Thane Rosenbaum

Creative Director & Founder

Thane is a novelist, essayist, and Distinguished Professor at Touro College where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society (“FOLCS”). He is the author of the widely praised novels, How Sweet It Is! , The Stranger Within Sarah Stein, The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and the novel-in-stories, Elijah Visible. His articles, reviews and essays appear frequently in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Slate, Salon, Huffington Post, and Daily Beast, among other national publications. He moderates an annual series of discussions on politics and culture at the 92nd Street Y called The Talk Show.

He serves as the national legal analyst for CBS News Radio. He is the author of Payback: The Case for Revenge and The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What’s Right. He is the editor of the anthology, Law Lit, from Atticus Finch to “The Practice” : A Collection of Great Writings about the Law. His latest book is entitled Saving Free Speech…from Itself.

e: thane.rosenbaum@folcs.org

Olivia Simon

Managing Director

Olivia Simon serves as the Managing Director of FOLCS, overseeing the production of events and supporting the direction of the organization as a whole. She has experience with content creation and storytelling across the media landscape–from executing live and virtual events, to producing video for broadcast and web, to writing and editing.

Formerly, she was a Producer with media company Stringr, where she wrote and packaged video content for news media clients, and coordinated video coverage across local and national stories. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

In her free time, she enjoys creative writing and live music.

Toogie Hampton

Content Coordinator

Toogie Hampton serves as the Content Coordinator at FOLCS, managing the organization’s social media and marketing efforts. She has held marketing, communication, event, and development roles across the non-profit sector and higher education industry, including at UNC Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University, and the American Dance Festival. She double majored in Arts Administration and Dance Performance at Butler University. On a personal note, she has a passion for the arts, loves cooking, and hiking with family.

Shervin Abachi

Producer, Director of the International Short Film Competition (ISFC)

Shervin Abachi is a Producer and the Director of the International Short Film Competition (ISFC) at the Forum on Life, Culture & Society, where he gathers short film entries on legal, social justice, and human rights issues from filmmakers worldwide. At the end of the competition, he produces the annual FOLCS Awards Night, a red-carpet event dedicated to showcasing finalist shorts and emerging filmmakers. Before becoming the Director of ISFC, Shervin served as Manager of Legal Research & Digital Marketing and Assistant Producer at FOLCS.

He earned his J.D. degree from Rutgers University School of Law, and while working at FOLCS, Shervin is simultaneously working as an entertainment and artist immigration attorney in New York and New Jersy. In addition, Shervin has significant experience in civil rights advocacy and community building. He has been an active member, co-founder, and co-organizer of the Iranian Community of the Northeast (ICON) in early 2017, seeking justice for the underrepresented Iranian community in New York City.

e: shervin.abachi@folcs.org

Devina Dabholkar

Producer, International Short Film Competition (ISFC)

Devina Dabholkar is a dedicated Film Festival Producer based in New York, recognized for her steadfast dedication to cinema and impactful storytelling. Her venture into the entertainment realm started as a talent agent in Mumbai, India, at a prominent talent management and production firm. Pursuing her passion, she enrolled in an intensive conservatory program at the New York Film Academy, where she polished her production acumen, earning both a Talent Scholarship and a Dean’s List distinction.

Devina’s multifaceted entertainment experience, flair for storytelling, talent management proficiency, and natural ability to forge connections make her a standout figure in the cinematic arena. As the Production Manager at the FOLCS International Short Film Festival & Competition, Devina is integral to the festival’s programming and production. Beyond her role in the ISFC, she also acts as a producer for various FOLCS events throughout the year, further cementing her pivotal position in the organization.

Devina enjoys exploring gastronomy, traveling, and meticulously curating playlists during her downtime.

Board of Trustees

There are many reasons for the exponential growth and wide public acclaim FOLCS has experienced since its founding in 2005, but perhaps most important is the leadership and guidance of our Board of Trustees. Want to learn more about FOLCS and our Board? Reach out on our Contact page.

Joe Feshbach


1981-1983: Stock Market Analyst at Forstmann Leff Associates.

1983-1991: Senior Vice President and Chief Market Analyst at Prudential Bache Securities.
During his time at Prudential Bache Securities, Feshbach was featured in almost every major financial publication and was a regular guest on financial TV shows. He was one of most widely followed stock market analysts throughout the financial world, and year after year was voted one of Wall Streets top analysts by Institutional Investor magazine.

1991-1993: Executive Vice President of Shearson Lehman/American Express.

As at Prudential Bache, Feshbach was responsible for formulating stock market strategy for the firm, and traveled all over the world speaking on stock market strategy.

While at Shearson, Feshbach started his own hedge fund, Heatherhil Capital, and managed that into the late 1990s. Feshbach now manages his own funds, with a specialty in foreign currencies.

Feshbach is currently on the board of Jay Williams’ charity of choice, Rising Stars, which helps low income kids achieve academic goals and pave the way to college through basketball.

Jeff Lenobel


Jeffrey A. Lenobel is an attorney with Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (“SRZ”), where he had chaired the Real Estate Group for over two decades and was also a longtime member of the firm’s Executive Committee and Operating Committee. Jeff practices primarily in the areas of real estate restructuring, development, finance, sales and acquisitions. His clients have included real estate funds, developers, borrowers, lenders and other financial institutions in their real estate and capital markets activities, complex financing transactions, sales and acquisitions, developments, funds, joint venture arrangements, including workouts and restructurings, and other related matters.

A veteran of the firm, Lenobel grew the real estate practice at SRZ, which today is in an elite class that completes billions of dollars in real estate transactions annually. Under his leadership, the Real Estate Group developed a reputation for producing inventive solutions to the most difficult challenges in a timely and efficient manner. In his own practice, one factor that separated Jeff from others is his hands-on approach to matters. Nationally recognized as a leading lawyer, he maintained a reputation for expediently structuring complex deals that utilize diverse financial vehicles.

An elected member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, Jeff has been consistently listed in Chambers USA, The Legal 500 United States and other ranking publications. He was ranked in the “Top 100 Lawyers in the NY Metro Area” by Super Lawyers and named as one of “New York’s Most Powerful Real Estate Attorneys” by the Commercial Observer. Jeff has chaired the Committee on Securitized Mortgage Lending and the Committee on Pension Fund Investments, both committees of the American Bar Association’s Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law. He is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Graduate School of Business at Touro College, the inaugural Alumni Admission Board at Cumberland School of Law, and was a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Cooperatives and Condominiums and the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Housing and Urban Development. At various times during his career, Jeff has served on the Advisory Boards of Chicago Title Insurance Company, Stewart Title Insurance Company and Fidelity Title Insurance Company. He is frequently invited to speak on current real estate topics at leading industry events.

On a personal level, Jeff has served on the Executive Committee of the UJA-Federation, Real Estate Lawyers Division, and the Executive Committee for the Fund to Cure Asthma of the National Jewish Medical and Research Center. An avid golfer, Jeff is a member of Colonial Springs Golf Club and The Longboat Key Club where he has serves on the Board of the Mens Golf Association. He is also involved as a longtime Board Member and Officer of The Harmonie Club in New York City.

Joel Simon


Joel Simon is a partner at the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.  Joel has more than 30 years of experience as a corporate lawyer handling complex transactions, with deep experience in all aspects of leveraged finance.  He also has represented clients in special situations investing, acquisitions and dispositions of businesses, joint ventures between financial investors and operators of businesses, corporate and financial restructurings, IPOs and general commercial advice. Joel has had wide industry exposure, including media and entertainment, technology, fintech, energy, real estate, building materials, hotels and hospitality, telecommunications, auto parts, aviation, commercial audio, retail, spirits, biotech, industrial machinery and financial services. Throughout his career, Joel has shown a commitment to pro bono work and diversity and has been actively involved with recruiting and mentoring young lawyers.

Joel has lived and worked in New York, London and Paris, giving him experience in a multiplicity of business and regulatory environments, as well as the sensitivity to bridge cultural differences among people of diverse backgrounds.

Joel obtained his law degree from the Cornell Law School in 1985 and a bachelor of science degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University in 1982.

Joel’s interests include astronomy; classic film; listening and dancing to music (ranging from swing to 1980s new wave); reading classic novels, biographies of presidents and military history; and debating subjects with passion.  Joel lives in Ridgefield, CT and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Ridgefield Academy and a former member of the Board of Trustees of Marymount International School of Paris (both non-profit, independent schools).‎  He enjoys spending time with his wife, Beth, and his three daughters, Olivia, Josephine and Luisa, and their dogs, Oscar and Remi.

Hugo Barreca

Interim Treasurer

Hugo Barreca is Chief Financial Officer of National Standard and is a member of the Management Committee.  In additional to Mr. Barreca’s role as CFO, he is a leader in the company’s government policy practice.  In this capacity, Mr. Barreca works with our policy advisors to create and implement various types of economic, social and infrastructure policy plans for our government clients.

His experience includes senior positions in management, finance, and business law with both large public corporations as well as privately held companies. He holds an MBA from New York University, a Juris Doctor of law from the Fordham School of Law, and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from The City University of New York, where he is currently completing his Doctoral Degree in Political Science. Mr. Barreca also serves as director of several New York non-profit foundations. In that capacity he has contributed to the planning and development of urban infrastructure development, zoning law, project management and implementation of smart-city technologies.

Warren Bloom

Warren S. Bloom is Co-Chair of the National Public Finance Practice and began his legal career with Kaye Scholer in New York City in the mid-1980s specializing in the representation of lending institutions in leveraged buyouts and “going private” transactions. Upon his relocation to Florida in late 1988, Warren began to focus his practice on public finance and the representation of creditor entities in such transactions (e.g., indenture trustees, bondholders, bond purchasers and credit enhancers). Since that time, Warren represents municipal security credit holders in both new and existing distressed transactions in more than half of the United States.

Warren’s experience includes active roles in bankruptcies, foreclosures and consensual restructurings of municipal transactions both in Florida and throughout the nation. His practice continues to include a substantial amount of underwriters’ counsel, bond counsel, purchaser’s counsel and credit enhancers’ counsel roles on new transactions.

Brett Feder

Brett Feder, DVM, Dipl ACVIM (SAIM) is a veterinary internist and former medical director of veterinary specialty practices. He founded a specialty veterinary internal medicine practice in Columbia, South Carolina in 1994 that over the next 25 years he and his partners built into a state-of the art multi-specialty and emergency veterinary center, South Carolina Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Care (SCVSEC). The practice grew to twenty veterinarians and over 100 employees, with emergency veterinarians and veterinary specialists in internal medicine, oncology, cardiology, and dermatology. SCVSEC was always involved and supportive in the community too, including sponsoring protective kevlar vests for police dogs, oxygen masks for pets on fire trucks, the Komodo dragon exhibit and Holiday Lights at the Riverbanks Zoo, local contemporary art, and continuing education seminars for veterinarians.

Dr. Feder earned B.S. degrees in Zoology and Microbiology and his D.VM. (1987) from the University of Florida. After internship and residency at The Animal Medical Center in New York City and three years as Assistant Professor of Small Animal Medicine at Oklahoma State University, he became a board-certified Diplomate of Small Animal Internal Medicine from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. He has lectured frequently at local, state, and national veterinary conferences, has been co-editor of a section of a veterinary textbook, and published articles in veterinary journals. He is past president of the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians and the Greater Columbia Association of veterinarians. His honors and awards include South Carolina Veterinarian of the Year (2017), the Beecham Award for Resident Research Excellence, and the Phi Zeta Award and Merck Award for Academic Excellence.

Dr. Feder has always had a keen interest in constitutional law and how it affects all of our lives, being raised by two parents who were attorneys active in civil rights. He is now retired and living in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife Karen, also a retired veterinarian, and their 3 month-old Golden Retriever puppy Gibbs. Their proudest achievements by far are their two sets of twin daughters – Lauren, Lindsey, Brooke & Bailey. Lindsey and Brooke recently graduated college and are teachers in elementary school and high school, Lauren just finished her Masters in Public Health, and Bailey is soon starting her doctorate in physical therapy.

Amanda Halter

Amanda Halter is the Managing Partner of the Houston office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, a global law firm. She is a national authority on environmental & natural resources law and policy, advising domestic and global industrial clients on complex U.S. regulatory and environmental liability matters and effective strategies for managing legal, financial, and reputational risks in the United States. Amanda frequently speaks or writes on emerging environmental and natural resource issues and developments, with topics varying from climate change to natural resource damages to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), among others. She has been featured in the media for her work by outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Law360, Dow Jones Institutional News and Texas Lawyer, to name a few, and was ranked as a “2024 Environmental Lawyer of the Year” in Best Lawyers.

A native and resident of Houston, Texas, she graduated from Rice University with dual degrees in Philosophy and Environmental Policy and a Juris Doctor from The University of Texas School of Law. She previously served on the board of the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, a refugee resettlement agency, and currently sits on the board of directors for Erthos, Inc., a utility-scale solar technology company.

Robert Hollweg

Mr. Hollweg started his legal career in a storefront in the Bronx, NY. Before joining Weight Watchers International in 1969 he compiled, wrote, annotated and edited the Emotional Distress Section of the classic legal treatise on Personal Injury Actions, Damages  and Defenses from Matthew Bender. He joined Weight Watchers, then a public company, as Assistant General Counsel  focusing on establishing and protecting the company’s legal rights  to its well known invaluable name and trademark WEIGHT WATCHERS. He transferred to the H.J. Heinz law department following Heinz acquisition of Weight Watchers in 1978. While at Heinz he served in various capacities including Director of Legal Affairs with responsibility for Weight Watchers among other functions including General Counsel and Secretary. He retired from Heinz in 1999 with its divestiture of Weight Watchers, participating in the buyout and continuing in his role as chief legal officer of Weight Watchers until his retirement in 2006.

Mr. Hollweg has had a broad  range of legal experience over his career including intellectual property matters, franchising, antitrust, advertising, securities and corporate governance issues overseeing Weight Watchers inititial public offering and listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001, two additional secondary offerings, five re-financings, and ten acquisitions including that of its affiliate WeightWatchers.com. Most recently he serves on the Boards of several not for profit organizations including FOLCS, provides legal services on a pro bono basis and  participates on the Dean’s Planning Counsel of his alma mater Fordham University School of Law and as Advisor to Fordham’s Corporate Law Center and Center for Law and Information Policy.  He is a member of the New York State and American Bar Associations and a former President of the International Trademark Association.

Jim Leitner

James Leitner serves as President of Falcon Management Corporation, a family office.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Yale in Economics with an emphasis on Russia and Eastern Europe.  He also holds a Master’s Degree from Columbia University specializing in International Finance and Russian Studies and a JD from Fordham University Law School.

Jim is on the Yale President’s Council on International Activities and formerly served on the Yale Investment Committee and Yale Honorary Degree Committee.
He sits on the Dean’s Council of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, Columbia University Global Leadership Council, Princeton University’s Institute for International and Regional Studies Advisory Council, and the Dean’s Planning Council and the Crowley Advisory Committee at Fordham University Law School.

Board Member of The Marshall Project, nonprofit journalism about criminal justice.
Mission Statement:
The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan news outlet and public forum.  In all of our work we strive to educate and enlarge the audience of people who care about the state of criminal justice.

Board of Trustees Vice President of the Montclair Art Museum.

Chairman of the Montclair Film Festival Capital Campaign.

Board of Visitors of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University.

Established The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School.
Mission Statement:
The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School is an innovative Think-and-Do Tank that aims to make international human rights protections an everyday reality for marginalized communities around the world

Established The Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy at Yale University.

In 2009, he received the Columbia University Alumni Medal for his distinguished service on behalf of SIPA.
In 2010 Fordham Law School honored him with the Eugene J. Keefe Award, which is given to the person who had made the most important contribution to the Fordham Law community.
In 2010, he received the Yale Medal which is the highest award presented by the Association of Yale Alumni, conferred solely to honor outstanding individual service to the University.  He is a fellow of Pierson College.

Shareef Malnik

Attorney and entrepreneur, Shareef Malnik, is recognized as a top restaurateur and nightlife empresario, with over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. The Forge, Malnik’s celebrated, award-winning steakhouse has been a part of the Miami Beach culture for over 50 years.

Malnik has spent the last decade in the finance world and is Chairman and Co-Managing Partner of Greyhawk Capital, a lending investment firm, CEO of Forge Legacy Investments, a financial consulting and investment firm, AIM Investment Corp, a hospitality investment firm, and CO-CEO of Sonrisa Rum, a new rum brand in development.

Malnik is Chairman Emeritus of Make-A-Wish Florida, Chairman of the MAW Ball for the last 17 years and Chairman of the MAW Capital Campaign. He considers himself blessed to co-emcee the Ball with his wife, Gabrielle Anwar, who has brought great success to the event in her own right. Under Malnik’s leadership, the Foundation has raised over $80 million. Malnik says, “Make-A-Wish is in my DNA and my top priority is to grant as many wishes to every eligible child as is possible.”

Accolades: Four Keys to the City of Miami Beach; Citizen of the Year; Honorary Police Officer; Hero Award; Police Athletic League Board Member 25 years; Community Police Relations (CPR) Foundation Board member and the Pikler Foundation’s Advisory Board for infant rearing.

Shareef has three degrees from the University of Miami, BBA, JD, MBA. He judges the law school’s annual “Law Without Walls Competition,” has lectured at the Herbert Business School and Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality.

Malnik is a Black-Belt in Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, an avid snow skier, and a fledgling golf student.Malnik resides in Coconut Grove, Florida with his wife, children, and assorted pets.

Brett Paul

Brett A. Paul has served as President of Warner Bros. Television since May 2019.

As WBTV’s top business executive, Brett is tasked with mapping its strategic direction in a multi-platform media landscape. He has direct day-to-day operational oversight of the division’s strategy and business development, original series licensing, talent dealmaking, and physical production, and he shares oversight of divisional legal and finance with Warner Bros. Discovery corporate.

WBTV is one of the entertainment industry’s most respected providers of original scripted programming, producing drama, comedy, and limited series, as well as original television movies for on-demand/streaming platforms, premium/pay and basic cable channels, and the five U.S. broadcast networks. As of December 2023, WBTV is producing nearly 40 live-action scripted series, with hundreds of additional projects in various stages of development.

Brett has personally led or been central to the Studio’s structure and negotiation of a number of high-profile writer/producer/pod agreements, including Chuck Lorre, Greg Berlanti, John Wells, Bill Lawrence, Mindy Kaling, Damon Lindelof (in each case from their original affiliation with the Studio), and many others. He has also overseen the Studio’s highest-profile talent agreements, including Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”), Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”), and many more, as well as long-term renegotiation for the casts of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Young Sheldon,” “Shameless,” “Smallville,” “Supernatural” and many others. This year, Brett is most proud of the Studio’s proactive, flexible, carefully managed approach to production, license, and talent relations issues posed by the months-long work stoppages.

Brett joined WBTV in 1995 as Vice President, Business Affairs. He has served the company in multiple capacities, including President of the Warner Horizon Scripted Television from May 2014 until its merger with WBTV in August 2020.

Before joining WBTV, Brett oversaw Business and Legal Affairs at All American Communications, and worked as a corporate legal associate at both Cahill Gordon and Reindel in New York City and Hill Wynne Troop & Meisinger in Southern California.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the following organizations: The Forum on Life, Culture & Society (www.folcs.org) since 2008, UCLA Health since 2019, and The Hollywood Radio & Television Society (since 2023).

Brett’s current hobbies include coaching his sons’ (Dean and Emmett) basketball team, taking long walks with his wife (Vanessa) and the family dog (Bodhi), pizza making, sipping reposado tequila, and rooting on his favorite sports teams. Tikkun Olam.

Veronica Relea

Veronica Relea is a partner in the New York office of the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.  Veronica has 20 years of experience representing sponsors, developers, private equity firms, and commercial and investment banks in connection with the development, construction, operation and financing of energy, oil and gas, and infrastructure projects, as well as leveraged finance transactions, asset-based facilities and cross-border financings in a wide range of industries.  Throughout her career, Veronica has demonstrated a deep commitment to diversity & inclusion and to pro bono work.  Veronica obtained her law degree from Harvard Law School and her BA in Economics (with a double major in International Studies) from Yale University.

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Veronica went off to college in the States at age 17, and New York City has been her home since 2004.  Fluent in Spanish, and proficient in French and Portuguese, Veronica has experienced brief stints of ex-pat life in Paris, Grenoble, Lisbon and Barcelona.  She enjoys (and is a practitioner of) sound meditation, breathwork, yoga, and the exploration of expanded states of consciousness.  Other interests include cooking, music (singing, dancing, listening, as well as playing Tibetan signing bowls and other overtone-emitting instruments), theater, art, psychedelics and their potential role in facilitating inner healing, the human subconscious, non-fiction, and her Puerto Rican feline rescue Jordi (she’s a cutie). Veronica also serves as Board Chair of The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center, a non-profit arts organization located in the Lower East Side.

Thane Rosenbaum

Thane is a novelist, essayist, and Distinguished Professor at Touro College where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society (“FOLCS”). He is the author of the widely praised novels, How Sweet It Is! , The Stranger Within Sarah Stein, The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and the novel-in-stories, Elijah Visible. His articles, reviews and essays appear frequently in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Slate, Salon, Huffington Post, and Daily Beast, among other national publications. He moderates an annual series of discussions on politics and culture at the 92nd Street Y called The Talk Show.

He serves as the national legal analyst for CBS News Radio. He is the author of Payback: The Case for Revenge and The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What’s Right. He is the editor of the anthology, Law Lit, from Atticus Finch to “The Practice” : A Collection of Great Writings about the Law. His latest book is entitled Saving Free Speech…from Itself.

Diane Sapir

Diane Sapir was an associate at the law firm of Finley Kumble (and its successors) from 1986-1993 practicing in the areas of securities, general corporate matters and mergers and acquisitions. In 1993 she joined the General Counsel’s office of The Wyatt Company and stayed there until 2000 when her first child turned 2 1/2.

Since then she has been a stay at home mom. She and her husband Michael have two children, one about to graduate college and one in middle school. She and her husband support many charitable causes, including the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Hirshhorn Art Museum and Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.

John Thomas

John Thomas is a Partner at Hicks Thomas LLP. Thomas’ many professional honors include his recognition among the state’s top business litigation attorneys by the publishers of Texas Super Lawyersand as one of the nation’s leading environmental litigation attorneys by the respected Chambers USA guide. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University and a Juris Doctor from University of Michigan Law School.

Thomas earned a Judicial Clerkship with Honorable Edith H. Jones, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and has been recognized for the following:

  • Texas Super Lawyers – Business Litigation – 2003-present
  • Chambers USA Leading Lawyers for Business – Environmental Litigation
  • Inside Houston Magazine – Best Environmental Lawyer