Meet Our Board Members

Our Founder in 1965 on The Esplanade.

Our Founder in 1965 on The Esplanade.

Jennifer Ratner, M.D.

Jennifer Ratner, M.D. is a pediatrician practicing part-time in Manhattan. She also is an avid art-lover and gives art tours throughout Manhattan. For the past few years, she has spent much of her time as a community advocate, giving voice to the needs of the East River’s forgotten, but beautiful Esplanade.  Jennifer has lived near, jogged through, biked down, and relaxed on the Esplanade for the past 40 years. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.


Leslie Wagner

Leslie Wagner is a criminal defense and immigration attorney, a life and executive coach, and  a book reviewer for the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee.  She is a long-time runner, cyclist, sailor and outdoor enthusiast. Running and biking along the East River Esplanade have made her keenly aware of the need to preserve and enhance our beautiful waterside and its environment.  She is a graduate of UCLA and the University of San Diego School of Law.


Timothy O'Connor, Ph.D.

Timothy O’Connor, Ph.D.,  was appointed executive vice president of The Rockefeller University in February 2016. In this role, he oversees most university operations, including research support, technology transfer, facilities, and information technology, as well as finance, investments, human resources, and legal affairs. Working in partnership with the other executive officers, he provides administrative leadership to the university and represents the president both internally and externally. He originally joined the university in 2013 as chief of staff and vice president.

Dr. O’Connor’s career has focused on both biomedical research and academic administration. Most recently, he served as associate provost for science and technology at Yale University; prior to that, he was associate research professor and vice chair in the Department of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He currently serves on the boards of the New York Structural Biology Center, the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, New York BIO and Accelerator Corporation, a biotechnology investment and management company.

Conrad Axelrod

Conrad Axelrod is an attorney at Schulte Roth & Zabel, a multidisciplinary law firm with a long history as a leader in pro bono. He is a strong supporter of The Rockefeller University community and a Business Council member of the American Australian Association. The East River Esplanade has been a focal point for Conrad’s outdoor and cultural pursuits since moving to New York City in 2013. His work with Friends of the East River Esplanade provides an opportunity to enhance local community values and promote civic engagement, with the goal of making the East River Esplanade a vibrant centerpiece of East Harlem and the Upper East Side.

Sarah Woodside Gallagher

Sarah Woodside Gallagher is a veteran of the entertainment industry having worked in commercials, documentaries, television series and feature films.  She was also the founder of the research firm Sherlock (sold to FindSVP) and crafts-oriented Deep River (sold to the Horchow Collection and co-founded Upper Green Side, the environmental non-profit organization active on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  Nominated for several awards for her work in television, she attended the Fox Lane School and Smith College.

Tori Gilbert

Tori Gilbert has been teaching Science and Foreign Languages for over 26 years, most of those at Saint David’s School. She founded East River CREW in 1999 with a small group of concerned citizens so that everyone could enjoy access onto the water at E. 96th street, healthy rowing and learning about the estuary in our backyard with the snappy traditional 25 foot Whitehall Gig her students built in 1997. Since then, she has become more involved in East River esplanade concerns and joined the board of the Friends of the East River Esplanade to continue her mission to connect the public to its role in preserving the health of its environment.

Reesa Kaufman

Senior Director, Foundation and Government Relations at Hospital for Special Surgery

Jayne Binzer bio picture (002).jpeg

Jayne Binzer-Jacowitz

Jayne is a Senior Operating Executive specializing in M & A with a Human Resources focus at Cerberus Operations & Advisory Company, LLC, an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, LP. She and her husband have lived within a block of the Esplanade for over 35 years and been involved in both their building and block associations.  As an avid runner and sailor, she is passionate about the revitalization and reinvention of the East Side waterfront.   

She was previously a Vice President of Human Resources at Bloomingdale’s and a Principal in a small consulting firm, East End Consulting Partners. She holds a degree in Journalism and Economics from Hofstra University

Frank (Turtle) Raffaele 

Founder of COFFEED

Sari Chang

Sari Chang is a Registered Architect and a Principal at JACOBSCHANG Architecture in New York City, a firm whose work ranges in scale and scope from large urban park strategies to single family homes, with a focus on sustainable design. Previously she worked at Rogers Marvel Architects and at Pei Cobb Freed and Partners as a designer on a number of campus projects, including Stanford and Princeton Universities. She is a graduate of Princeton University, Yale School of Architecture, and is a longstanding member of the Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Professional Ski Instructors of America. Sari also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York. She enjoys biking on the East River Esplanade and in Central Park with her husband and three children.