Honorary Board Members
Elizabeth (Liz) Singer has been a member of the Society for three 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.
Law’nence Miller (“L”)
has been a member of the New York Society for Ethical Culture since 2007 and a Trustee since 2011. He has served on the Finance, Rental, Personnel, Archive, Advisory and Caring committees throughout the years. Currently L holds the position of Vice President.
L works for the American Ethical Union as Director of Administration, managing the national headquarters of the Ethical Culture movement; and he serves on five committees for AEU’s Board: Archives (chair), Assembly (co-chair), Board Development, Finance and Communications. He also is co-owner and President of Carson Robert Event Designs, an Events company under the direction of his designer husband Shaun.
His professional work experience has primarily been in operations and management for music, employment, entertainment law, and other businesses and industries. He obtained his BA and BS in Psychology and Theatre from SUNY Purchase and Regents College, and completed graduate work in Business/Accounting at NYU.
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.
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.
Bob brings a business background and cares deeply for what the Society stands for.
has been a member of the New York Society for Ethical Culture since 2010 and was elected to the board in 2012. His primary activities with the Society have included Co-Chairing the Environmental Stewardship Committee, Chairing the Rental Committee, and working in the Woman’s Shelter program.
He has lived all his life within 100 miles of New York after having been raised and educated in the city. He has been active in environmental issues for some time working with organizations such as the Food and Water Watch, United for Action, Sane Energy and Sierra Club, and has been involved with service clubs such as Rotary International and Lions International in various projects.
His career background has focused on the industrial sector with the majority of his time spent in the steel industry primarily in the stainless steel sector.
Phyllis Harrison-Ross, MD
a trustee of the Society since 2005, is Chair of the Social Service Board for United Social Services, Inc., a social action affiliate. She co-chairs the NYSEC Finance Committee, and serves on the Radio Committee, Endowment Committee, Awards Committee and is a Trustee and member of the Supporting Organization for the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
Phyllis practices child and adult psychiatry, is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Sciences at New York Medical College, Emeritus Attending Psychiatrist/Chief of Psychiatry at Metropolitan Hospital Center and Founder and Managing Partner of Black Psychiatrists of Greater New York. Currently,she serves fulltime as COMMISSIONER, NYS COMMISSION OF CORRECTION AND CHAIR OF THE COMMISSION'S MEDICAL REVIEW BOARD, which oversees the operation and management of local and state correctional facilities and secure residential treatment centers operated by the Office of Children and Family Services.
She has written numerous articles, books and book chapters on community and children’s mental health, prison health. Her interest in media extends from the NYSEC radio show on WBAI.FM, “Ethics on the Air” to championing the use of Telepsychiatry to reach underserved populations.
Phyllis is a past President of Black Psychiatrists of America and, in 2004, received the American Psychiatric Association’s Solomon Carter Fuller Award. The All Healers Mental Health Alliance, an organization that Phyllis, along with the NYSEC and the Social Service Board, was instrumental in forming, received an award for Public Health Leadership at the American Public Health Association meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2007, bestowed for AHMHA's work to bring hope and healing to survivors following the disaster of the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy and the devastation caused in the mid-south/Gulf Coast by the Katrina and Rita hurricanes, tornados and the BP oil spill.
back to top
Elinore Kaplan joined Ethical in 2011, and the Membership Development Committee (MDC) the following summer, co-chairing, then chairing that committee through to 2015. Still on the MDC, she is presently the co-chairperson of the Communications Committee (CC), and a trustee on our board of directors.
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.
Terry M. Perlin,
Ph.D. became a NYSEC member in July of 2009, and was elected to the board in May of 2011. He has presented a program on "How Doctors View Their Patients," a study series, "Evil: Ethical, Psychological and Social Issues," and several other programs. He also is on the Radio Committee and serves as co-host of the Society's monthly series, "Ethics on the Air," on WBAI-FM 99.5. Terry has been an actor/reader and discussion leader for Ethics in the Theater and regularly participates in Leader Anne Klaysen's luncheon discussion group.
A consultant in medical ethics, from 1975-2009 he served as Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Research Fellow, Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University (Ohio). He is the author of "Clinical Medical Ethics: Cases in Practice" and has directed the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He also has had visiting fellowships at University of Minnesota, University of California (Berkeley) and University of Virginia. Here in New York City Terry is Visiting Professor of Pediatrics at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and President of Compassion and Choices NY, an advocacy and service organization to aid those facing end-of-life choices. Terry currently serves as Secretary.
Richard Van Deusen
married the former Carol Nadell in the Auditorium in January 2007 and joined the Society in 2009. He was first elected to the board in 2012, serving two years as Treasurer and two as Vice President. He has chaired the Building Committee since 2012 and is an active member of Ethics and the Theatre and platform presider.
A native of New Jersey, he managed media production for the Prudential Insurance Company for 30 years. After accepting early retirement he formed a consulting practice specializing in business process improvement, which he ran for 15 years. Dick has now returned to his first career producing and directing play readings for the Society and other New York Theatre Companies.
Along the way he co-founded a professional association that grew to over 10,000 members worldwide. He served as Treasurer of two professional associations and Executive Director for another. In his community he was chairman of the Zoning Board and served two terms on the Township Committee, including two years as Mayor. He also was a Trustee of a regional symphony orchestra and is now a member of The Holland Society of New York.
Dick has a B.A. in Political Science from Dickinson College and an M.F.A. in Theatre Directing from Boston University. His son, Derek, lives in Cincinnati
has been a member of the society since 2000. Prior to moving to New York in 1999, Tom and his wife, Kathleen O'Connell, lived in the Kansas City area for 25 years, where they raised two children.
In the past, Tom has served as the society's Treasurer and as chair of the building committee. He currently serves on the endowment committee and as Treasurer.
Tom graduated from a two-room Catholic school in a small town in northeast Kansas, a Catholic high school in a somewhat bigger town nearby, and the University of Iowa. Professionally Tom's career began as a Peace Corp Volunteer in India. On his return he earned a masters degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas. He has since worked as a writer, editor, and manager – primarily on the topics of computers and personal finance – for large companies, small companies, and as an entrepreneur. He is currently a doctoral student in the health education program at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Honorary Board Members
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 Sunday School Committee, the Sunday Charities Committee and has served as co-chair of the Sunday Programs Committee. She has also participated in the Ethical Action Committee and the Advocacy Forum. She is a practicing architect and brings that experience to the Board.
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.
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.
Charles H. Debrovner, MD
(or “Chuck”, when he is wearing his Ethical Culture hat) 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.
Judith D. Wallach
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.