Our Leadership & Volunteers
Sonia Ossorio, President, remembers her first NOW protest at the opening night of the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in 1999, which had no women musicians and made no apologies for it. As president of NOW-NYC since 2005, Sonia has led campaigns to increase women’s rights in the criminal justice system. In 2007, she launched NOW-NYC’s campaign, “Ending the Business of Human Trafficking,” and worked with a coalition of organizations to draft New York’s first anti-trafficking legislation. Sonia received an Outstanding Public Service Award from NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Under her leadership, NOW-NYC has significantly grown its operating budget and visibility. A former journalist, she has appeared on MSNBC, Hannity & Colmes, the Glenn Beck Show, Impacto Nacional and other national and local news networks and print media.
Jean Bucaria, Deputy Director, has served in this role at the organization since 2007. She first volunteered with NOW-NYC in 2003, staffing the phones and collecting signatures in the streets on behalf of Title IX. She continues to play a key role in creating and implementing programs that support and advocate for women and girls. In 2005, she led an effort to remake the chapter’s newsletter of which she is currently Editor-in-Chief. She has expanded the efforts of NOW-NYC’s sister agency, the Service Fund, launching a financial clinic for women going through divorce and initiating an annual gift drive program for sexually exploited girls. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College and has established a record of diverse experience in program evaluation and management in the nonprofit arena.
Deborah Dewees, Development Manager joined NOW-NYC in October 2014. She was previously the Development Manager for Yaddo, an artist retreat. Prior to her development career, she was a Program Officer at the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. She has also worked at the Museum of Modern Art. She holds a Master’s degree in art administration from NYU and a Bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Texas.
Samantha Plotner, Executive Assistant, joined the staff in 2013. She first got involved with NOW-NYC as an intern and never left. In addition to managing day to day office operations she coordinates the annual Women of Power & Influence Awards and other development events. In 2014 she was selected as a Maurice Gurin Memorial Scholar by the New York City Association of Fundraising Professionals. Previously, Samantha worked for the Junior Statesmen Foundation as Staff Director of their summer program at Stanford University and for Barnard Residential Life. She is a graduate of Barnard College where she received a BA in Political Science and Human Rights Studies.
Eleanor L. Brilliant, Grant Specialist, is a retired Professor from Rutgers University; she taught social policy, women’s issues, and organization theory. Eleanor served as Associate Executive Director (Planning, Allocation, and Evaluation) at the United Way of Westchester and recently was Director of Program Development at the Volunteer Referral Center (NYC). Eleanor has been a member of the Editorial Board for Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ) and Associate Editor of Signs; she was also President of the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), National Treasurer of the NASW, and Vice President Admin./Secretary and at- large Board Member for the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). Eleanor earned an M.S.S. from Bryn Mawr College, and her D.S.W from Columbia University. Eleanor has written books and articles on nonprofit organizations, and women’s funds and foundations as social change movement organizations. Eleanor brings to NOW extensive experience in writing social policy statements, grant proposals, and working with grant-makers.
Barnard College, Political Science (’15)
New York University, Creative Activism (’17)
Barnard College, Human Rights and Sociology (’15)
Fordham University, Political Science and Communications and Media Studies (’16)
NOW-NYC Board of Directors
Judi Polson, Board Chair, has been an active NOW member for 13 years and has served on the Board in various roles since 2003. Judi has served as Board Member at Large since 2010. She served as Chapter Board Chair from 2007 through 2009, serving on the Employment Rights, Bylaws, and Nominating Board Committees. She joined NOW-NYC in 2000, first participating in the Women in the Workplace and Repro Rights Committees. She joined the Board in 2003 as Director of Membership Processing, and was elected Vice President of Development in 2005, where she brought dormant grant applications to fruition and enabled the Chapter to obtain grants more routinely.
Judi’s contributions to the Chapter extend beyond administration. She participated in the 2013 Lobby Day in Albany for the Women’s Equality Act and its followup actions. She led a cadre of demonstrators to the 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington, and in New York City, participated in the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, NOW-NYC’s 2005 Alito and 2007 Viacom actions, and the 2008 Martin Luther King Day march.
Raised on a family farm, Judi has lobbied state and federal representatives from her native Midwest as well as from New York. She holds a B.A. from the University of Kansas and an Executive M.B.A. from Duke University. She led technology projects for IBM from 1981-1992, and joined Merrill Lynch in 1993, rising to Vice-President and leading institutional markets technology compliance until 2008; she currently is a project manager for a European bank. Also, she appeared as Liam Neeson’s sister in the Oscar-nominated Kinsey; her appearance in The Onion’s 2008 online dating video segment reached “most-viewed” and “most-dugg” status; and she has been a featured background on Saturday Night Live.
Phyllis Dent, Board Treasurer, has served as the Chapter’s volunteer treasurer since early 2010. A licensed CPA and CFE in the state of New York, Phyllis works in corporate finance at Time Warner/Time Inc. Phyllis earned a BS in Accounting and an MBA in Finance from Hofstra University. She also holds professional memberships with the American Institute of Certified Pubic Accountants, and the New York State Society of CPAs.
Arthur Lundquist, Board Secretary, has been an active NOW member and has served on the Board in as Board Secretary since 2010, and before that was Board membership coordinator since 2008. In that time, Arthur has supported the cause of gender equality, choice, and the task of bringing a supportive voice to victims of violence and indifference.
As Board Secretary, he is especially proud to help arrange meetings, to take minutes for both the Board and the Service Fund Board, to solicit corrections, comments and additions from other Board members, and to have maintained them in the chapter archives. Those duties, in addition to lobbying in Albany, assisting in NOW-NYC’s ongoing fundraising goals, the picket lines, clinic escorts, protests and rallies, have “immeasurably enriched my life, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue them in years to come.”
Jane Manning, Legislative Vice President, has been a member of NOW-NYC since 1992 and served as chapter president in 2010 and 2011. An attorney specializing in criminal law and violence against women, she helped lead NOW-NYC’s successful campaigns to repeal New York’s statute of limitations on rape cases and to enact strong penalties for strangulation attacks. She advocated for better enforcement of sexual assault statutes through the chapter’s Take Rape Seriously campaign. While working for the international women’s rights organization Equality Now, she was an architect of New York State’s law against human trafficking.
She began her career as a prosecutor of domestic violence, child abuse, and sex crimes. In private practice, she represented a coalition of battered women’s organizations advocating for reversal of a New York State court decision making it easier for men who murder wives or girlfriends to invoke extreme emotional disturbance as a defense; the state’s highest court ruled unanimously in her clients’ favor.
In 1992, she was a lead organizer of the Coalition to End Violence Against women, which led a rally of 5,000 demonstrators to the steps of the Democratic National Convention, urging passage of the Violence Against Women Act.
Kim Gerstman, Development Vice President. As a fundraising professional at non-profit organizations for more than 25 years, Kim Gerstman has a wide range of expertise that she will continue to bring to her leadership on the Board at NOW-NYC. Kim has primarily worked at women’s empowerment and social justice organizations throughout her career including NARAL Pro-Choice New York, ACLU, and the Population Council — all organizations that have the values that she lives by as a feminist. During her tenure on the board, NOW-NYC has grown in stature and budget and is poised to become an even stronger force in the upcoming years. As Kim’s daughter begins college next year, she is excited that today’s NOW-NYC has involved many younger women who are becoming the next generation of leaders. They inspire her to keep working every day to ensure women’s equality.
Rebecca Rafelson, Action Vice President. Rebecca has served on the Board of NOW-NYC since 2008 and has hands-on experience motivating and mobilizing both new and diverse activists to join NOW-NYC’s ranks. She began as the Chair of NOW-NYC’s Queer Advocacy Project in 2007 and led NOW-NYC’s Gay Pride March contingent for four years. As a Board member, Rebecca contributed to the Steering Committee, the Board Development Committee, and spearheaded the Outreach Committee. Over the last two years, during which she served as Vice President of Action, Rebecca helped to devise and launch NOW-NYC’s Activist Nights, strengthening NOW-NYC’s commitment to grassroots, membership-based activism. She launched NOW-NYC’s weekly yoga program for survivors of violence and co-founded NOW-NYC’s Activist Alliance, an exclusive leadership training program that is in its third year running.
By profession, Rebecca is a fundraising and communications professional for an international medical relief association; a women’s non-profit founded on the belief that healthcare transcends all boundaries. Rebecca graduated Cum Laude from Brandeis University, with a Bachelors degree in Sociology,” “Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies,” and “Women and Gender Studies”.
Meaghan Carey, Director of Programs, has been a lifelong feminist. Before she even knew about the women’s movement, she was fighting her parents for her right to wear pants to church on Sundays. An attorney whose practice focuses on family law issues, Meaghan first became involved in NOW-NYC as an intern in 2006 and has been a board member since 2009. Meaghan believes the power of a thriving activist organization depends on people’s passions. Meaghan was instrumental in tripling the revenue of our annual Women of Power and Influence Awards fundraiser and raising the visibility and prestige of this and other chapter events. She also secured a grant with the New York Lawyer’s Alliance.
Eric Alterman, Director of Membership, has been a lifelong committed feminist, and is well qualified to serve as Director of Membership. Eric was Director and then Vice President for Membership at NARAL Pro-Choice New York—the state’s leading reproductive rights organization—for more than 16 years. During that period, he tripled paid membership from 8,000 to 25,000 members. His work building the membership base contributed significantly to a large expansion of the major donor fundraising program as well. Today he is Director of Individual and Major Gifts at Physicians for Reproductive Health, a nationally-recognized leader in reproductive health care advocacy, education and physician training.
Eric is passionate about securing and expanding reproductive rights for women and men through increased funding and political advocacy, and has extensive knowledge about reproductive rights issues, having written about them and worked for them for decades. He has been an active feminist all his life, and attended many of the historic marches for women’s rights in New York City and Washington DC since the 1970s. He was raised by a strong lesbian feminist mom long before it was mainstream, and holds her responsible for his unwavering belief in the equality of women and the need to secure that equality through political activism and agitation.
Eric considers serving on the NOW-NYC Board of Directors one of the honors of his life, and a natural consequence of his decades of feminist political commitment and development.
2014 Activist Alliance
The Activist Alliance is a dedicated group of volunteers who will commit to a one-year program with the organization. 2014 Members
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