May 29, 2017


Barbara Sander, BNC's outgoing national president, and Zelda Freedman


Barbara Sander, BNC’s outgoing national president, and Zelda Freedman

Sander’s Art of Motivation

Barbara Sander looks forward rather than back, focuses on the positive, eschews the negative and concerns herself not at all with issues beyond her control.

As the national president of the Brandeis National Committee nears the end of her three-year term on July 1, her characteristic optimism and energy continue to both inspire the organization and steel her in her fight against a mysterious cancer.

Sander has worked tirelessly to bring the 25,000 BNC members around the country closer to the university, establish a vibrant leadership-development program, and connect more than 40 chapters to the national board. Thanks to her efforts, BNC membership is growing, and philanthropic support of the university is rising.

“I feel so good about where the BNC is right now,” Sander says. “Our members take tremendous pride in their affiliation with this great university, and they understand that their support of students and faculty is vital for Brandeis’ future. At the same time, Brandeis leaders recognize the important role the BNC plays in the life of the institution.”

Sander, who lives in Sarasota, Florida, has traveled the country to spread her hopeful message to BNC chapters from New York to California. She has visited 24 chapters over the past three years.

“Doing the work, being dedicated and finishing what you said you would are important, but the key to getting things done is relating to people in a positive way,” Sander says. “I really think you can motivate people with warmth.”

Sander has been a role model in both word and deed. She recently made a generous gift to the university in support of the BNC’s Scholarship Campaign. “I can’t very well ask people to make significant gifts if I don’t do it myself,” she explains.

Plunging into her work as BNC national president has been therapeutic for Sander as she battles a rare form of blood cancer for which there is no cure. She is following the protocol for treating multiple myeloma but has not regained feeling between her knees and toes. Her sickness and treatment have not interrupted her daily workout schedule of Zumba and aerobics.

“I’m just not the kind of person who stays in bed and whimpers,” says Sander, who will remain on the Brandeis Board of Trustees after her BNC term ends. “This cancer won’t kill me, so, as long as I have the energy, there’s absolutely no excuse for my not doing my best for the BNC.”

Friedberg with Lisa M. Lynch, former interim president of Brandeis, at the BNC Scholarship Luncheon

Friedberg with Lisa M. Lynch, former interim president of Brandeis, at the BNC Scholarship Luncheon

Friedberg Announced as BNC National President

Madalyn Friedberg, a longtime leader in the Central Westchester chapter, who has served as national vice president of fundraising for the past year, will become the Brandeis National Committee’s national president on July 1. She succeeds Barbara Sander, who has served as national president since 2013.

Friedberg, who joined the BNC in 1973, will lead the organization and its 41 chapters around the country for the next three years. In her role, she will serve on the Brandeis Board of Trustees.

Vice presidents for 2016-17 will be Lynne Groban (Washington, D.C.), fundraising; Alexis Magid, P’15 (Greater Boston), leadership development; Norma Feinsod (Wycliffe), regional presidents; Lydia Axelrod (Trails of Delray Beach), learning opportunities; and Judith Levine (Phoenix), membership.

Other new National Executive Committee members include Carol Abrams (Phoenix); Elaine Bloom (Trails of Delray Beach); Steven Hill (Gotham); Judith Kendall Levine (Gotham); Nancy Lightman (Greater Boston); Leslie Pearlstein, P’94 (Greater Boston); Carol Rabinovitz ’59, G’18 (Greater Boston); Lori Roth (Phoenix); and Carol Gliedman Weinberg (Gotham).

Elinor and Howard Bernstein

Elinor and Howard Bernstein

A Modern-Day Robin Hood

Lucky for the Brandeis National Committee, retired lawyer Howard Bernstein takes a very close look at his credit-card statements.

Two years ago, Bernstein won a $5 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit he initiated over a questionable $15 credit-card charge. Recently, he and his wife, Elinor, a leader in BNC’s Wellworth chapter, earmarked nearly $145,000 of the settlement’s proceeds for the Sustaining the Mind campaign.

“We thank the Bernsteins for their generosity in supporting Brandeis’ efforts to solve the riddle of neurodegenerative diseases,” says BNC executive director Beth Bernstein. “Howard’s fight to right a wrong is in keeping with Brandeis’ commitment to pursuing social justice in all its forms.”

The Bernsteins have been active with the BNC since they moved to Lake Worth, Florida, in 1999, when Howard retired from Dworken & Bernstein, the Cleveland law firm he founded in 1959. Elinor has served as the Wellworth chapter treasurer. Howard frequently gives talks to BNC members about the couple’s travels to such exotic locales as Iguazu Falls, in Argentina; Iceland; Alaska; and the Galápagos Islands.

“We enjoy the people, the study groups and the opportunities to hear from Brandeis professors,” Elinor says. “Since Brandeis is at the forward edge in the sciences, we thought it made sense to designate proceeds from the settlement to Sustaining the Mind.”

Howard’s quixotic quest against the financial institution (although the settlement details are public, the Bernsteins have agreed not to publicize the bank’s name) began 10 years ago, shortly after he signed up for a special promotion that offered a 2 percent loan for six months. He took out a $25,000 loan and deposited the proceeds into a bank account that paid a higher interest rate.

In a subsequent statement, Howard noticed the credit-card company had charged him $15 extra by applying his monthly payment to pay down the low-interest loan rather than his card balance, which had a higher rate. Although the bank had assured him the payment would be used to pay off the loan, the agreement’s fine print allowed it to designate the payment however it wanted.

Bernstein, realizing that thousands of unsuspecting consumers had likely been victimized by the bank’s scheme, reached out to a former law partner at Dworken & Bernstein, Patrick Perotti, to discuss the feasibility of filing a class-action lawsuit.

After a five-year court battle, in 2014 the bank agreed to a $5 million settlement, while denying any wrongdoing. Card holders who took out loans with the bank were entitled to $20 each. Funds that went unclaimed were distributed to charities. The Bernsteins chose the BNC as one of their charities, in addition to organizations in South Florida.

“The first time I appeared in court in this case, the judge referred to it as an ‘I got you’ case. That’s exactly what it was,” Howard says. “This type of behavior is not exclusive to this bank. Companies are thinking, ‘How do we make an extra buck from people who don’t look at their bills?’”

Bernstein brought his lawsuit to ensure that people were compensated and the bank’s behavior was punished. Dworken & Bernstein pioneered the “cy pres” concept by which unclaimed funds from class-action settlements are distributed to charities rather than defendants.

Now, thanks to Bernstein’s close examination of his bills, some settlement dollars are supporting Brandeis researchers as they take aim at neurodegenerative diseases.

Campus Summit

BNC chapter leaders
BNC chapter leaders from around the country visited Brandeis in May for their annual meetings. At the installation dinner, several leaders from New Jersey — Helen Ciangiulli, Judy Dorfman, Christine Retz, Marilyn Altman and Claire Heller — enjoyed the time together.

Madalyn Friedberg, from the Central Westchester chapter, who has served as national vice president of fundraising for the past year, succeeded Barbara Sander as the Brandeis National Committee’s national president on July 1. Madalyn joined the BNC in 1973, and will serve as a leader for the organization and its 41 chapters.

Friedberg joined the BNC at the urging of a friend. A mother of three young children, she was seeking a group of like-minded lifelong learners. She knew about Brandeis University because her father, David Felix, had been friendly with Lawrence Wien, the founder of Brandeis’ Wien International Scholarship Program.

“I liked the BNC women right away,” Friedberg says. “I remember the women didn’t ask what my husband did for a living or how many children I had. They cared about who I was.”

As treasurer of the Central Westchester chapter for many years, she knows the financial advantages of establishing a charitable gift annuity for those interested in supporting the university. In 2015, Friedberg and her husband, Stephen, established a generous charitable gift annuity, planning to create another one this year.

“The premise on which the university was founded is very important to us,” Madalyn says. “Brandeis opened a whole world to people who needed an education. We want to do what we can to support Brandeis.”



Including a bequest or charitable gift annuity in your estate plan is an easy and rewarding way to support Brandeis University and its students. You can receive guaranteed, fixed income payments for life. Rates are locked in at the time you donate. To learn more, please contact M’Lissa Brennan at 781-736-4178 or email at


Brandeis students like Sophia Glickman ’16 give us hope. A BNC Scholar from Valhalla, New York, Sophia is a double major in biology and environmental studies. She worked as an undergraduate researcher in K.C. Hayes’ laboratory, researching the effects of various diets on the development of diabetes in rats. She chose Brandeis because of its friendly atmosphere and the opportunities it offers students to find their own path. Read her thank you letter ( where she thanks BNC members, like YOU, for making her Brandeis experience possible. Thank you for supporting the BNC Scholarship Campaign. Read more stories like Sophia’s here.




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