gender and sexuality have given her skills and expertise that she is eager to contribute to FFTA.
Board Member - comes to FFTA with experience in the adoption field as an adoptee and a Licensed Social Worker. Prior to returning to school for her M.S.W., Rachel worked in the field of child welfare as a Case Manager in child protective services and adoption for the state of New Jersey. As a graduate student at Columbia University School of Social Work, she studied both practice and programs, which provided valuable experience in program evaluation and program development as well as experience in clinical social work with all populations from children and families to the aging population. Upon her graduation, Rachel began a career as a QI Compliance Coordinator for one of New York’s oldest nonsectarian child welfare agencies until the birth of her first daughter in 2010. Since that time, she has had another daughter and has continued the valuable work of raising her two children as a stay-at-home mother. While raising her family, she has also volunteered as a Board Member for the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) from 2010 to 2012 and she has served as a volunteer on numerous committees for the NASW. She is passionate about adoption looks forward to beginning a new Board position at FFTA that will allow her to give back to her community while pursuing her passion.
Roberto (Rob) Olazagasti
Board Member, along with his partner, have recently become adoptive parents to their daughter through Forever Families Through Adoption. Rob currently works as a science Teacher in the New York City public school system. He is also actively involved with several gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender non-profit community organizations such as DirectEffect, The Center’s Wannabe Moms and Dads, and God’s Love We Deliver. Rob’s personal experience as an adoptive father, along with his involvement in the education system and the gay community make him an asset to the Board of Directors for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Rob is a native Spanish-speaker and he is able to assist FFTA and FFTA clients with issues that are relevant to the Hispanic community.
Board Member, is the adoptive parent of two daughters; one from Honduras, and the other from the Dominican Republic. Mr. Pitkowsky currently serves as the President of the New York City Chapter of the Adoptive Parents Committee, Inc. (APC), a parent support group serving over 3,000 New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut families. Sam has represented APC at Joint Council, The Hague Alliance, and the Advisory Council on Intercountry Adoption (ACIA), and has also provided testimony in favor of adoption on Capitol Hill and in 1994 before Congress on the Hague Treaty. With his extensive volunteer work and expertise on international adoption issues, he will be a valuable asset in the guidance of FFTA’s International program. Sam has been named one of the 2007 Congressional Angels in Adoption.
Board Member, has more than 20 years of experience in brand strategy, corporate marketing, Public Relations and creative facilitation. She has collaborated with some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Coca-Cola, Better Homes & Gardens and Reader’s Digest. Currently, she owns a boutique consulting company that provides senior-level counsel to a handpicked group of clients. In addition, she is a Program Leader for Decker Communications, where she helps business professionals become more impactful and influential speakers. Leah earned a Master’s degree in Communication Management from the USC Annenberg School of Communication and a Bachelor’s degree in Literature & Rhetoric from Binghamton University. She resides in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and several dogs. Leah has been a very dedicated volunteer helping FFTA with its marketing strategy and fundraiser events. FFTA looks forward to Leah’s creative guidance and involvement as a Board Member of Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc.
Former Board Members
Shelly Perlman Foster, (deceased)
President is currently an adjunct professor at the Westchester graduate campus of LIU. Shelly has made many strides within the Education field such as, co-founding and directing the HELP program at Manhattanville College which was developed to provide academic support to college students identified with learning disabilities. Among her Board experiences, she has participated in Section 504 & IEP Committees, Academic Oversight Committees, and has lectured on topics such as transition from high school to college or the workplace, as well as integration of technology into the classroom. She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, and as President, Shelly is able to bring her advocacy skills training, and knowledge of the local community to FFTA. She has traveled extensively for International advertising and has a working knowledge of Spanish and French. Being multilingual and connected with the Hispanic culture will serve as an asset to FFTA's International Program in the Dominican Republic. As a parent and educator, she has the skills needed to develop a collaborative environment in which to lead FFTA's Board.
Richard Cutler, (retired)
Treasurer, will assist in administrating the financial matters of the agency in addition to being able to contribute with any strategic planning of Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Richard will also be able to make a contribution to the business management aspects of the agency. His years of business planning, experience in financial matters, in addition to his varied Board experience in private sector and not-for-profit organizations, will help contribute to the start-up, planning, and management of Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Richard has assisted the agency in providing cradle care for infants awaiting placement into their forever families. Furthermore, as an adoptive father, his personal life experiences make him an asset to the Board of Directors for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc.
Hon. Joan Cooney, (retired)
Board Member, is an experienced attorney and Judge, which will enable her to advise Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. in any legal matters that may arise. Former Judge Cooney supervised a Court system of 16 Judges and 11 hearing examiners and has had extensive experience in all facets of adoption and family law. She has already assisted several not-for-profit child advocacy organizations and held positions on many committees and start up projects. Overall, Judge Cooney’s years of legal and professional experience and activities will make her an esteemed member of the Board of Directors for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc.
Yube Levin, (retired)
Board Member, will be able to oversee any marketing and advertising matters of the agency in addition to being able to contribute with any strategic planning and fundraising of Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Mr. Levin is already affiliated with many not-for-profit agencies and this experience will assist him with his decision making for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Overall, Yube’s years of business experience and professional activities make him a valuable member of the Board of Directors for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc.
Ryann Lyden, (retired)
Secretary, rejoined the Board in 2011to help manage the outreach and fundraising functions of Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. As an adoptive mother, Mrs. Lyden brings forth the “mother perspective and language” which can benefit the agency when dealing with prospective adoptive parents because she can closely relate to their needs. As an educator, Ryann can help manage the teaching and training programs the agency will sponsor. In addition,as a former member ofthe community Ryann can help represent Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. because she is familiar with the local hospitals and schools where potential clients might need assistance. With her hands on approach she is a resourceful member of the Board of Directors for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. and we are all thrilledto have her accept the role of Secretary.
Gregg Marrazzo (retired)
Board Member - has been a practicing attorney in the Intellectual Property field since 1981. Currently, Gregg is Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for The Estee Lauder Companies where he oversees the company’s patent, trademark, copyright and licensing matters worldwide. During his career, Gregg has worked for a wide variety of personal product companies such as Kimberly-Clark, Bausch & Lomb (Ray-Ban), Revlon and Playtex. Gregg has served on the Board of Directors of the International Trademark Association (INTA), the largest organization of brand owners in the world with over 5,000 members from 160 countries, for 6 years. He also was INTA's 2012 President and was selected by Managing Intellectual Property Magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in the IP industry. Before returning to New York, Gregg was a member of the Board of his local Wisconsin YMCA for several years. He also was elected Registrar of the Fox Valley Youth Hockey Association where in addition to coordinating the registration and try-out process, he was active in their fundraising efforts. Gregg is a graduate of St. John's "an organization such as FFTA must spread the word about the important work it does and needs the finances to accomplish its goals".
Elizabeth (Betsy) Sorrel, (retired)
Board Member, has had years of experience in the publishing and advertising world where she was involved in all aspects of publishing, with a focus on marketing and sales. In addition, Betsy has extensive experience in fundraising through her years of active volunteer work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Westchester and New York Chapters, and the Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, Connecticut. Betsy was instrumental in assisting FFTA to raise over $ 30,000.00 at its first annual major fund raising event. She is currently a Sales Executive with Prudential Connecticut Realty. Betsy’s experience in the marketing and fundraising arenas, and volunteer work for not-for-profit agencies, as well as her never-ending enthusiasm and love for children, makes her an invaluable asset to FFTA.
Curt Launer, (retired)
Board Member, will be able to oversee any financial matters of the agency, in addition to being able to contribute with any strategic planning and fundraising of Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Mr. Launer is presently the Managing Director of an Investment firm, and is also affiliated with various not-for-profit agencies such as the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System and the Institute of Medical Research at North Shore LIJ and this experience will greatly contribute to his decision-making for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Overall, Mr. Launer’s years of business experience and professional activities will make him an important asset to the Board of Directors for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc.
Kenneth P. Martin, (retired)
Treasurer, will assist in administrating the financial matters of the agency in addition to being able to contribute with any strategic planning of Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Ken’s extensive experience working in the financial sector of numerous successful businesses, such as Control Equity Group, inc., and ACC Construction Corporation, will act as a beneficial asset to the FFTA team. In addition, Ken has worked as a financial advisor for more than 20 years, helping developing companies to reorganize and perform to their highest potential. With his love of children and his eagerness to assist non profits with their fundraising efforts, Ken will be an exceptional contribution to FFTA.
Brendan McKiernan, (retired)
Board Member, is one of FFTA’s proud adoptive fathers. Brendan completed his formal education at Fordham University and graduated with a degree in Business Management. He currently works as bartending manager in Rye, New York. In the past, he worked as an investment banker for First Fidelity Capital Corporation. Brendan is also a retired fireman of the New York City Fire Department. Throughout his multiple career endeavors, Brendan has exuded a dedicated, service-oriented, and hard-working spirit. He is a Ranger fan and an avid boatman, but his claim to fame is raising his two sons with wife Lisa - one by birth and one by adoption. His experience with management and his own adoption process will be a valuable asset to FFTA.
Nancy Louden, (retired)
Secretary and retired Board Member is Vice President and Deputy General Counsel in the legal department at The Estee Lauder Companies. Nancy is a past president of The New York Women’s Bar Association and has been active in bar association and community organizations. With her legal expertise and drive to help others, Nancy will be able to support the corporate governance responsibilities of FFTA while also supporting the agency’s mission. Nancy currently serves on the Board for The Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and The MAC AIDS Fund. Furthermore, as an adoptive mother, her personal life experiences make her an asset to the Board of Directors for Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. Nancy is Chair of FFTA’s Governance Committee.
Lawrence A. Rand, (retired)
Board Member, is Senior Vice President, co-founder and director of Kekst and Company, Inc., a New York-based corporate communications counseling company, a subsidiary of The Publicis Groupe, one of the world's largest advertising and marketing companies. Mr. Rand has had extensive experience in financial public relations and investor relations. Mr. Rand is the former Chairman of the Board and remains an Honorary Trustee of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (The ALS Association), a non-profit health care organization that is dedicated to the eradication of Lou Gehrig's disease and has received that organization's Jacob Javits Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Rand has served as Chairman on the Rye Brook Village's Ethics Board, was elected to the Rye Brook Board of Trustees and then as Mayor of the Village of Rye Brook. He is currently a member of the Westchester County Board of Ethics. FFTA is pleased to have Larry offer his expertise on the financial and auditing committees.
Marlene Marcus, (retired)
Board Member, will be able to manage any teaching and training programs sponsored by Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc. in addition to being able to coordinate any fundraising drives. Prior to becoming the President/Owner of her gift basket company Mrs. Marcus was a teacher for the NYC public school system as well as Executive Secretary for a large cosmetics company. Marlene is already affiliated with many not-for-profit agencies such as the American Cancer Society and the Ardsley Education Foundation, and these affiliations coupled with the day-to-day handlings of her company make her an asset to the inner workings of FFTA. Overall, her years of not-for-profit experience and professional activities make her a highly appreciated member of the Board of Directors.