A special thank you to our esteemed
2019 essay contest judges!

Panel of Judges

Spencer Barback, is a CPA and tax partner with Citrin Cooperman.  He has 35 years of experience providing complete tax, estate planning, business consulting and compliance services for businesses and individuals.  Spencer is also a Board Member and Past Chair of The Food Bank of Westchester.

Robin Buchanan is a resident of Harrison New York and graduated from Jacksonville State University with a degree in English and Communications. Before retiring for the greater good of her 3 children, Robin ran a management trainee program for Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield. She currently volunteers with her daughter’s school and with Lifting Up Westchester.

Sandra Malpica Chaiken, LCSW retired after 42 years as a Public Hospital Social Worker. She is a recognized expert in crisis management, emergency response, biomedical ethics, and the prevention of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. She serves as a consultant to the NYS Department of Juvenile Justice and is a Past Chair and member of the NYS Board for Social Work.

Matthew Darnall is a Managing Director in Modeling and Technology at Element Capital Management. He received a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BA in Mathematics from Humboldt State University. 

Nancy Garretto, RN started her career as a pediatric nurse at Blythedale’s Children’s Hospital.  For the past 30 years she has served as the school nurse for approximately 1,000 students at the combined campus of Blind Brook High School and Blind Brook Middle School in Rye Brook. 

Dr. Terry Kirchner is the Executive director of the Westchester Library System where he oversees all aspects of the 38-member public library system. His experience in various management positions at public and academic libraries spans 25 years. 

Danny Massey is a senior vice president at Berlin Rosen, where he helps lead the firm’s work on labor campaigns and issues. Prior to Berlin Rosen, Danny was a senior reporter at Crain’s NewYork Business. An award-winning journalist, Danny’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Salon, Newsday, The NewarkStar-Ledger and The New York Daily News.

Chris Porcelli was born and raised in White Plains, NY. He graduated from Columbia University in 1998 with a BS in computer science. During a 20 year career in finance, he worked for Bear Stearns (VP), American Capital Access (VP), and Vertical Capital (CTO, Partner, Board of Directors). He is currently retired and living in White Plains with his beloved wife of 13 years and their two children.

Alessandra Ravetti
 is Assistant General Counsel and Executive Director at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals where she leads a team that provides legal advice on a wide range of regulatory law issues associated with helping get new products approved by regulators and to the patients who need them.

Denise Reshard is a Housing Retention Case Manager at Lifting Up Westchester were she has been serving homeless individuals and their families for over two decades. 

Dr. John J. Russell, Ed.D is currently the Head of School at Winward and has had thirty years of experience in leadership and teaching positions in Westchester and Fairfield County including serving as Superintendent for the Hastings-on-Hudson school district for 11 years.

Paul Schwarz is a member of the League of Women Voters of White Plains, active in the Rotary Club of White Plains, "Aging in Place" organizations, and affordable housing groups, serves on the board of the White Plains Public Library and the Public Private Partnership for Aging Services, and is president of the board of Meals-on-Wheels of White Plains. Mr. Schwarz is a retired teacher of English and Public Speaking, having spent most of his career in Scarsdale. 

Sylvia Simon is a retired educator with a rich history of teaching and advising students across various grade levels. She earned a Masters in School Administration, Masters in Reading and a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She has received numerous professional accolades in the educational field including: Outstanding Principal, Outstanding Educator and Excellence in Instruction.