Skip to main content

21st Annual Symposium | Biographies | September 10

Michael Barasch
Partner, Barasch, McGarry, Salzman & Penson
Michael Barasch was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1981 and has worked exclusively for law firms representing seriously injured victims of accidents and medical malpractice. After over a decade of trying major personal injury cases, Mr. Barasch joined forces with Jim McGarry.
They have won hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of thousands of accident victims, many of them catastrophically injured. They have been lead counsel in several multi-plaintiff litigations. Mr. Barasch and his colleagues take special pride in the work they have done on behalf of injured New York City firefighters, winning landmark decisions that have shaped the law on their behalf. After helping scores of firefighters receive awards in their individual cases, the firm was thrust into the legal problems of those killed and injured in the World Trade Center attacks, representing the families of dozens of firefighters killed, as well as over 1,000 first responders who sustained permanent respiratory illnesses from the toxic dust at the WTC site.
Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein appointed Mr. Barasch as liaison counsel on behalf of all rescue workers injured or killed, and he worked closely with Kenneth Feinberg, the Special Master of the Victim Compensation Fund, to expand the rules of the Air Transportation Safety and Systems Stabilization Act. When the VCF closed in 2004, the firm fought to reopen it because many clients continued to be diagnosed with new illnesses caused by the toxic dust, and/or they were found disabled after they had received an award for a non-disabling injury.
In January 2011 President Obama signed the Zadroga Act into law, named in honor of the firm's client, NYPD Detective Jimmy Zadroga, who died of pulmonary disease in 2006 caused by WTC toxins. As a result, $2.4 billion has been made available for medical care and $2.7 billion has been set aside for compensation to those whose health has gotten worse since 2003. Mr. Barasch and his colleagues currently represent more than 5,000 sick first responders and residents."
Richard Beck
President, International Association for Group Psychotherapy & Group Processes
Richard Beck is a New York City based psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of psychological trauma. Richard has conducted over 1500 hours of trauma related groups post 9/11.
He is the President of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes; a Senior Lecturer at Columbia University and on the Voluntary Faculty of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College. Richard lectures and writes about trauma and self-care locally, nationally and internationally.
Joseph Cavalcante
NYS Workers’ Compensation Board
Joe helps workers access their benefits on the most complex workers’ compensation and Paid Family Leave claims and also handles all fatality claims. Prior to this position, he was an agency spokesperson for more than 10 years, representing the Board publicly and writing many of our publications. He’s also been the Board’s point person on World Trade Center issues.
Before joining the Board, Joe’s broad work experience includes teaching as a college instructor, writing as a freelancer, and positions in health insurance, the software industry and at FEMA. He has written for dozens of publications as well. Joe holds an MA from SUNY at Albany.
Mark Desire
Assistant Director with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner
Mark Desire is an Assistant Director with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. He works in the Department of Forensic Biology, New York City’s DNA crime lab and the largest of its kind in North America. During his 24 years of employment, he has investigated thousands of criminal and missing persons cases.
He is the manager of the World Trade Center DNA Identification Team, a unit dedicated to advancing the science and helping return loved ones to their families. Mark has been recruited by the United Nations, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and several foreign countries to assist in locating the missing and design protocol to further this ability.
John M. Eubanks
Member Attorney, Motley Rice LLC
With extensive experience investigating terrorist organizations and terrorist financing in the Middle East, John Eubanks represents victims, survivors and their families in litigation designed to bankrupt the financiers of terror.
A former private counterterrorism investigator, John litigates for foreign terror victims and victims of international human rights abuses in areas including Iraq, Libya, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates. He was a key member of the team that prosecuted Linde et al. v. Arab Bank Plc, the first litigation against a financial institution brought to trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act. He is also a member of the team litigating against al Qaeda's alleged financiers and supporters arising out of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. John oversees Motley Rice’s litigation against Iran for its role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in addition to claims filed with the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund arising out of judgments entered against Iran for the firm’s 9/11 clients.
John Feal
Founder, The FealGood Foundation
On September, 12, 2001, John Feal and his team of Construction Demolition experts were called to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan to aid in the cleanup and recovery mission. While supervising his team roughly 8,000 pounds of steel came loose, crushing his left foot. After 11 weeks in the hospital, doctors amputated half of his foot.
John went through years of surgeries and innumerable hours of therapy; as well as extensive hospital stays and mounting medical expenses. Once out of the hospital, John made it his mission to alleviate the Heroes of 9/11 from the burdens he experienced and created the FealGood Foundation. The foundation assists First Responders and others who have been physically or mentally injured as a result of their rescue, recovery and clean up efforts at the WTC site.
August Flentje
Special Master, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
On April 19, 2022, the Attorney General appointed August (Auggie) Flentje to serve as Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) on an interim basis while the search for a permanent Special Master is underway.
Auggie has served as an attorney with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Division since 1998, first as a Trial Attorney in the Appellate Staff, and most recently as Special Counsel in the Civil Division front office. During his time with the Appellate Staff, he litigated numerous cases in the courts of appeals. He has served as a close adviser to numerous Assistant Attorney Generals and has served as Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General or temporary head for every litigating branch of the Civil Division. In 2018, Auggie was awarded the Attorney Generals’ David Margolis Award for Exceptional Service, the Department’s highest award for employee performance.
Auggie has managed the Torts Branch, under which the VCF operates, several times. In that capacity, he has worked with the Special Master to help address issues that arise in the management of VCF, and is familiar with its functions and operation. Auggie has stated that his goal as Special Master for an interim period is to provide stable management during the hiring process for a permanent Special Master, and to ensure there is no slowdown in the important work of the VCF in resolving claims.
Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Flentje served as a law clerk to Judge Frank J. Magill of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Mr. Flentje earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center. He was raised in Wichita, Kansas.
Anthony Gardner
Public Affairs Specialist, WTC Health Program
Anthony Gardner joined the WTC Health Program as a Public Affairs Specialist in April 2022. He has proudly worked on 9/11 related issues over the last two decades in honor of his brother Harvey who was killed in the terrorist attacks.
Recently, he served as the Director of External Affairs at the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) where we expanded outreach activities to build awareness and engage the 9/11 community. Before joining the VCF, Anthony was a Senior Vice President of Government & Community Affairs at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. He was a vocal advocate for the preservation of the Twin Tower footprints, which now serve as the setting for the 9/11 Museum's primary exhibitions.
Dr. Jason Graham, MD
Chief Medical Examiner of New York City
Jason Graham, MD was appointed Chief Medical Examiner of New York City by Mayor Eric Adams in April 2022. In this role, he oversees investigations into deaths in New York City, and the operation of the largest public DNA laboratory in the nation.
He previously served as Acting Chief Medical Examiner since December 2021 and as First Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, the second highest leadership position within OCME, since 2013.
Dr. Graham joined the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in 2006, and later served as Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the borough of Manhattan. With a particular focus most recently on the investigation of overdose fatalities, he leads OCME's response to the opioid epidemic in coordination with local, state and federal partners. Dr. Graham established the OCME Drug Intelligence and Intervention Group in 2016 and currently serves as Chair of the city's RxStat Overdose Fatality Review Committee led by the OCME since summer 2021.
A native of Tennessee, Dr. Graham graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He then completed general surgery internship and anatomic pathology residency at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta prior to subspecialty fellowship training in forensic pathology at the Emory/Fulton County Medical Examiner program. Dr. Graham is board certified by the American Board of Pathology in both anatomic and forensic pathology. He holds faculty appointment currently as Chair for the Department of Forensic Medicine at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Dr. Graham has published in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals in the areas of forensic science, medicine, and pathology, and he is a member of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the National Association of Medical Examiners.
Robert Haefele
Senior Counsel, Motley Rice LLC
Robert Haefele has spent 30 years practicing complex civil litigation, including asbestos, tobacco, mesh, and other mass torts. His area of primary emphasis involves anti-terrorism and human rights, analyzing and litigating complex, domestic, and international matters to meet clients’ goals of justice and accountability while simultaneously achieving positive social change.
Robert represents more than 6,600 family members and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He is co-liaison counsel and an active member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for Personal Injury and Death Claims in In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, seeking to expose and bankrupt the alleged financiers and supporters of al Qaeda. Robert also played a central role in In re September 11th Litigation, involving more than 50 personal injury and wrongful death clients against the aviation and aviation security industries for their alleged failure to detect and prevent the 9/11 attacks.
Robert has also represented terrorism victims in litigation against Arab Bank for allegedly supporting Hamas.
Jim Kreindler
Partner, Kreindler & Kreindler
James P. Kreindler joined Kreindler & Kreindler LLP in 1983and became a partner in 1987. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College, 1977. He received his J.D. degree from Columbia University in 1980, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar. He began his career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Kings County (Brooklyn) District Attorneys' Office.
Currently, Mr. Kreindler is the co-chair of the Plaintiffs' Committee in the 9/11 Litigation on behalf of the 9/11families to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its role in the9/11 attacks. The lawsuit alleges that members of the government of Saudi Arabia provided critical financial and logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers prior to September11 , 2001.
This case is the first case to proceed under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act , also known as JASTA, passed by Congress in 2016.A longtime specialist in aviation accident and terrorist litigation, Mr. Kreindler previously took the lead role as a member of the Plaintiffs' Committee in the Pan Am 103families' lawsuit against Pan Am and Libya. That litigation resulted in the largest financial recovery for a single disaster in the history of aviation-nearly $3 billion.
Noah Kushlefsky
Managing Partner, Kreindler & Kreindler LLP
Noah Kushlefsky is the Managing Partner of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, a law firm that is dedicated to advocating for the victims of the September 11th terror attacks and their families. He and his firm took a lead role in the original WTC litigation on behalf of people killed on the day of the attack, and were leaders representing claimants in the original Victim Compensation Fund.
Since the VCF reopened in 2010, Noah and his firm have been representing thousands of claimant injured in the aftermath of the attacks and have worked tirelessly to assure that the VCF and World Trade Center Health Program provide health care and reasonable compensation for its clients and for all victims for their lifetimes. Kreindler & Kreindler is also one of the law firms heading current litigation against the sponsors of the terror attacks, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In addition to his extensive work on behalf of the 9/11 community, in his career Noah has litigated wide variety of complex cases in courtrooms across the country, involving commercial and general aviation accidents, complex general tort litigation, environmental torts and mass torts.
Stefanie Langsam
VCF Deputy Special Master
Stefanie Langsam has over 25 years of broad-based management and leadership experience. She worked on the original VCF from January 2002 until it closed in 2004, and was quick to return to the DOJ as a consultant in 2011 when the opportunity arose to support the reopened VCF.
Stefanie held key positions on the leadership team, and had a lead role in the implementation of the changes required by the December 2015 reauthorization. In June of 2016, Stefanie became a VCF Deputy Special Master, directly in charge of all VCF day-to-day operations, including the claims management system, internal and external communications, Helpline, data and reporting, payment processing, document management, claim review support activities, and contract management.
In 2020, Stefanie received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. She was also selected by Federal Computer Week as a 2020 Federal 100 winner, which recognizes leaders from throughout the Federal IT community who had the greatest impact in 2019.
Dr. Leo Leiderman
Seasoned Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Leo Leiderman is a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology and Group Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology; Fellow, American Academy of Clinical Psychology; Fellow and Certified Group Psychotherapist of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA); and director of Neurofeedback & Psychological Services, Purchase, NY.
He is the AGPA Treasurer and member of the organization’s Executive Committee; and the Editor of The Group Circle- newsletter of the American Group Psychotherapy Association. He has presented and authored extensively on the topics of mass trauma, group psychotherapy, dissociation, and complex trauma.
Matt McCauley
Partner, Turken, Heath & McCauley
Matt was a 9/11 First Responder himself and has been dedicated to representing both the 9/11 First Responders and civilian survivors that were either injured or developed illnesses after the attack.
As a former NYPD Police Officer and a Paramedic, he and others advocated for the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 and its extension to aid both first responders and civilian survivors. Named Advocate of the Year by John Feal from the FealGood Foundation, he has been recognized numerous times for his commitment to the 9/11 community. He continues assist the FealGood Foundation, 9/11 Health Watch, and other groups with developing legislation supportive of the 9/11 Community.
Jennifer Odien
Lead WTC Anthropologist
Dr. Jennifer Odien joined the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner in July of 2015. She is the lead WTC Anthropologist for the NYC OCME and as the WTC anthropologist, she assists with the ongoing identification efforts and communicates directly with family member of victims.
Terry Strada
National Chair, 9/11 Families United
Terry Strada is a mother, 9/11 Widow and Special Interest Advocate. She serves as liaison between victim’s family members and survivors of the September 11 terrorist attack against the United States and the U.S. Congress and media.
Her pursuit for justice, accountability and the truth have led to successes in declassification of the “28 pages”, enactment of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act - ‘JASTA” and the introduction of the bipartisan, bicameral September 11 Transparency Act which later became the basis for President Biden’s Executive Order on September 3, 2021, directing a Declassification Review of key 9/11 related documents, resulting in troves of newly declassified documents never seen before.
Dr. Jane Webber
Doctoral Program Committee Chair, Counselor Education Department, Kean University
Dr. Jane Webber is a national leader in disaster and trauma. She is a Lecturer and Doctoral Program Committee Chair in the Counselor Education Department at Kean University and a NJ Licensed Professional Counselor and NJ Disaster Response Crisis Counselor serving on New Jersey’s disaster mental health response team.
Dr. Webber is also co-editor of Disaster Mental Health Counseling: A Guide to Preparing and Responding in its fourth edition. Dr. Webber was Guest Editor of the Traumatology Special Section of the Journal of Counseling and Development in 2017. She was a member of the ACA Task Force for Crisis Response Planning and served on the CACREP Advisory Committee for Emergency preparedness that developed the 2009 CACREP Standards in disaster, trauma, and crisis.