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

Sara McFarlane

Managing Director

Sara McFarlane holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Honors) from Macquarie University and a Master of Laws with Distinction from The University of Sydney. Sara was previously at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fulcrum Media Finance, a specialist film financing company in Australia where she worked on feature films and television productions including Lion, Top of the Lake: China Girl and Mary Magdalene.

In 2016, Sara was elected vice-president of Women in Film and Television NSW, advocating for female filmmakers. Passionate about social justice, Sara has worked with the Public Interest Clearing House and Voiceless, the animal protection institute. Sara’s involvement in various philanthropic initiatives lead to her nomination for Young Woman of the Year in 2017.

Sara moved to New York in 2018 and joined the Forum on Life, Culture & Society.

e: sara.mcfarlane@folcs.org

Olivia Simon


Olivia Simon graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a Bachelor’s of Science in International Politics. As a student, she wrote a regular column for Georgetown’s newspaper, The Hoya, and served as an Editorial Board member of literary magazine, The Anthem.

In summer 2018, Olivia joined FOLCS as interim Producer. She has held internship positions at Atlas Corps in Washington, DC, and at a sustainable development start-up in Ghana.

Inspired by her international background, experiences working with people from all over the world, and her belief in the power of conversation to inform and inspire, she is excited to be a part of FOLCS’ mission. She is a creative at heart and can be found working on her own writings in her spare time.

e: olivia.simon@folcs.org

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 at NYU School of Law, where he gathers short film entries on legal, social justice, and human rights issues from filmmakers all around the world. 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. Prior to his role as 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 a Legal Assistant at Sethi & Mazaheri Law Firm in New York City. 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

Board of Directors

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 Directors.

Jeff Lenobel


Jeffrey A. Lenobel is a partner with Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (“SRZ”), where he has chaired the Real Estate Group for nearly 20 years and also is 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 include 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 has grown 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 has 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 separates Jeff from others is his hands-on approach to matters. Nationally recognized as a leading lawyer, he has a reputation for expediently structuring complex deals that utilize diverse financial vehicles.

Recent deals include the ongoing representation of the Oxford Properties Group and The Related Companies joint venture, which is developing Hudson Yards, a $15 billion development in NYC, and advising on the construction of the expansion of the main gallery at MoMA’s main campus in NYC. Lenobel also led the real estate team in advising Albertsons LLC and an investor group led by Cerberus Capital Management in the $9.2-billion acquisition of Safeway Inc., the second largest traditional supermarket chain in the United States.

An elected member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, Jeff is 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 inaugural Alumni Admission Board at Cumberland School of Law, and he is a former 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 The Longboat Key Club and a long-standing member of Metropolis Country Club, where he has served many terms as an officer and member of its Board of Governors. He is also involved as an active member of the Friars Club in New York City.

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.

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

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.

Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein, MD, FACS is a facial plastic surgeon practicing in Miami and NYC. He is married to Gorana Kuka Epstein, with whom he also practices. He has three children (with a fourth due December 2018) to go along with four dogs.

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.

Gil Goldschein

Gil Goldschein serves as Chairman and CEO of Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP) and is responsible for the continuing growth of the 31 year-old company as both a production studio and international business entity in addition to managing the daily operation. Combining business and creative acumen, he has been instrumental in setting and guiding the company’s vision regarding both network and global expansion, and with sole greenlight authority on the company’s projects, has led the sale, production and distribution of more shows over the past few years than throughout all of the company’s illustrious history.

Goldschein also played a key role in expanding BMP’s global footprint by negotiating Banijay Group’s acquisition of the company in 2010, providing BMP with access to Banijay’s international formats and Banijay with distribution of BMP formats to the international marketplace.

BMP’s current programming includes Keeping up with the Kardashians, Life of Kylie, Total Divas, Total Bellas and Citizen Rose (E!), The Real World, The Challenge, The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros and The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars (MTV), Valerie’s Home Cooking (Food Network), Born This Way (A&E), Earth Live (National Geographic), Bill Nye Saves the World (Netflix), The Selection: Special Operations Experiment (History), The Healer (TLC), GloBugz (YouTube), Ball in the Family (Facebook Watch) and Miz and Mrs. (USA Network). BMP has also produced They Call Us Monsters (PBS), Valentine Road (HBO), Pedro (MTV) and the Emmy Award-winning Autism: The Musical (HBO) for BMP Films.

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.

Brett Paul

Brett A. Paul has served as Executive Vice President of Warner Bros. Television (WBTV), the division of the Warner Bros. Television Group which produces scripted dramatic primetime television programming for each of the five broadcast networks as well as premium cable and subscription platforms, since July 2008. In March 2014, Mr. Paul was named Co-President of Warner Horizon Scripted Television (WHSTV), the division for scripted cable primetime programming, co-running the division alongside top WBTV development executive Susan Rovner. Mr. Paul reports to Warner Bros. Television Group President and Chief Content Officer Peter Roth in both capacities.

As the top business/operations/production executive at WBTV and WHSTV, Mr. Paul works closely with Mr. Roth and is directly involved with all aspects of the strategic direction and operations of both divisions, which are producing a combined 46 series as of September 2017. He is charged with direct oversight of the physical production, financial, business & legal affairs, and administrative departments for WBTV and WHSTV.

During his tenure at Warner Bros., Mr. Paul has structured and/or overseen some of the Studio’s highest-profile licensing agreements, covering series such as The DC Universe at The CW (e.g. “Arrow,” “Flash”, “Supergirl”, “Legends of Tomorrow”), “The Big Bang Theory,” “Blindspot,” “Claws”, “Disjointed”, “Fuller House”, “Gotham,” “The Middle”, “Mom,” “Shameless”, “The Vampire Diaries” and “Young Sheldon”, as well as HBO’s “The Leftovers” and “Westworld.” Mr. Paul has also been intimately involved in the structuring of high-profile talent agreements, including overall deals with producers Chuck Lorre, J.J. Abrams, Greg Berlanti, Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Patrick King, Damon Lindelof and John Wells, as well as the talent agreements for the cast of “The Big Bang Theory” and many more.

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.

Sanjay Sethi

Sanjay Sethi is the founding partner at Sethi & Mazaheri, LLC, a boutique immigration law firm. Sanjay practices primarily in the areas of asylum and deportation defense. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University, his Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and his JD from University of Miami School of Law. He also has earned a Certificate in Russian and East Central European Studies from Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from Georgetown University. Sanjay is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.

Recently, Sanjay co-founded the Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing legal services and resettlement assistance to artists who are censored or persecuted in their countries of origin. He is currently serving as the pro bono coordinator for AFI, where he has built and managed AFI’s legal program providing pro bono services globally to over one hundred artists at risk.

Prior to founding Sethi & Mazaheri and AFI, Sanjay served as a prosecutor in Union County, New Jersey, and a law clerk in the criminal division of the New Jersey Superior Court. Sanjay’s interest in and commitment to public service are rooted in his work experience at the United Nations Children’s Fund and the International Labour Organization in Moscow, Russia, as well as at Columbia University’s Public Interest Law Initiative in Budapest, Hungary, where he served as a Research Fellow.

John Thomas

John Thomas is a Partner at Hick Thomas. 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