Bert E. Brodsky is founder and board chairman of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). Brodsky founded AFA in 2002, after caring for his mother, Anne, who lived with Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade.
“It took years for me to realize the scope of what was happening and how to deal with it,” he said. “There was nowhere to turn with questions, no resources for support and very little regard for how the disease affects not just the individual, but their family as well.”
Brodsky wanted to ensure that no other family would have to go through this journey alone. He imagined a place where families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses could go for help. He turned his vision into reality and created AFA as a resource for families to get information, education and support.
A leading entrepreneur, active philanthropist, proud community member and true visionary, he has devoted the last five decades to innovating numerous industries, including healthcare, technology, hospitality and real estate. Mr. Brodsky graduated City College of New York with a Bachelor of Arts in finance, economics. He is the third CCNY alumnus to receive that institution’s prestigious Finley Award.
Former Congressman Steve Israel joined the AFA Board of Directors in 2017, following sixteen years as a Member of Congress, from 2001-2017. During his tenure, he was instrumental in securing passage of funding for the Defense Department to research Alzheimer’s and potential links to brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He also served as House Democrats’ chief political strategist for four years. President Bill Clinton called him “one of the most thoughtful Members of Congress.” Israel also published two critically acclaimed satires of Washington entitled “The Global War on Morris” and “Big Guns.”
Israel is Director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University, and is a regular political commentator on MSNBC. His insights appear regularly in The New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, 6O minutes, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Fox News and elsewhere.
Israel graduated from George Washington University with a BA in Political Science. He has two daughters – one works as a farmer, the other in Pharma. His home is in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
Arthur S. Laitman, Esq. has been a member of AFA’s Board of Directors since 2018. He is a partner with the law firm of Rosenberg, Fortuna & Laitman, LLP in Garden City, NY, where he practices commercial, corporate and real estate litigation. Prior to joining the firm, he served in the Hofstra Criminal Justice Clinic.
Mr. Laitman is a member of the North Shore LIJ Health System Commerce and Industry Council, the American Bar Association, the Nassau County Bar Association and the Board of Directors of the Hofstra University School of Law Alumni Association. He was also named to the Legal Affairs Counsel to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Barry E. Berg, CPA, has served the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) since its inception in 2002. As a founding AFA board member and treasurer of the AFA Board of Directors, Mr. Berg has played an integral role in supporting AFA’s growth and expansion of its programs and services while ensuring its commitment to fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.
Serving families affected by Alzheimer’s disease is extremely personal to Mr. Berg. His mother, Phyllis, lived with Alzheimer’s disease for nine years and his father, Milton, lovingly cared for her. AFA’s Milton and Phyllis Berg Respite Care Grants are named in their honor and are awarded twice a year to AFA member organizations to provide respite care scholarships to families in need.
Mr. Berg is the managing partner of Nussbaum, Berg, Klein & Wolpow, CPAs LLP and has established himself as one of the New York tristate area’s leading advisors to entrepreneurs and their businesses. His experience as a controller and medical administrator provides him with a unique client-sided perspective that enables him to proactively advise clients in a variety of industries, including healthcare, distribution, service and technology. Mr. Berg earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration Degree in Accounting from Hofstra University and holds a Certificate in Education Achievement, Business Valuation.
Edward D. Miller joined AFA’s Board of Directors in 2016 and currently serves as its Vice Chairman.
Mr. Miller is chairman of the board of American Express Centurion Bank and a director of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. He is also a trustee of the New York City Police Foundation and Phoenix House, and a member of the AFA Board of Directors. In addition, Mr. Miller is chairman of the Partnership for New York City’s Security and Risk Management Task Force.
Mr. Miller is the former president and chief executive officer of AXA Financial, Inc., and served as a member of the supervisory board and senior advisor to the chief executive of AXA Group from June 2001 to April 2003. He majored in finance at Pace University and completed management programs at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Pace University, Long Island University and Lehman College. Mr. Miller also served in the United States Marine Corps.
Gerald (Jerry) Angowitz, secretary of AFA’s Board of Directors, brings to AFA many years of experience counseling companies on executive matters, general business management and human resources. Currently, he serves as managing director at Lloyd Staffing.
Angowitz has served on AFA’s board since 2012. He was drawn to the post, in part, because of his personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’ve served on a number of boards and am terribly impressed with the quality of commitment of AFA’s board members and staff,” he said. “It’s not a business; it’s an occupation of passion and love and it radiates throughout the organization.”
Luisa Echevarria joined the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Board of Directors in 2012, inspired by her memories of her mother and grandmother, both of whom lived with Alzheimer’s disease.
Luisa is the former Director of Community Empowerment for Univision Communications Inc. in Chicago. She earned several Emmy awards for her public service campaigns and news productions during her 30 year career. She has been a member of the board of directors of Chicago’s El Valor organization for over 20 years. She volunteers her time with several Latino service organizations in the Chicago area including Association House, Casa Central, Mujeres Latinas en Acción and Arden Shore. She joined the board of Chicago’s Equal Hope organization in 2019 and is an advocate for ending health disparities in communities of color.
Luisa was born in Cuba and moved to the Chicago suburb of La Grange in 1961. Luisa and her husband have lived in Chicago’s Lakeview community for the past 30 years.
Lee J. Brodsky joined AFA’s Board of Directors in 2021 and is the Chief Executive Officer of BEB Capital, a privately held, multifaceted real estate company. Since its formation in 2013, Lee has led BEB to become an institutional-grade owner and operator of industrial assets along the East Coast. In addition to their industrial portfolio, BEB owns and manages numerous multifamily assets and development sites in New York City and the surrounding region.
Lee oversees the overall direction of BEB and spearheads strategic planning for the business including the execution and management of key partnerships. Under Lee’s leadership, BEB launched their lending division in March of 2020, a significant component to the firm’s growth since inception. He serves on the Investment Committee, which makes continuous contributions to drive BEB’s growing real estate and investment portfolio. In addition to his contributions on the investment side of the business, Lee leads all asset management related functions. Prior to joining BEB, Lee worked as a corporate real estate advisor at Newmark in its Manhattan headquarters.
Lee holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Nathan Halegua has been involved with AFA since 2018 and joined the AFA Board of Directors in 2021. Mr. Halegua and his family are passionate champions of the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, particularly supporting research for a cure for Alzheimer’s. Mr. Halegua’s mother, Oro Halegua, lived with Alzheimer’s disease for more than five years.
Along with his personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease, Mr. Halegua brings an extensive business background to his position. He has over 40 years experience in New York City real estate and is a principal owner of Jonis Realty, a real estate acquisition and development firm, and a principal owner of Citi-Urban Management, a real estate management company. He also has extensive experience in the acquisition, management, financing, leasing and supervision of residential and commercial real estate.
Mr. Halegua is a graduate of Queens College, where he sits on the Board of Jewish Studies, and has a master’s degree from Michigan State University.
Matthew F. Didora is a Partner of the law firm of Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP. As Director of the firm’s Commercial Litigation department, he has represented clients from individuals to local businesses and Fortune 500 companies on matters such as business torts, commercial real estate, intellectual property and trademarking. Mr. Didora, a graduate of Fordham University and St. John’s School of Law, has also lectured on a variety of topics involving commercial law and authored several articles which have appeared in the New York Law Journal, Newsday, and Nassau Lawyer.
The fight against Alzheimer’s disease is a cause which is very personal to Mr. Didora. His maternal grandmother had Alzheimer’s in the 1990s, and he witnessed how the disease impacted her and the other members of his family. Those experiences inspired him to give back and help other families who are going through the same fight.
“I am thankful for the privilege of working with such a talented group of individuals dedicated to helping families cope with this terrible disease,” said Mr. Didora.
Judi Marcus is the Studio Manager for Fred Marcus Photography. She previously worked as a social worker for United Cerebral Palsy. Ms. Marcus has also served as a board member of Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn, NY, the Roslyn Public School Coordinating Council of Parents Association, and was a member of the Parent’s Committee at Emory University.
In addition, Ms. Marcus served on the North Shore University Hospital AIDS Awareness Committee, on the board of the Long Island Jewish Hospital’s Partners in Women’s Health, and was a past president of the Roslyn Chapter of the Children’s Medical Fund of Schneider’s Children’s Hospital (now the Cohen Children’s Hospital). She was also one of the founding members of the Sid Jacobson JCC.
Ms. Marcus was also the primary caregiver for both her mother and mother-in-law who had dementia.
Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. has made serving, helping, and empowering others a focus of his professional and personal life.
Fuschillo has served as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) since 2014. Under his leadership, AFA has seen tremendous growth in its membership, programs, services, revenue, and presence across the nation, while earning Charity Navigator’s highest rating of four stars for six consecutive years in recognition of its commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability.
During Fuschillo’s tenure, AFA expanded its National Toll-Free Helpline hours and accessibility, creating a web chat and text message feature that can serve individuals in more than 90 different languages. AFA’s membership has grown to more than 2,000 member offices. It launched a national, multi-year “Educating America Tour” which brings free educational conferences to communities across the country to connect them with information about Alzheimer’s disease, brain health, caregiving tips and strategies and care planning. AFA also grew its memory screening efforts into a year-round National Memory Screening Program that provides free, confidential memory screenings to individuals across the country.
Fuschillo created AFA’s Education & Resource Center, which enabled AFA to greatly increase the number of professional training seminars and therapeutic/activity programs it can provide, as well as the AFA Teal Room, an online-based library of free, daily programs to help individuals with dementia and their caregivers stay active and engaged from anywhere. Additionally, he led the creation of The Apartment—a model studio residence built in AFA’s headquarters to showcase ways that practical design and technology can greatly increase the quality of life and safety for someone living with dementia.
Fuschillo spearheaded the creation of new grant programs for community-based services and research across the country, including Project Lifesaver grants to public safety agencies to fund wandering prevention programs for individuals with cognitive conditions such as dementia-related illnesses and autism. He also guided AFA’s efforts to create a first-in-the-nation Respite Care Relief Park, a dementia-friendly place where individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers can go to enjoy the outdoors, socialize, and learn about services available to help them. The park serves as AFA’s model for future sites across the country.
Prior to joining AFA, Fuschillo served as a member of the New York State Senate for nearly 16 years, authoring more than 200 state laws, including ones to protect individuals with cognitive conditions. He authored New York State’s landmark autism insurance reform law, which enables individuals with autism spectrum disorders to receive insurance coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including behavioral health treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. The law saved families with autism tens of thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket costs for autism treatment and therapies which many insurance companies refused to cover. This built on a prior law he authored to ensure that individuals with autism receive equitable coverage from insurance companies. He also authored a law creating a state license for providers of applied behavior analysis (ABA) services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
As a member of the Senate’s Health Committee, Fuschillo worked to connect his more than 300,000 constituents with health services by regularly holding free/no-out-of-pocket-cost breast cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer screenings throughout his Senate district. He authored the law strengthening New York’s Clean Indoor Air Law to make worksites and public places smoke-free. He sponsored “Leandra’s Law,” which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car and requires all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks to prevent them from drinking and driving again. He sponsored laws which lowered New York State’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level from .10 to .08; enacted tougher penalties for repeat offenders and those who drive with an elevated BAC.
Fuschillo authored New York State’s Telemarketer “Do Not Call” Registry law, a first-in-the-nation initiative which served as the model for the federal government’s “Do Not Call” Registry and sponsored a statewide ban on over-the-counter products containing the dangerous dietary supplement ephedra. Fuschillo has authored child safety laws and helped secure new educational technology for local school districts. Additionally, he sponsored a statewide ban on dangerous drop-side cribs, which have been linked to numerous child deaths and injuries.
Partnering with breast cancer advocacy organizations, he wrote the law that requires New York State to match donations made to the state’s Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund listed on state income tax return forms. He also fought to end the practice of disqualifying adoptive parents on the basis of being a survivor of cancer or any other serious illness.
Prior to his tenure in the Senate, Fuschillo was the Chief Operating Officer of a New York-based nonprofit family service agency.
In recognition of his lifetime of community service, Fuschillo has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Autism Advocacy Award and Legislative Champion Award from Autism Speaks, The Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award for Individual Leadership and Service; the Pendl Badge of Courage Award; and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Grand Lodge Foundation. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the State University of New York and is a member of the Adelphi University Board of Trustees.