Diane Rosenthal brings a life-long commitment to serving diverse communities and belief in the power of education to transform lives to her position as Executive Director at Student Advocacy
Diane began her career as a middle school English teacher in the Yonkers Public Schools and transitioned to non-profit management when she joined The New York Public Library Centers for Reading and Writing (NYPLCRW) as its Executive Director. Under her 10 year leadership NYPLCRW was recognized as one of the top ten library-based adult literacy programs in the U.S. Diane’s commitment to access and equity to education continued with her appointment as the Executive Director for Literacy Volunteers, Stamford, CT and in her positions as the Deputy Executive Director for Latino U College Access and the Executive Director for the Westchester/Fairfield County Chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
Diane joined the Student Advocacy team in 2021 first as Interim Executive Director and soon after as Executive Director. At Student Advocacy Diane has worked steadfastly to enhance community partnerships, diversify revenue, invest in staff development, and expand opportunities for students with disabilities and other challenges to access the resources to which they are legally entitled enabling them to remain in school, make progress with their learning and thrive.
Diane serves on the Board of Trustees at Temple Shalom, Norwalk, CT. She was also a founding Board member of Building One Community, The Center for Immigrant Opportunity, in Stamford, CT. Diane holds an MAT from Fordham University, completed her doctoral studies in dance history at New York University, and received her BA from Hunter College. When not at work Diane enjoys yoga, attending dance performances, and spending time with family and friends.
Stefanie joined Student Advocacy as an education attorney in 2011. Since 2014, Stefanie has been the Legal Director where she is committed to ensuring that all students have equity and access to what they are legally entitled to so that they are able to remain in school and thrive.
Stefanie represents some of our most educationally at-risk clients, supervises the advocacy staff and is the chief architect of our professional development program. She trains parents, community groups and professionals on education/special education law. Stefanie is spearheading the revision of our book for New York Parents on special education.
Stefanie also serves on the Appellate Division, Second Department Attorney for the Child Panel in Family Court proceedings.
Prior to Student Advocacy, she served the New York State Unified Court System as a Court Attorney Trial Part for 11 years. Stefanie is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School.
Carole Boccumini is devoted to children and youth. After teaching in Yonkers, Carole earned her JD from Pace University Law School. Carole joined Student Advocacy as an Education Staff Attorney and served as Legal Director for ten years. Carole brings extensive knowledge of working cross systems in mental health, juvenile justice, and education enabling her to be an exceptionally effective advocate for her clients. Carole received the Dennison Ray Award from the NYSBA in recognition of her legal representation of children and contributions to our community. Many students who Carole has helped enjoy updating her on their progress and achievements.
Attorney and educator Edith Rosenbaum joined Student Advocacy in 1999 after a career as a public school teacher and administrator in New York City. Edith’s service as Educational Advocate and attorney connects her educational experience and legal knowledge with her deep commitment to every child’s right to an excellent education. As the grateful beneficiary of a public education and as the parent of three daughters who also received public school educations, Edith is dedicated to her advocacy on behalf of the children she serves through Student Advocacy. In addition to her advocacy work Edith enjoys traveling, hiking and tap dancing.
Meryl Rosenblatt earned a law degree from New York University School of Law and an undergraduate degree in business administration from SUNY Albany. She is a seasoned corporate attorney with more than twenty years of experience in corporate law representing some of the world’s most well know businesses in multiple industries. Prior to coming to Student Advocacy, Meryl was a partner at Friedman Kaplan Seiler and Adelman, a prominent NYC law firm, and served on the Education Committee and the Children and the Law Committee of the New York County Bar Association. When moving to Westchester, she decided to pursue her passion for helping families in education matters by volunteering with Student Advocacy in 2015 and thereafter becoming an educational advocate.
Kaylan Sobel earned her Juris Doctorate at Brooklyn Law School. During that time, she worked with the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute on initiatives to improve the quality of educational programs for children birth through age eight. After her admission to the New York State Bar Association, she continued working with non-profit organizations and public agencies on programs that focused on helping children, families, and people with disabilities thrive. Prior to joining Student Advocacy, she worked on learning and development initiatives at New York City Emergency Management that helped support people with disabilities to access services during disasters. Throughout her career, Kaylan has volunteered for educational projects with New York Cares, teaching children everything from arts and crafts to robotics. In 2023, Kaylan enthusiastically joined Student Advocacy, where she collaborates with students and their families to advocate for their educational rights.
Alana Steinberg earned a law degree from Emory University School of Law after completing a BA at Brandeis University. After law school, she practiced general civil litigation. While taking time off from her legal practice to raise her three children, she moved with her family to Japan for two years, where she headed a committee at the American School in Japan responsible for bringing in speakers from around the world to help connect families, faculty and other community members from diverse backgrounds and cultures. After moving back to the States, Alana became interested in special education law and became certified as a special education mediator, mediating cases in Westchester, Rockland and New York County. She joined Student Advocacy in 2009 and for the past 11 years has tirelessly, passionately and compassionately advocated for students in special education meetings, disciplinary hearings, manifestation determination reviews and residency cases, ensuring that the rights of all students are protected under the law.
Maria Suchy-Kozak joined Student Advocacy in 2006 as an Education Advocate bringing with her many years of special education advocacy experience and professional training including participating in the first class of COPAA SEAT trainees (Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Special Education Advocate Training), now a nationally recognized training program. Her entry into this field after years in Consumer Marketing was due to her personal experience of raising and advocating on behalf of her autistic children. She has extensive knowledge in adult disability systems such as ACCES-VR, SSI, OPWDD, SEMP, and Self Direction which has been an asset both to families and school districts when providing guidance in Transition Planning. She is an active member of NYS IEP Facilitators, since the inception of the program in 2016, and has facilitated multiple meetings. She currently serves on the NY State Family Advisory Committee, whose function is to advise OPWDD of local needs for disabled individuals, having been appointed in 2019 after many years of serving in various capacities on the local Board of the Family Support Services Advisory Committee. Maria maintains her level of knowledge by participating in professional development opportunities and over the years has attended programs at William and Mary Law School ISEA Program, Practicing Law Institute, Pace Law School Special Education Updates, NYSBA, and COPAA Conferences.
As Senior Development Associate, Jamie works to support and expand Student Advocacy’s fundraising initiatives. Jamie has been working at Student Advocacy for five years and is instrumental in carrying out the annual Overcoming the Odds Awards Celebration, the organization’s signature fundraising event, communicating with Board members and donors, and raising the funds that enable Student Advocacy to continue its important work. Jamie is a member of the Association of Development Officers and is a graduate of Marist College. She lives in Scarsdale, and in her free time enjoys embroidery, reading and writing fiction and poetry.
Zac Rozenblat Information Technology and Date Associate
Zac Rozenblat leads Student Advocacy’s Information Technology and Data operations. In this role, he has helped facilitate the implementation of case and donor database management systems, unified communications platforms, and network administration infrastructure. He also assists in analyzing and utilizing organizational data for integration in policy projects and in guiding procedures. He oversees the software and hardware needs and maintenance in the organization and cultivates working relationships with external technology partners and vendors.
Zac Rozenblat’s degrees: BA, Franklin & Marshall College.
Lois Solomon-Neal has been a member of the Student Advocacy staff since 2000. Lois manages the office and is the first point of contact for most of our client cases. She provides casework support to the advocacy staff. Committed to the organization’s advocacy work, Lois has strong compassion for the children and families she speaks with helping them feel comfortable during the registration process.
Karen Blumenthal brings to the board a long history of support for Student Advocacy, vast knowledge of the educational advocacy field, and a distinguished record of leadership and service to the Westchester community. Prior to joining the board, Karen spent 27 years on Student Advocacy’s staff, first as director of the agency’s Homeless Student Project, next as the Assistant Director and later as the Policy Advocate. As Policy Advocate, she spearheaded “Solutions not Suspensions” and “Attendance Matters,” initiatives that influenced education policy in Westchester and beyond. Karen has also worked at WestCOP, Children’s Village, and Family Services of Westchester.
Karen serves on the board, executive committee and children, youth and families committee of Westchester Jewish Community Services, and is a former member and chair of the Westchester County Youth Board. Beyond her board work, Karen helped to establish Project SEED, a mental health and early education consultation program in Jewish nursery schools in Westchester. With her husband David, she sponsored the Cornell Blumenthal Summer Internship program for twenty years, placing 200 undergraduates interested in community service at 13 nonprofits primarily located in Westchester.
Karen’s degrees: BS, Cornell University; MSW, Columbia School of Social Work (concentration in community organizing and planning).
Gail Dobosh brings substantial experience working and serving the community in the spirit of Student Advocacy’s mission. Currently, she serves as co-leader of Amazing Readers, a volunteer organization that focuses on reading remediation through phonics in underserved public elementary schools. Additionally, she is active in YPIE (Yonkers Partners in Education) where she serves as agraduation coach to high school students. She is a former special education elementary classroom teacher at the Windward School and a general education teacher at Carmel Academy. She has also worked as marketing manager at American Express.
Gail’s degrees: AB, Princeton University; MBA., Columbia University; MPS, Manhattanville College (certification in childhood and special education).
Carolyn Kay co-chairs the Board’s Development and Governance Committees, and is a member of the OTO, Board Engagement, and Ad Hoc Search Committees. She is a Scarsdale native and residential real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in Westchester. Previously, Carolyn co-owned and operated The Write Impression, a personalized stationery and invitations business. She brings to the board her business knowledge and the experience of her daughters’ mild learning challenges, for which they received additional services and advocacy throughout their education.
Carolyn’s degrees: BA, University of Hartford; AA (Associate of Arts), Tobe-Coburn School of Fashion Careers.
Elana Rothschild is a social worker with a breadth of experience working with children in urban environments. She directed Mayor Daley’s YouthNet for the Northside of Chicago, organizing children’s after school services in coordination with community partners. In New York City, she was a program supervisor in the corporate mentoring program Big Brothers and Big Sisters. She also interned with Advocates for Children of New York City. In addition to her social work, Elana has worked as a special events coordinator in the development department of the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester. Currently, she is the office manager at RF Investment Partners.
Elana’s degrees: MSW Bryn Mawr School of Social Service (fellowship, Yale Psychiatric Hospital); BA, Rutgers University (with honors).
Tim Adler is an experienced investment professional who now conducts independent portfolio assessments for high net worth individuals. Prior to his current role, Tim helped to turn around and recapitalize a hedge fund, Emerson Capital. He also spent close to 10 years at JP Morgan Asset Management as a small cap specialist and portfolio manager, founding and overseeing the firm’s small cap value investment strategy. Tim brings his knowledge of successful business models and best practices, based on both his direct experience and his unique access to hundreds of company managements, to his service on Student Advocacy’s Board, Finance Committee, and Executive Committee. Additional community service includes a term on Edgemont’s school board nominating committee. He sees Student Advocacy as crucial to enabling all students to realize their potential, and he is dedicated to securing the resources the Agency needs.
Tim’s degrees: BA, Haverford College; MPPM, Yale School of Management.
Rachel Berkey brings to the Board over 20 years of combined experience in education, special education, and library science. Most recently, Rachel was head librarian at the Churchill School and Center in New York City, a K-12 school for students with language-based learning disabilities. There, she created and managed the school’s Library Media Center, designed specifically to address these students’ needs. Prior to Churchill, she was a librarian in two Westchester County elementary schools. For several years while at Churchill, Rachel was also a reading specialist in the school’s outreach program for special needs students from other City schools. As a graduate student in reading education at Syracuse University, Rachel received a Graduate Assistantship to work at the university’s Center for Human Policy. The Center supports research, teaching, and advocacy to promote the rights of people with disabilities. For over 30 years she had been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Harrison Children’s Center, a day-care center which serves the Harrison community.
Rachel’s degrees: BA, American University; MS, Syracuse University; MLS, Palmer School of Library Science and Media Studies, Long Island University; JD, Cardozo School of Law.
Brentin brings his commitment to relevant and impactful community service to the Student Advocacy Board. He is a passionate supporter of the organization’s mission arising from his personal experience as a client as well as an Overcoming the Odds Awards winner.
Brentin currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Yonkers City Council. In addition to his administrative and supervisory responsibilities he contributes to the drafting of policy and legislation. Previously, Brentin served as Executive Assistant to the Yonkers Commissioner of Parks and Recreation and for several agencies serving communities in the New York Metropolitan area. He has worked as a youth development specialist for the Administration for Children’s Services in the Bronx, a transition coordinator for the Jewish Board in Manhattan and in several roles for Center Lane, an initiative within Westchester Jewish Community Services in support of young members of the LGBTQ population.
Brentin’s Education: BSW, Mercy College; MSW, Columbia University, MSW
Carole Chaimowitz has served on the board for 11 years, including 4 as Board President. She currently chairs the Board Advisory Council. She is a former assistant director of admissions at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Manhattan, as well as a teacher and community facilitator for EPIC. She previously served on the Board of Directors for Groundwork Hudson Valley. Carole has also chaired the Edgemont Community Committee on Education and the Education Committee of Scarsdale Synagogue-Tremont Temple. Currently Carole is the principal of Garden Designs, a Westchester based landscape firm.
Carole’s degrees: BS (The Child and the Individualized Curriculum), MS, Education, C.C.N.Y. Has also completed two Certificate Programs at The New York Botanical Gardens.
André Early is a community leader with a long record of engagement with young people and agency oversight. Since 2013, he has served as Deputy Commissioner, and then Commissioner, of the Town of Greenburgh’s Department of Community Resources. For the 13 years prior to that, André was director of undergraduate and University affairs for Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. André’s management experience and community ties broaden and deepen the support the Board is able to provide to the entire organization.
André’s additional community service is also formidable. He is a former officer of Bethel Baptist Church, White Plains; a member of the White Plains-Greenburgh Chapter of the NAACP; a member of the New York Hampton Alumni Association Club, a member of Bright Hope Lodge #62; Vice Chairman of the Lower Hudson Valley Diamond Foundation; a member of the Dream Builder’s Foundation; a member of Westchester County’s Human Rights Commission, and a mentor with the local chapter of the Kappa League (NRWP Alumni Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.)
André’s degrees: BS, Hampton University; MBA, Mercy College
Aro Edwers brings to the Board decades-long experience administering county services which promote the social, emotional, and physical well-being of Westchester families and children. Aro was a program specialist for the Westchester County Youth Bureau for 17 years, and for many of those years the Program Monitor for Student Advocacy. She was also the agency’s champion, advocating for additional funding from the county. While working with Child Protective Services, Aro also referred families to Student Advocacy. Aro is now the site manager and family peer advocate for Family Ties of Westchester’s Mount Vernon office, again directing her families to Student Advocacy. She is also the CFO of Friendship For Tots, Inc., a Mount Vernon-based daycare and learning center.
Aro’s degrees: BS in Correctional Administration, University of New Haven.
Jeanne Kennedy is a long-time Board member and member of the Executive Committee, for whom service is an extension of her professional work promoting literacy. Currently, Jeanne teaches an after school literacy curriculum for Southern Westchester BOCES’ Homeless Student Program in Tarrytown, New York. She is a former classroom teacher and a remedial reading teacher/Reading Recovery teacher in Mount Vernon. In addition to serving on the Executive Committee, Jeanne is serving her third term as Board Secretary, and she co-chairs the Engagement, Development, Governance Committees. As a leader of Student Advocacy’s annual special recognition event, she is responsible for honoring student achievers on the Board’s behalf.
Jeanne’s Degrees: BA, Harpur College of Arts and Sciences; MS, College of New Rochelle.
As an attorney and community volunteer, Carolina offers a unique perspective on laws affecting students and the organization. She is an Associate General Counsel at New York Life Insurance Company, where her responsibilities include overseeing insurance regulatory compliance on an array of topics including discrimination and marketing campaign issues as well as creating future policy on evolving areas of law such as artificial intelligence. Previously, Carolina was a senior litigation associate with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York City. In that role, she managed cases related to securities regulation, white collar investigations, and a large pro bono docket with cases involving immigration issues, criminal defense, reproductive rights and gun control. She has also worked at Harvard’s Legal Aid Bureau focusing on family law issues. Carolina’s ability to converse in several languages offers her the opportunity to interact with clients and groups from around the world. Before being a lawyer, Carolina was a professional circus flying trapeze performer and instructor! Her hobbies include swimming and making ice cream from scratch!
Carolina’s Education: Harvard College, BA; Harvard Law School, JD
Dan brings experience as a board member, pro bono consultant, and volunteer for nonprofits spanning across Westchester, New York City, St. Louis, Ann Arbor and Minneapolis. His nonprofit work has focused on furthering youth educational opportunities through childhood literacy, SAT tutoring, after school programs, and English as a second language. Currently, Dan leads strategy & operations for an advertising sales team at Google. After receiving his MBA from the University of Michigan, Dan spent 2.5 years as a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York, with an emphasis on business transformations. He also worked in marketing analytics for 5 years and led a team specializing in measuring the impact of advertising within the consumer products industry. Dan’s Degrees: BA, Washington University in St. Louis; MBA, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Barbara R. Kutcher is a New York State Certified School Psychologist who has served as a consultant in numerous public schools, providing psychological services to students with challenging conditions and guidance for administration
and staff. During her tenure at the Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., she evaluated at risk youth and led individual and small group counseling sessions. Dr. Kutcher helped develop a social skills counseling curriculum aimed at decreasing violence and developing prosocial behaviors in elementary aged children. As an adjunct instructor at Pace University in Pleasantville, N.Y., Dr. Kutcher
taught undergraduate psychology courses and a variety of graduate courses in the Master’s in Counseling Program. She led supervisory groups and provided ethical guidance for graduate students in field placements. Continuing her mission to help special needs students and their families, Dr. Kutcher is currently training to become an Executive Functioning Coach. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, School Psychology Division, and of the Parent and Family Advisory Board at Boston University. Dr. Kutcher earned an M.S., Ed. and Psy.D. in School-Community Psychology from Pace University, New York, N.Y. She lives with her husband in Westchester
County and they are the proud parents of two children who are now young adults.
Barbara’s degrees: MA, Psy.D, Pace University; BS, SUNY Oneonta.
Melinda McFadden brings to our board unique expertise supporting not just individual students, but an entire student population, with special education needs. As an administrator of special education for a Bronx district in the NYCDOE with more than 6,000 students supported by individualized education programs (IEPs), she ensures best practices and access to special education services for students with diverse needs and learning profiles. As the former assessment coordinator for the Academy for Career & Living Skills in the Bronx, she oversaw evaluations of, and testing accommodations for, over 650 students with individual education programs (IEP’s) and similar plans. She continues to build educator capacity through professional development, learning series and strategic partnerships. Between 2012 and 2017, Melinda held a variety of roles at Cardinal McCloskey Community Services in Valhalla. In her final 2 years, as Director of Day Services, she led operations for 7 New York programs for adults with developmental disabilities and neuropsychological disorders. Melinda’s Degrees: BA, University of Delaware; MS, Pace University; MS, College of Saint Rose.
Tracy Nathanson is a psychotherapist and clinical social worker with training in multiple therapeutic approaches. She operates her own mental health practice, Pace of Mind Therapy. Prior to that, she was on the staff at Washington Square Institute, which provides affordable mental health services to individuals and families. Tracy has also been a social worker at the Pelham Guidance Council, and a therapist at Four Winds Hospital. Prior to becoming a therapist, Tracy worked in broadcast Journalism in a variety of roles. Tracy is an active member of Impact100 Westchester, a former member of the board of the Scarsdale Task Force on Drugs and Alcohol, and the Scarsdale School Board Nominating Committee. Tracy was drawn to Student Advocacy because she knows firsthand the importance of advocating for educational accommodations, and she believes deeply that all students deserve to maximize their potential.
Tracy’s degrees: MSW, Fordham Graduate School of Social Service; MA (Journalism), New York University; BA, Barnard College.
William Schecter heads Student Advocacy’s Audit Committee and is an attorney and labor arbitrator. He is a contract arbitrator named in several private and public sector collective bargaining agreements and is listed on many national arbitration panels. He has been a vice president at two multinational corporationsand served on the boards of directors of two joint labor-management nonprofit training organizations.
William’s degrees: BA, Lafayette College; JD, Fordham Law School.
Pat White has spent her career at the intersection of Westchester’s child welfare resources, and the local population which relies on them. She worked for the county for 30 years in the area of human services, including 19 years with the County’s Department of Community Mental Health, in the Children’s Division. In 2016 she became the department’s Coordinator / Program Administrator, serving as a single point of contact for area schools and families. Among her accomplishments, Pat helped to organize Westchester County’s System of Care, for children with emotional, social, and behavioral challenges, and their families. Her primary role was to introduce the community network model to communities across the county.
Pat’s presence on the Board ensures that the communities Student Advocacy serves have a strong voice in the Board’s dialogue and deliberations.
Pat’s degrees: BS, Hofstra University School of Education; coursework, SUNY Albany School of Social Work; MPA, Marist College.
Rajeev brings to the Board a record of achievement in multiple spheres, as well as the vitality and drive that can help to propel Student Advocacy forward.
Following years of training, in 2006 Rajeev began work as a research scientist in ophthalmology at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals. He has worked for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in this capacity since 2008.
Rajeev’s volunteer and nonprofit activities are a substantial ongoing commitment. In 2007 he co-founded the Khaleel Memorial Society, which provides financial support to high achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds in India, so that they can pursue their educational ambitions.In Spring 2015, through NYU, Rajeev was a consultant for the Clinton Foundation’s Haiti Initiative, providing a Port-au-Prince company, Papillon Enterprise, with strategic advice. Through Regeneron, Rajeev has also been a mentor to high school and undergraduate students.
Rajeev’s degrees: BS, Sri Krishnadevaraya University, 1998; MS, University of Hyderabad, 2000; MS, University of Hartford, 2002; MS, Boston College, 2006; MBA, New York University, 2016.