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Leadership

The New York Democratic Lawyers Council is a grass-roots organization. Governed by a Steering Committee and elected officers, membership is open to all who share the organization's goals. Biographies of some of our members are set forth below:

John Nonna, Co-Chair, is a Partner with Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, a Co-Chair of the NYDLC and a member of its Steering Committee. As Co-Chair, he coordinates the overall strategy of the organization. Long active in Democratic politics, Mr. Nonna was the mayor of the Village of Pleasantville, New York,from 1995 to 2003 and is currently a Westchester County Legislator. In 2004 he was a legal observer in Florida for Kerry-Edwards. Mr. Nonna holds an A.B. from Princeton University and a J.D. from New York University. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Carol Schrager, Co-Chair, Carol A. Schrager, Co-Chair of the NYDLC, coordinates the overall strategy of the organization, and serves as a member of its Steering Committee. She is an attorney who counsels and represents diverse individuals, corporate and insurance company clients in a wide-ranging private civil practice. In 2012, Ms. Schrager was part of the election protection operation run by a team of senior attorneys deployed to work within the Board of Elections in Cleveland, Ohio. During the election cycle prior to that, Ms. Schrager recruited, trained, coordinated and supervised a team of NYDLC volunteer attorney poll watchers embedded within the campaign headquarters of the incumbent Congressman in the upstate New York Congressional District where she herself had run for Congress in the special election in 2009. Ms. Schrager has hosted numerous successful fundraising events at her home for Congressional candidates from around the country. A long-time Director of the New York Women’s Bar Association and its charitable foundation (dedicated to the empowerment of female lawyers, judges and litigants), Ms. Schrager is a graduate of the Harvard Law School where she was an editor-in-chief of the Harvard Women’s Law Journal.

Ekow Yankah, Co-Chair, Ekow Yankah is an Associate Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School. As Co-Chair Mr. Yankah assists in coordinating projects and initiatives in the Downstate Region, as well as setting strategy for NYDLC as a whole. Mr. Yankah has experience working on and monitoring campaigns in New York and Illinois. He also currently sits on the Board of Directors for the American Constitutional Society and is a frequent speaker on topics that range from civil rights to campaign finance reform. Professor Yankah’s scholarship has appeared in a variety of law reviews and peer reviewed legal theory journals with a focus on exploring the intersection of analytical jurisprudence, criminal law and political theory. Mr. Yankah holds a B.A from the University of Michigan, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and a B.C.L. (post graduate law degree) from Oxford.

Alex Voetsch, Executive Director, Alex Voetsch, Executive Director, is a full time staff member of NYDLC. Alex joined the NYDLC in the spring of 2010 with a focus on building the NYDLC's presence across New York State and helping the organization achieve its legislative goals. Previously, Alex worked in governmental affairs for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrator where he focused on improving public education in New York City and across the state. Alex recently completed a political fellowship through the New Leaders Council Institute, an organization that is designed to train and support the next generation of progressive political leaders across the country. His work in Democratic politics began as an intern for former Assemblyman Steven Sanders and he has been politically active in his community ever since. Alex holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Rochester.

Jeanne Murphy, Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair, is General Counsel of Actimize Inc., a software company, a member of the NYDLC's Steering Committee, and the Chair of its Finance Committee. During the 2004 election cycle, Jeanne was an active participant in the Lawyers for Kerry swing state project. She has also worked on behalf of Pennsylvania's 6th District Democratic Congressional candidate, Lois Murphy, in 2004 and 2006. Ms. Murphy holds an A.B. degree from Brown University and a J.D. from St. John's University School of Law.

Neha Dewan, Secretary, Neha Dewan serves as the Secretary of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council. She is currently an attorney at the New York City Department of Education (DOE) in the Special Education Appeals Unit in the Office of the General Counsel. Prior to joining the DOE, Neha was an Associate at DLA Piper LLP. She is a graduate of Syracuse University, and received a J.D. from the Washington College of Law at American University. Neha led the New York Chapter for South Asians for Obama during the 2012 presidential election, serves on the board of the New Leaders Council, and the South Asian Bar Association.

Leonard Kohen, Vice President Downstate Region, an attorney in private practice, is a member of the legislative agenda, political outreach and communication committees, and, as our Secretary, is the official recordkeeper of the NYDLC. Mr. Kohen monitored the 2008 election throughout the duration of early voting in Miami-Dade County in Florida and also the 2004 election in Scranton, Pennsylvania. During the New York City 2006 Election Day poll-monitoring operation, Mr. Kohen coordinated logistics of more than 60 lawyers among targeted polling sites in Kings, New York and Richmond Counties. In 2008, he worked as an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, defending the newly enacted Connecticut campaign finance system, the Citizens' Election Program, against constitutional challenges in federal litigation. Mr. Kohen began his career as a speechwriter at the Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations, where he wrote policy speeches post-1997 Asian financial crisis on governance and social and economic development; he also was part of Thai delegations to working groups that drafted procedure and other regulations for the International Criminal Court. Mr. Kohen holds a B.A. from New York University Gallatin School and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Frank Streng, Westchester/Lower Hudson Valley Chapter Co-Chair, is a co-administrative partner of the White Plains law firm of McCarthy Fingar LLP. He co-chairs the firm’s Trusts and Estates group and is a litigator on trusts and estates-related matters in the Surrogate’s Court of various counties. He is a member of the NYDLC Steering Committee and the Chair of its Westchester Chapter. He is also politically active in the Democratic Party in Westchester County in various respects, including as a district leader for the Town of Cortlandt Democratic Committee. As chair of the Westchester Chapter, Mr. Streng organized and moderated Westchester County's first seminar on Election Law in October of 2005, as part of a program sponsored by the Westchester Women’s Bar Association. In 2004 he was a legal observer in Pennsylvania for Kerry-Edwards. He also helped manage Westchester’s first Voter Protection effort, in which 38 lawyers and other advocates monitored the 2005 election in Westchester County. Mr. Streng holds a B.A. in Political Science from Lehman College of the City University of New York and a J.D. from Syracuse University.

Alan Goldston, Westchester/Lower Hudson Valley Chapter Co-Chair, has been admitted to practice law in New York since 1973. Currently practicing as general counsel, corporate counsel and local counsel for a diverse, international group of clients, he first trained in corporate law at Weil Gotshal & Manges, then served as a branch chief at the Securities Exchange Commission, and Special Assistant United States Attorney, before joining Paskus, Gordon & Hyman, where he was a partner until the merger of that firm into White & Case. He is a member of the NYDLC Steering Committee, and Co-Chair (with Frank Streng) of its Lower Hudson Valley Region, where he has helped organize, and has supervised, the NYDLC Election Protection effort throughout the Region. Active in the Democratic Party, he is 1st Vice Chair of the Scarsdale Democratic Committee. He organized and moderated the Westchester panel of the NYSBA CLE program on Election Law in 2008 and 2010, and has represented clients in ballot access and election litigation in Congressional, State Senate, County Legislative, and City Council races. Mr. Goldston holds a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Yale University and a J.D. from Columbia University.

Cynthia Kouril, National Committeewoman and Long Island Chapter Co-Chair, is a Partner in the law firm of Robert L. Folks & Associates, LLP, a member of the NYDLC's Steering Committee, and Co-Liaison for Long Island. A former candidate for Nassau County District Attorney, Ms. Kouril created the first county-wide election monitoring system in Nassau County in 2001, including developing training and record-keeping materials, conducting training, creating and deploying geographic routing models, and managing election day operations, voting machine inspections, mail in ballot verification programs, and recounts. Ms. Kouril holds a B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John's University and a J.D. from New York Law School.

Howard Leib, National Committeeman, Communications Committee Chair and Editor of Democratic Law Briefs, is a sole practitioner in the fields of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law as well as a consultant in the area of Children's Entertainment. He also teaches at New York University. As the NYDLC's Newsletter Editor, he produces the weekly Democratic Law Briefs, which is emailed to members of both the NYDLC and the National Democratic Lawyers Council. He is also a member of the NYDLC’s Steering Committee. Active since childhood in Democratic politics, Mr. Leib served as a legal monitor in New Hampshire in 2004 and in Virginia in 2005, helping to bring Democratic victories to both states. Leib holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he is Chair of the Alumni Association and sits on the Law School's Board of Directors.

Henry Berger, Advisory Committee Co-Chair, is an election law expert who has spent the last thirty-five years representing numerous political candidates and political committees throughout the world. Among the candidates he has represented are President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry, Vice-President Al Gore, and Mayor David Dinkins. He has also participated in international election matters, acting as counsel to the Election Law Drafting Commission of Gambia and as a member of several pre-election assessment panels in Ghana and Croatia. He has organized election day poll monitoring projects throughout New York State, and in 2004 he helped assign New York lawyers to assist in poll monitoring efforts in battleground states across the country. He has a B.S. from Lehigh University and a J.D. from the NYU School of Law.

Jeffrey Wice, Advisory Committee Co-Chair, serves as Special Counsel to New York State Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith. He is a recognized national redistricting and voting rights law expert who also serves as counsel to the Washington-based Foundation for the Future, a redistricting planning project, and has worked as the Democratic National Committee's redistricting counsel since the 1980 redistricting cycle. In 1998, he was appointed to serve as counsel to President Bill Clinton's members of the Census Monitoring Board. Wice pioneered state-federal relations as Director of the New York State Assembly's Washington, DC Office and has represented New York State, New York City, and many municipalities in redistricting matters. The Washington newspaper ROLL CALL has recognized Wice as one of Washington's Top 50 political policy makers. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at Touro Law School and is a graduate of the George Washington University and the Antioch School of Law.

Susan Hochberg, Law School Outreach Committee Co-Chair,

Mark Favors, Minority Voting Rights Committee Chair,

Benjamin Kallos, Statewide Outreach Committee Chair, is an attorney in private practice and a member of the NYDLC's Operations and HAVA Committees, where he has focused on voting systems technology and the HAVA Voter File. He has monitored New York's state-wide voter eligibility lists and has created and operated the NYDLC's VoterSearch webpage, which allows any voter in the State to look up their voter registration status and the Assembly and Election Districts in which they are currently registered to vote. Mr. Kallos holds a B.A. in Psychology, Communication and Rhetoric from the State University of New York at Albany and a J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

David Gikow, Operations Committee Chair and Webmaster, is an attorney in private practice and a member of the NYDLC's Steering Committee. He is active on the HAVA Committee, participating in the drafting of the new voting machine regulations, and the Operations Committee, programming the NYDLC's new website, and is a Steering Committee Liaison for three upstate Congressional Districts. He worked for Lawyers for Kerry in 2004, as an election monitor at various Palm Beach County early voting sites and then on Election Day. Mr. Gikow holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Rochester, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a certificate in Computer Programming from Columbia University.

Mitchell Nisonoff, CLE Committee Co-Chair, is an attorney having been admitted to the New York state bar nearly 30 years ago (in 1982). Mitch is an administrative lawyer at the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs tribunal. He serves on the Civil Court Practice Section of the New York County Law Association, and is a member of the Stonewall Democratic, Pocohantas/Powhawtan Regular Democratic (Astoria), New Visions Democratic (Jackson Heights) and Wood-Heights Democratic (Woodside/Jackson Heights) clubs, and the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens. He lives in Astoria with his domestic partner, Michael Posner. Mitch holds a B.S. from Columbia University School of Engineering and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.