Our Leaders

In Ethical Culture, clergy are referred to as Leaders. They fulfill traditional functions of clergy, including performing marriages and other ceremonies and providing pastoral counseling. In addition, our Leaders deliver Sunday addresses, preside over gatherings, lead programs and educational series, and serve as the public voice of our community.

Dr. Nori Rost

Resident Acting Leader

Dr. Nori Rost has travelled a circuitous path in search of truth and meaning. She was a minister with Metropolitan Community Church (a queer Christian denomination) for almost 20 years before making the Unitarian Universalist turn 13 years ago. Before being appointed Leader at Ethical NYC, Nori served the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs as their settled minister since August, 2008.

Nori calls herself an “optimistic humanist” and believes we each have within us something that calls us to our highest selves. Whether that’s the evolutionary impulse that first led us ashore, the universal innate experience of love or something else, she’s still following that call and is always in awe of the miracles and mysteries of life in its most common forms.

She is passionate about social justice and has been involved in social rights activism since she was 17. She is an outspoken advocate for justice and equity and has received numerous awards and recognition for her work.

Nori holds a Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, and a Doctor of Ministry from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition, she holds a Certificate for Spiritual Direction from the Benet Hill Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Dr. Joseph Chuman

Leader

Dr. Joe Chuman recently retired as the Leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, a community he served beginning in 1974. Since 2008, he has been a part-time Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. He currently teaches at Columbia University and Hunter College, and has taught at the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.

As an activist, Dr. Chuman has worked on behalf of human rights and civil liberties and in opposition to the death penalty, as well as on many other progressive causes. He founded the Northern New Jersey group of Amnesty International in 1974, and currently serves as president of the Bergen County Sanctuary for Asylum Seekers, founded by the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County. This coalition of religious and human rights organizations provides services for asylum seekers released from federal detention.

His works have been published in the New York Times, The Humanist, Free Inquiry, Humanistic Judaism, and many other periodicals.

Dr. Richard Koral

Leader

Richard Koral is Leader at the New York Society for Ethical Culture and the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. He attended The Humanist Institute and holds a Doctor of Ministry in Interfaith Pastoral Counseling as well as a J.D. degree. Richard is a long-time member of the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester and served as president of the American Ethical Union, the national federation of Ethical Societies, from 2012 to 2015.

Dr. Anne Klaeysen

Leader Emerita

Anne Klaeysen is Leader Emerita of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, where she served as Leader from 2008 until her retirement in 2019. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling from Hebrew Union College, as well as Masters degrees in German from the State University of NY at Albany and business administration from New York University (NYU). Dr. Klaeysen is the Ethical Humanist Religious Life Adviser at Columbia University and Humanist Chaplain at NYU. She is also co-dean of Center for Education of the American Humanist Association and serves on the board of Sunday Assembly NYC. Dr. Klaeysen participates in several interfaith social justice coalitions.

Society Board of Trustees

The Society is governed by a Board of Trustees, elected from the membership of the Society.  Board elections take place each May at the annual membership meeting.  Eligibility for the Board requires being a member in good standing for at least eighteen months prior to election. Each trustee is elected for a three-year term renewable upon re-election for up to three terms.

Officers

Elizabeth Singer, President

Liz has been a member of the Society for six years.  She has served on the Membership Committee in 2014. In 2015 she became the Chair of the Membership Development Committee and oversees   the sub committees Fair Share Giving and the Caring Committee. She is also a member of the Communication’s Committee and on the Web-site Task Force. Liz began serving as President in 2016.

Prior to joining NYSEC, Elizabeth was married for 25 years.  After her husband passed in 2012 she looked for an important and worthwhile involvement to fill the void.  Ethical Culture, recommend by a friend, became just the thing.

Liz was born in Pasadena California and was raised in Whitter California.  Her childhood dream of a fashion career lead her a degree from Stevens College in Retail Management, Merchandising and Design.

After the downsizing of the garment business Elizabeth realized the time had come to move on and utilized her textile education and creative talents to start an Interior Decorative Painting business.   This became a highly successful business in Bergen County and Manhattan for 10 years.

Personal family tragedies then led Singer to her present career, Geriatric Care Manager.  The difficulties and confusion of navigating the Senior Care world lead her to earning a certificate in Geriatric Care and Geriatric Mental Health.   As an independent GCM, Elizabeth is able to help seniors and their families plan a fulfilling future servicing many countries in both New York and New Jersey.

Steve Serling, Vice President

Originally from metro-Detroit in Michigan, Steve’s path to NYSEC began in undergrad at Michigan State University when he joined an organization called the Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience (MRULE). MRULE helped bring racially diverse groups of students on campus together for roundtable discussions around different social justice issues. The group also provided community service and socializing opportunities for members to engage with each other outside of the discussions. Through MRULE Steve learned the importance of relationship building through service and socializing, and how that made their roundtable discussions more ‘real’ since there were even stronger bonds. It was an attitude Steve saw in NYSEC, with activities for members and non-members to participate in that are social, service oriented and for us as a community to learn and grow together.

MRULE gave Steve the passion to move to New York City and work in an urban school environment, where he’s currently a social studies teacher. Steve fell in love with the city and what it has to offer, including NYSEC. Growing up with both the Christian and Jewish traditions, he was unfortunately left with a few negative experiences from both, and explored other faiths before realizing he was agnostic. He did not know that there were other larger communities for those who did not believe in God, but still wished to “do good.” Steve enjoys being part of a community that is both thoughtful and caring, but also active, and that NYSEC not only talks about social issues, but puts the theory into action, be it the programs within the SSB, marches and rallies or co-sponsoring of relevant events to raise awareness within the larger NYC community.

Joseph Fashing, Treasurer

Joe is approaching his third anniversary as a member of NYSEC. Though a relative short-timer he’s been an active participant in a number of activities and committees and offered one class in the Ethical Enrichment Program, “Race Relations in the ‘Post Racial’ Society.”

Joe was born and reared in the southeast section of Los Angeles (Huntington Park) where he lived until he departed for college at the University of California, Santa Barbara. After securing his BA in sociology, Joe went to work for Boeing at Vandenberg AFB in what was then called Industrial Relations (now Human Resources). He returned to UCSB to secure an MA and then moved on to obtain a PhD at the University of Oregon. Subsequently, he taught at the University of New Mexico for four years where he held a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology and the College of Education. In 1973 Joe came to New York for what he thought would be a brief sojourn at SUNY Purchase, and he’s been a New Yorker ever since.

While at Purchase, Joe organized the Faculty Union chapter and was its president for a number of years, served a term on the statewide union executive board, served a couple of terms as presiding officer of the college faculty, represented the college faculty on the statewide academic senate and was head of the Division of Social Science (Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology and Women’s Studies) for six years. Currently he is retired (Emeritus Professor of Sociology), a sometime lawyer (JD Pace University) and reading as much 19th and early 20th century literature as he can while otherwise enjoying life in the City.

William Baker, Secretary

Bill and his wife Marilyn joined the Society in 2009.  Before being elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015 he worked as a member of the Personnel and Building Committees and consulted with the Communications Committee.

Bill was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he and Marilyn met when they were both in their teens.  They moved to New York in 1970 and raised their two daughters here.

Bill holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a MS in Environmental Engineering (Air Pollution Control).  He was awarded a commission in the U.S. Public Health Service shortly after graduation and, despite his conviction never to work for the government once he fulfilled his service obligation, Bill spent the next 45 years as a civil servant.  Until his retirement in 2013 Bill held a variety of technical and managerial positions in the Environmental Protection Agency, where he was one of its founding members.

Bill does volunteer work helping elderly and/or disabled people manage their day-to-day financial affairs and tutors underprivileged students primarily in math and science.  He also pursues a lifelong interest in art and paints.

Trustees

Bob Berger

Bob and his wife Muriel have been members of the new York Society for Ethical Culture since 1995. They enjoy the community, the activities, and the varied opinions of all that are involved. Bob has served on the Board twice before and is honored to be serving again. He has served on numerous committees over the years and attended the Ethical Union’s Summer School.

Barbara Carlsen

Barbara became a member of the New York Society of Ethical Culture in 2003 when she moved into an apartment in Manhattan. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Barbara is a lifelong New Yorker with a passion for teaching and for the arts. Her career as a music teacher began in 1978 in East New York, Brooklyn, where she taught in her field of strings and orchestra. Various teaching jobs followed in Westchester County. At the present time, Barbara is teaching orchestra in a private school on the Upper West Side. She has been learning and playing violin and viola for her entire life, and continues to enjoy an active involvement with community orchestras and chamber music organizations.

Barbara also has a deep commitment to social justice and work that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. Her volunteer work has been most focused on children: as a mentor for the Mental Health Association of Westchester, she worked with children who needed support and care. Her one-to-one work at the Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry was another place where she devoted her time and skills with young people. Barbara also worked as a mentor and tutor to formerly-incarcerated young adults at the Fortune Society. She has a hope and vision for a world where all children are supported, cared for, and loved.

At NYSEC, Barbara is a member of the Sunday Programs committee and enjoys helping to bring meaningful and interesting programs to the Society. As chair of the Youth and Family Committee, she hopes to bring families and members together to create a strong and healthy bond, in an atmosphere where we all learn from each other. As chair of the Music sub-committee, Barbara hopes to help infuse exciting, vibrant, and relevant music into the Sunday platforms. As trustee, she hopes to help the Society grow, flourish, and continue to do the work of making the world a better place.

Scotty Embree

Bio coming soon!

Elinore Kaplan

Elinore joined Ethical in 2011, and the Membership Committee the following summer, Co-chairing, then Chairing that committee through to 2015, when she joined and then became Chair (now Co-chair) of the Communications Committee (CC). She has been editor of our newsletter, Ethical Outlook, since 2013. Elinore was elected to the Board and has served since 2014. She Co-chaired the ad hoc Leader Search Committee until it accomplished its mission in 2021.

Elinore has always been a New Yorker — born and bred in Brooklyn, raising a family on Long Island, and happily retired to Manhattan since 2010. Over the years she’s had diverse professional experience — briefly as an elementary school teacher; then writer, reporter and editor on community newspapers and trade publications; free-lance copywriter; advertising director at Esselte Pendaflex, c.e.o. of Adfinity Advertising; adult programs director at the Bryant Library,; and finally as a high school English and journalism teacher.

She has served on various organization boards (L.I. Museum Association, L. I. Advertising Association, and School-Business Partnerships of L.I.). Her last volunteer stint on the Island was as founder of a chapter of MoveOn.org. She would like to continue to draw on her experience and abilities to help Ethical Culture continue to flourish as it so richly deserves.

Howard Rose

Howard and his wife Janet joined the Ethical Society in the fall of 2017, enticed by the programming and underlying mission of Deed Before Creed.

Howard holds AAS and BS degrees in photography and a Master’s Degree in Graphic Arts Education from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He taught high school level vocational graphic arts and computer graphics in New Jersey for 27 years. While teaching, for 6 years, Howard and Janet were professional potters selling their work for six years, mainly at fine craft shows throughout the northeast. They then began Rose Squared Productions, Inc and have been promoting fine art and fine craft shows for the past 38 years in New Jersey, retiring from that as of 2022.

Howard was on the Board at his temple for over 20 years, president of their Brotherhood, and on the temple’s Executive Board for six years. He was also involved with Homesharing, a charity that pairs women and children needing housing with (usually) older women who need someone to stay with them at reduced rent in exchange for some sort of work/housecleaning/shopping arrangement.

At Ethical, Howard has been active on the Branding Taskforce, Leader Search Committee, assisting with Ethical Enrichment programs (Janet is the Chair of Ethical Enrichment), and the Ethics in the Theater Committee.

His recent hobbies include cooking and learning to play the ukulele.

Honorary Trustees

Charles H. Debrovner, MD

Known as “Chuck” when he’s wearing his Ethical Culture hat, Dr. Debrovner has been a member of our society for almost 25 years. He served as President from 1988 to 1994, and has been an active Honorary Trustee since that time. He has represented the Society on the Board of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School since 1988, and this year became an Honorary Trustee. He is on the Board of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which was founded by the New York Society. He completed fourteen years as President of the Humanist Institute in 2006, and is now on its executive committee. He, also serves as its representative to the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He recently completed a term on the Board of the American Humanist Association and is now Associate Director of its Appignani Bioethics Center and represents the AHA at the United Nations.

Chuck graduated from Yale University and received his M.D. degree at New York University School of Medicine. He has also served as President of their Alumni Association. He trained in obstetrics and gynecology at the NYU-Bellevue Medical Center, and recently retired from clinical practice after a 43-year career devoted primarily to gynecology and infertility.

One of Chuck’s hobbies is photography, and he videos many of the Society events for our website and our archives. His wife, Pat, also a member for 25 years, is an Ethical Culture Officiant and a Humanist Celebrant, performing many wedding ceremonies. Chuck assists her as “prop man and sound engineer,” and also records the ceremonies on video, which he sometimes presents as a gift to the couple.

Meg Chapman

Meg joined Ethical Culture in 2000. She was elected to the board in 2007. Meg was elected as Board President in June 2014. Her interests in the society lie in promoting activism through educational programs and the engagement of families and children with ethics.   She is chair of the Youth and Families and Sunday Charities subcommittees and has served as co-chair of the Sunday Programs Committee.  She has also participated in the Ethical Action Committee and the Advocacy Forum, and presently serves on the Social Service Board (SSB).

Meg was born in New York City, was raised in Massachusetts and returned to New York after seven years in New Haven with a BA and Master of Architecture from Yale University.  She lives in New York with her husband Mo Malekshahi and daughter Clara.

Andra Miller

Andra was elected president of the New York Society for Ethical Culture at the Board meeting of June 11, 2007 and served until June 2014.

After joining NYSEC in April 2003, she volunteered to present a short piece on spirituality for a panel program the last Sunday of that year. Trained for society volunteer work at the Lay Leadership Summer School of 2004, she has since presented an address on Felix Adler’s “Supreme Moral Rule” both at this Society and the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County; an end-of-the-year talk, “Goodbye 2006,” on the activist legacy of the New York Society for Ethical Culture; and a talk in March, 2008, on “Unity and Diversity,” concepts Dr. Adler espoused that bear periodic revisiting. Her most recent address was “Your Brain, Your Mind and Who You Are.”

Andra is now Co-Chair of the Ethical Action Committee, and is a member of the Membership Development Committee. In the past, she served as director of Sunday afternoon programs; and was a member of the Adult Education and the Ethics and the Theater Committees. She is a certified Ethical Culture Officiant.

Andra has read books onto tape at JBI, interviewed political candidates for Citizens Union and served on its program committee, and served on the watershed protection committee of the New York State Sierra Club. She has been active for many years in community theater (acting, singing, dancing, choreographing and directing). Her professional background is in business writing, business administration, magazine editing and public relations.

Judith D. Wallach

Judith is an honorary trustee of the Society, having served as the first woman president for seven years, from 1994 to 2001. Prior to that, she was chair of the Social Service Board, of which she was a founder of the Shelter for the Homeless and the Supervised Visitation Project. She has also served on the board of the American Ethical Union and chaired its Fund Development Committee. During her 26 years of membership in the Society, Judy has served as chair and member of numerous committees, been a Sunday speaker and served as a wedding and memorial officiant. She has also served on the Ethical Culture Fieldston School’s Board of Trustees and its Executive Committee. A graduate of the Humanist Institute and, for 12 years, on its Board of Governors, she chairs the Institute’s Education Committee.

Her passion for the past six years has been the effort, with a group of educators and others, to start public charter schools based on the educational philosophy of Felix Adler and incorporating the essential elements of an Ethical Culture Fieldston education. Making a free, public education with ethics as its base and using a child-centered approach and a thematically integrated curriculum has been, and continues to be, her dominating interest. Judy has also been a board member and secretary of the Partnership for the Homeless, and a member of Citizens Committee for Children of New York. For the past 10 years she has chaired Palladia, Inc., a multi-site human services agency that provides residential and outpatient treatment for substance abusers, many of whom have serious mental and physical illness. She’s been on its board since 1991.

In her otherwise unoccupied time, she pursues her private practice in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Judy is a psychology affiliate of Lenox Hill Hospital and supervises doctoral candidates in their group work. She and her husband, Sylvan Wallach, have a large, blended family spread across the U.S. and in Australia.

Society Staff

Robert Liebeskind, Executive Director
rliebeskind@nysec.org
(212) 874-5210 x1116

Bob is Executive Director of the Society, responsible for budget development and fiscal management, overseeing the room rental program and management of the building, and working with the board and committees in long-range planning and developing programs for membership and the public. Bob has been with the society since July of 2004.

Prior to joining the Society staff, Bob was Director of Administration for the Department of Psychiatry at North General Hospital. There, he oversaw the day-to-day operations, provided short-and long-term strategic planning and worked closely with the medical staff. He has also served as the Associate Executive Director for the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood, providing budget development and fiscal management, long range planning, and the supervision of staff members who ran the agencys myriad programs.

Bob holds a Masters degree in Social Work Administration from Hunter College. Bob and his wife Jean live in New York City and have two grown children, one presently living in San Francisco, the other here in New York.

Ed Beck, Communications Manager
ebeck@nysec.org
(212) 874-5210 x1144

Margaret Determann, Membership Coordinator
mdetermann@nysec.org
(212) 874-5210 x1113

Yalitza Garcia-Krawczyk, Office Manager
ygarcia@nysec.org
(212) 874-5210 x1117

Leonardo Gibson, Facilities Manager
lgibson@nysec.org
(212) 874-5210 x1107

David Gracia, Music Director
(212) 874-5210 x1117

Audrey Kindred, Children and Youth Program Coordinator
youngethicalexplorers@gmail.com
(212) 874-5210 x1103

Yolanta Kosmaczewska, Bookkeeper
ykosma@nysec.org
(212) 874-5210 x1104