And the award goes to…

Next month, more than 700 supporters and elected officials will gather to honor the hard work of NYC’s young progressives at our 7th Annual Young Gets It Done.

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Dozens of elected officials will be in attendance, including:

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Governor David A. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, Public Advocate Letitia James, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright and more! 

Read on to learn more about each of this year’s honorees.

To purchase your tickets: BIT.LY/YGID2015.

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The Honorees

Ken Biberaj

KB-headshot

Ken Biberaj currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Since 2005, Ken has served as an executive at his family’s real estate company, which is active in Manhattan and the Bronx, and which owns and operates the iconic Russian Tea Room. Through this work, Ken has become an advocate for the hospitality industry, serving on the Restaurant Committee for NYC & Company and the Local Leadership Council of Business Forward.

Ken’s active support for small businesses and hospitality motivated him to run for City Cuncil on the Upper West Side in 2013. His presence on the political scene was quickly recognized. He was honored by City & State Magazine as one of “40 under 40” upcoming political leaders. He also received endorsements from the Small Business Coalition, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Governor David Paterson, the League of Conservation Voters and the League of Independent Theaters.

Ken is active on the Upper West Side, serving on the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center at the Amsterdam Houses, and Executive Vice President of the Ansonia Independent Democrats.

Ken received his Bachelor’s in political science at American University, his Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a JD from New York Law School.

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Alex Gleason AG-Headshot

Alex Gleason is the Policy Associate for the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Collaborating with colleagues at the CLC and affiliated organizations, Alex works to advocate for effective policies aimed at ‘lifting the floor,’ and growing the economy ‘from the bottom-up, middle-out’ for all workers.

In addition to his work at the Central Labor Council, Alex is an adjunct faculty member at SUNY Empire State College’s Harry Van Arsdale Center, where he teaches labor studies. This fall, Alex will join the faculty of his alma mater, The New School, to teach at Eugene Lang College.

Alex is originally a year-round resident of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Brooklyn.

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Andrew Gounardes

Andrew Gounardes HeadshotAndrew Gounardes is a native of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and currently serves as Counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, where he is responsible for legal and policy matters affecting the Borough President’s Office and serves as a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.

Previously, Andrew served as Director of External Affairs at Citizens Committee for New York City, and Legislative Aide for Investigations to United States Senator Robert Menendez.

Andrew is also currently vice president of the Bay Ridge Democrats, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Brooklyn Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2012, Andrew was the Democratic nominee for the New York State Senate in the 22nd District.

After Superstorm Sandy, Andrew co-founded Bay Ridge Cares, which helped prepare 25,000 hot meals for those affected by Sandy’s devastation. In addition to his local and citywide involvement, Andrew is active at a national level on issues affecting the Greek community.

Andrew is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School and Hunter College.

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Eunic Ortiz

Eunic OrtizEunic Ortiz has committed her career to fighting for full equality for all. As Director of Online Communications for 1199SEIU, Eunic manages digital communications for the largest healthcare union in the country, spanning nearly 400,000 members in the healthcare service industry.

Eunic also serves as President of Stonewall Democrats of NYC, the largest LGBT Democratic club in the state. As President, she works with elected officials and community groups to help pass legislation, build policy, and create a better city for LGBT New Yorkers.

Before joining 1199SEIU, Eunic worked with FleishmanHillard‘s reputation management group, and served as spokesperson and Digital Manager for the New York City Council and its then-Speaker, Christine C. Quinn.

In 2012, Eunic traveled to Charlotte as a delegate representing New York State in the Democratic National Convention.

Eunic earned her Master’s from New York University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida, and Associate of Arts from St. Petersburg College in Tarpon Springs, FL.

She was born and raised near Orlando, Florida.

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MYD’s Statement on the SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling

“Today’s historic Supreme Court decision on the rights of same-sex couples to marry marks a significant and important chapter in our nation’s history. By officially granting everyone, regardless of who they love, the same rights under the law, the Supreme Court has upheld the Constitution and has solidified equal rights for all. The Manhattan Young Democrats have long supported, and fought for, marriage equality and rejoices in this groundbreaking decision. We should all be celebrating today.”

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MYD’s Statement on the Call to Remove the Confederate Flag in South Carolina

“The Manhattan Young Democrats support the call by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to remove the Confederate Flag from outside the State Capitol. The flag represents a dark period in American history and its formal call for removal marks a significant milestone in the dedication of moving our nation’s race relations forward. We stand in support of the people of Charleston and we are committed to progress in the wake of such a devastating tragedy.”

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TOMORROW: June General Meeting

Please join us for our monthly general meeting TOMORROW at 7p at Gramercy Park Bar! We’ll be sharing information on ways to get involved, upcoming trainings, and summer events (including Young Gets It Done)!

This month, we’ll be joined by several folks running for District Leader positions across the city. There will be time for Q&A, so bring your questions! Candidates speaking include Kim Moscaritolo, Corey Ortega, Jenifer Rajkumar, & Arthur Schwartz. If you’re running for DL and would like to come speak to our members, please reach out to Allison at president@gomyd.com. 

**Please note: MYD does not endorse any candidates running in a primary.**

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/389625814564702/

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New Learning Labs!

*NEW* June 10, 7pm – “It Doesn’t Add Up”: An Intro to Wage Theft in the US. It’s not just nail salon workers getting their wages stolen - wage theft is everywhere, and its systematic. This Lab will analyze wage theft in the United States on both the individual and collective level, looking at how it affects both the average worker and society at large. What factors drove wage theft into becoming the most common form of property crime in the country? What are the challenges to enforcing existing labor laws, and what policies may better address wage abuse? Ultimately, what can we at MYD do about it?

Taught by Christina Isnardi
Free for MYD Members, $15 for non-Members
Register by emailing classes@gomyd.com
Location: 108 W 39th Street, 12th Floor

*NEW* June 17, 7pm – Making the Case for the Environment: Communications Strategies that Work. This workshop will look at what made opposition to fracking a success and how to apply those lessons to the key environmental challenges awaiting us in coming years, be it raising awareness of climate change, stopping the Port Ambrose LNG project, or moving the US towards cleaner energy sources. What messages resonate best with lawmakers and the public, who are the key decision makers to target, and what tactics have been proven to work? Taught by the Sane Energy Project’s Patrick Robbins, this Lab is for both environmental advocates and those looking to boost their communications skills overall.

Taught by Patrick Robbins, Sane Energy Project
Free for MYD Members, $15 for non-Members
Register by emailing classes@gomyd.com
Location: 108 W 39th Street, 12th Floor

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Interview with Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza – Director of KNOW HOW Premiering 5/27

Most importantly for me was having the opportunity to work with the youth to tell their true stories for the (TV) screen and empower them to create change in their own lives.”

Longtime MYD member, Juan Carlos, easily embodies everything our organization stands for. From engagement to true activism, Juan Carlos has dedicated his time to fighting for causes that truly speak to him. From founding the White Roof Project through MYD in 2010 to creating socially conscious films that get straight to the heart of the issue, he’s become a tremendous role model for how young people can make a difference. 

Check out the below to learn more about Juan Carlos and his latest film, KNOW HOW.

What got you started making cause driven films? 

I started a documentary production company back in 2005 that was driven by a mission to create socially conscious films. For the most part we worked with small non-profits to create short form content about their projects and people. That led to making my first feature documentary which dove into the topic of virtual worlds, chronicling the folks who have one foot planted here while the other is firmly in that other space. I’m not sure I can claim that was truly cause-driven filmmaking.

How did you get started with KNOW HOW, your latest film?

At that time my life was out of balance, and an experience mentoring young adults to better prepare them for successful careers had helped shed a completely different light on how to be happy. It led me to rethink my motivations and I started looking at the potential to do good and be good while letting everything else follow. So, in June 2010 we sat down to discuss what a movie written and starring foster care youth might look like.

The project had the potential to be uniquely powerful in that if we were successful, it could give foster care youth themselves a platform to speak their truth and with that, affect change in the system nationally. Most importantly for me at the time, though, was having the opportunity to work with the youth to tell their true stories for the screen and empower them to create change in their own lives.

Where did you find the story and script for this film? 

Each year a group of foster care youth discover a non-profit called the Possibility Project. These teenagers are chosen to participate in the program based on their desire to create a better world. They come together for one year to create change for themselves and their communities, and in the process, create an original musical from the stories of their lives.

I actually went to one of their first shows when I was in high school, and after college volunteered to shoot some of their productions in NYC. Years later, having recently finished my first feature film, I received a call from the founder, Paul Griffin — they wanted to make a movie. 

When the foster care youth enter the program, each immediately has a platform to tell their stories — their successes, failures, hardships, triumphs. After breaking into teams, they bring to life a scene from each of their lives. However, they do not perform as themselves in these re-enactments, but instead have others inhabit the role. These scenes provide a framework for what eventually becomes the storylines, and often two or three youth’s scenes become one longer story arc. 

When I first sat down with them at a roundtable, I listened, I asked questions and more questions, and I listened again. It was immersive storytelling to help transpose and transform their world into a film. We rehearsed as we re-imagined the script, with the whole process being uniquely collaborative. The film took shape through their stories, and scenes were ripped directly from their memories. A multi-protagonist plot line formed that weaved in and out of each other’s lives. Sometimes they were deeply involved in one another’s world, and sometimes they just glanced off for a moment. Somehow we ended up with a 124-page foster care epic. 

Want to learn more? Join me in tuning into Pivot TV tonight (May 27th) at 11p EST to support our friend, Juan Carlos, and spread the word on how we can help our often forgotten youth in the foster care system. Can’t tune in? KNOW HOW will be coming to DVD/iTunes on June 3rd. Check out the link to the iTunes store here - https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/know-how/id985870275

Watch the trailer >>

Learn More and Get Involved:

Website: takepart.com/knowhow

Facebook: facebook.com/knowhowmovie

Twitter: @knowhowmovie

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