Leadership

Caroline Gates Anderson, Founder

AJ Jonakait, Program Manager​​​

Elaine Diaz, Community Workshops Manager

Lesley Chan and Elsa Chen, NEW YORK CARES Team Leaders

Board of Directors

Caroline Gates Anderson

Caroline founded BloomAgainBklyn in 2014. She spent over 20 years in children’s book publishing as the director of photo research for Grolier/Hachette and SLP/Scholastic. Previously, she founded Gates & Tripp, one of first vintage photography galleries in the country, located in Boston and Newport, RI. Caroline has served on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society and was the executive director of the Cambridge Art Association.

 

Donna Whiteford

Donna spent her professional career as a global marketing executive in the pharmaceutical industry at Merck, Inc., Elan Biopharmaceutical Company and in the pharmacy benefits management industry with Medco. Currently she serves as Chair of the board of directors for Mercy Home for Children, is a volunteer at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, volunteers in the NYC public school system at Brooklyn Leaders, and she serves as secretary/treasurer for the coop in which she lives. Donna is also Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council at St Charles Borromeo Church. Donna was formerly a board member of the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Red Cross in NYC. Donna is a co-founding principal of BloomAgain and has been on the board since its inception.

 

Richard L. Anderson

Rick Anderson is a marketing communications and public relations professional and currently heads R.L. Anderson & Associates, a public relations consultancy. Formerly, he was the co-director of the financial services practice at Fleishman-Hillard and co-founder of the Global Consulting Group, now a part of Thomson Reuters. Rick began his career with Textron and later served as Ombudsman and Assistant Secretary of Economic Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Rick serves on the Board of Directors of Heights and Hills and was chairman of the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy at its inception for five years, helping launch this award-winning youth chorus. Rick has been a BloomAgain board member since inception and serves as chief marketing officer.

 

Judith Keefer

Judy Keefer has spent the greater part of her career in the NGO sector where she was the former chief operating officer and chief financial officer the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for more than 24 years. Judy had served in the finance office of the NYC government in the financial area for over 10 years as a Deputy Commissioner and in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. Judy has been on the board of directors of the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society for 10 years serving as chairperson for four years until 2016. She is on the board of directors of the Friends of Clermont and serves as treasurer. Judy is a core volunteer with BloomAgain and has been on the board since 2016.

 

Erica Schlaug

Erica has had a career in financial services and accounting sectors for over 20 years most recently as a vice president with Goldman Sachs in global finance, a position she held for 16 years. Previously she was a senior associate with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the investment management area. She has been a member of the BloomAgain board since 2016 and coordinates the organization’s weekly volunteer program.

Elaine Sloan

Elaine served as Vice President and University Librarian of Columbia University. Prior to moving to New York, she worked in the Libraries of Indiana University, University of California at Berkeley and the Smithsonian Institution. After retiring from Columbia University, Elaine spent several years at the Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library. Elaine has served on various university and professional boards including the Executive Service Corp and UpStage Lung Cancer. Elaine has been a board member of BloomAgain since 2016.

 

Lisa Oberholzer-Gee
A California native, Lisa has literally planted new roots on the East Coast. She moved from Switzerland, where her passion for flower design began, back to the US to found KoolBloom, a floral design studio in Cambridge, MA. When she re-located to New York City, she worked as a floral designer at L’Olivier Floral Atelier, a company that helped bring European floral design to the United States.


Lisa taught at the New York Botanical Garden where she introduced a course on European-style floral techniques. She is on the roster of lecturers for the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts and travels to other states to teach floral design. A graduate of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, Lisa is a valuable BloomAgain volunteer and floral designer, and has become a regular presenter on the BloomAgain ZoomConnect network.

Kumudha Ramanathan

Kumudha has had a career in the medical field as a radiologist and as the head of a freestanding, imaging center in Brooklyn Heights which she oversaw for 25 years. She grew up in Madras, India, and came to the U.S. in 1977 where she obtained her medical degree in radiology from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 1982. Kumudha has been a dedicated and energetic, core volunteer for BloomAgain, and serves on the Advisory Board Member of Heart and Hand for the Handicap (HHH), a non-profit organization that aids disabled children in India.

Alexandra McGinley

Alex has had a career in law and legal reporting. She served as a legal reporter for Bloomberg after spending several years with Credit Suisse Securities as vice president and counsel. Previously she had been an associate with Sidley Austin Brown and Wood. Alex joined the BloomAgain board in 2017.

 

Samantha Dodds

Samantha has been the Director of Corporate Relations at Brooklyn Public Library since 2014 where she oversees corporate partnerships, grants and sponsorship for the library's 59 branches. Previously, Samantha served as the Director of Corporate and Individual Giving at Transportation Alternatives (T.A.), an advocacy organization whose mission is to promote bicycling, walking and public transit in New York City. Samantha got her start in fundraising at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, where she held positions in development, events and communications. Samantha joined the BloomAgain board in 2018.

Caroline Koster

Caroline is a senior legal counsel and Corporate Secretary of two Nasdaq-traded public companies, BGC Partners, Inc. (financial services) and Newmark Group, Inc. (real estate services), affiliates of Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. Ms. Koster joined Cantor in 2002 and also serves as its Managing Director & Associate General Counsel. Ms. Koster also serves as Counsel and Secretary for the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, a non-profit founded to support victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. She is a former council member and President of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights and one of the founders of the Underground Thrift Store, which sells gently used items to benefit anti-human trafficking organizations. Caroline joined the BloomAgain board in 2019.

Mary Ellen Ross

Mary Ellen began her career as a city planner; transitioned to become an owner of a children’s clothing company; and then for the last few decades served as senior executive with one of New York City‘s largest, private social services provider and housing developer—CAMBA. MaryEllen recently retired from CAMBA where she served as staff supervisor for the Refugee Services and Workforce Development Department and Program Director for recruitment and hiring for their Human Resources Department. Her past board experience includes serving as a member of the Board, Secretary and Vice President of Friends of Clermont; member of the Board of the T. Schreiber Studio, a not-for-profit acting studio in Manhattan. She had also been president of the Friends of the Brooklyn Heights Branch Library. Currently she serves on the Board of the Hudson Opera House, aka Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York, which is a community arts center and theatre.

Rachel Jones Bellas

Rachel Jones Bellas has costumed film, theater, and dance in New York City since 2007. Film credits include Reed Morano’s I Think We’re Alone Now, Puzzle, and The Glass Castle. Theater and dance credits include productions with Bluemouth Inc., Colleen Thomas Dance, and Bill Young. She has worked as a tailor and re-purposer of vintage garments.  She holds a BFA in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and studied theater at Atlantic Acting School. Rachel is a member of USA 829. A resident of Brooklyn Heights with her husband and two young children, she has been a BloomAgain board member since the Spring of 2020. 

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