Steve Regenstreif, Chair
In 2013, Steve Regenstreif retired as director of the Retiree Department of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). AFSCME, the nation’s largest public employee union began organizing public sector retirees in 1980 and has had the distinction of being the fastest growing retiree organization in the labor movement. It is also the largest organization of public sector retirees in America. Since 1983, while Steve was director, the membership grew from 18,000 dues paying members to some 250,000 retirees in 250 state and local groups. During the last 15 years, the AFSCME Retirees added more than 10,000 new members each year.
Mr. Regenstreif began his career with AFSCME in 1973 and has held various positions including Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer William Lucy, Assistant Director of the AFSCME Organizing Department and an assistant to the late national President, Jerry Wurf. From 1978 to 1981, he worked in New York and played a leading role in the permanent affiliation of the 220,000 member Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) which brought the AFSCME membership to the one million mark. He was Director of the national Retiree Program from 1983 until his retirement. During his tenure as director, he served on the boards of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) and the Alliance For Retired Americans. He was also a delegate to the 1995, 2005, and 2015 White House Conferences on Aging, the 1998 White House Conference on Social Security and the 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings. In October 2017, he was re-elected to a third term as Chair of the National Democratic Seniors Coordinating Council. As a result of holding this position, he is a member of the Democratic National Committee.
Maria Cordone, Executive Vice-Chair
Maria Cordone is a 41-year member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW), an organization with over 300,000 retired members. Director of the Community Services/EAP/Retirees Department since 1997, she provided training and growth opportunities for active and retired members by recruiting, organizing and coordinating senior members in retiree chapters, and working with active members to initiate and implement programs for Employee Assistance and Community Services Representatives. She developed literature and materials for these departmental programs.
Ms. Cordone is currently the Executive Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee Senior Coordinating Council and is Co-Chair of the Democratic Seniors Network. She also serves on the boards of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation and the Fields of First Foundation, College Park Aviation. Ms. Cordone is active in the community, serving on the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Department Citizen Advisory Panel and serving on the Board of the Towers in Westchester Park. She is the President and CEO of Mustard Seed, Inc., a non-profit organization involved in community-based outreach programs.
Richard Fiesta, Vice-Chair
Richard Fiesta is the Executive Director at the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national grassroots advocacy organization with 4.4 million members nationwide that works to protect the health and economic security of retirees and older Americans. An expert in retirement security issues, including Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and health care, Mr. Fiesta is often called upon for views and analysis by national and regional media outlets including in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.
Mr. Fiesta has been the Executive Director of the Alliance since 2013, and first joined the Alliance as its Director of Government and Political Affairs in 2001. He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and serves on the national Board of Directors of the National Consumers League.
Earlier in his career, he worked in both the executive and legislative branches of government, serving at the Departments of Labor and Interior as well as the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. He was counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor Standards, legislative counsel to Senator Harris Wofford (D-PA), and communications director to Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). He also practiced law, specializing in labor and retirement issues. He received his bachelors, masters and law degrees from Georgetown University and pursued advanced study in American legal history at the University of Virginia.
Max Richtman, Vice-Chair
A former staff director of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and 16-year veteran of Capitol Hill, Max Richtman is executive vice president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the nation’s second-largest senior advocacy and education organization. Richtman, who joined the organization in 1989 as director of government relations, was named executive vice president in 1991. He also serves as director of the National Committee’s political action committee.
During his congressional career, Richtman directed a lengthy investigation of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s enforcement of age discrimination statutes and played key roles in reforms of the multi-billion-dollar federal and Indian oil and gas royalty collection system and Indian health care system.
Richtman began his career on Capitol Hill in 1975 as a staff assistant and counsel to the American Indian Policy Review Commission, chaired by Senator Jim Abourezk (D-SD). In 1977, Abourezk selected him as counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, which Abourezk chaired. In 1979, Richtman assumed the position of staff director of the committee under new chairman, Senator John Melcher (D-MT).
In 1987, Richtman was named staff director of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, a position he held until 1989, when he joined the National Committee.
Richtman was born in Munich, Germany, and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. He graduated cum laude from Harvard College in 1969 and received his law degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1973. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.
Judy Beard, Secretary
Judy Beard serves as the elected Director of the American Postal Workers Union Retirees Department, a position she has held since 2007. The department has over 40,000 members. Ms. Beard takes pride in providing her members with educational information regarding senior issues and keeping them informed on bills introduced into Congress that could impact their retirement. She also interacts with members of her union that are still working to ensure the transition from employment to retirement is smooth, stays abreast on the problems that workers face, and informs her retiree members of those problems that the APWU president has identified can be resolved by legislative action.
Prior to serving as National Retirees Director, she held a staff position as Executive Assistant to the National Secretary Treasurer of APWU for over twenty-five years and both her current and former position are based in Washington D.C. Prior to coming to Washington D.C., she held the position of Union Minorities & Women Leadership Program Specialist at the University of Michigan in the School of Industrial Relations. She is a retired postal employee and has been a member of the APWU for over 45 years. Ms. Beard is committed to helping the working class fight for the benefits they are entitled to.
Cathy Hurwit, Treasurer
Cathy Hurwit recently retired after 20 years as chief of staff to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), where she was responsible for issues related to seniors, health and long-term care, retirement security and labor — including specific concerns regarding older workers. In that position, she helped create and served as primary staffer for the House Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force, designed to ensure that the views of older Americans and their families are heard and responded to in congressional policy debates. Prior to joining Rep. Schakowsky in January 1999, Ms. Hurwit was a legislative affairs specialist at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
James Centner, Executive Board Member
Jim was a 36 year member of the United Steelworkers, an organization with over 400,000 retirees. He currently serves as Director of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR); a position he has held since 2001. Prior to this, Jim served as a Health and Safety Specialist and as the Assistant Director of the union’s Membership Development Department.
SOAR was established in 1985 to allow the union’s retired members to continue to be actively involved in their union. Centner handles the day-to-day administration of the Steelworkers retiree organization. He assists its leadership in recruiting, organizing, and coordinating senior members in retiree SOAR chapters.
Jim is a member of the United Steelworkers Leadership Team. He also serves as a board member of the Alliance for Retired Americans and chair of the Emerging Retirees and Benefits Committee. In addition, he serves on the board of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation, Pennsylvania properties.
Todd Crenshaw, Executive Board Member
Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Todd Crenshaw received his B.A. in Peace Studies and Spanish from Manchester College in 1979. Before completing his undergraduate studies, Crenshaw spent a year abroad at the University of Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain studying Spanish and International Relations. He began his work with older adults in 1979 when he served as chief senior advocate for older American concerns in San Diego’s Senior Adult Protective Services office, an experience that gave him a solid background in government programs for seniors. After earning his master’s degree in International Relations from the University of San Diego, Crenshaw moved to Washington, DC and joined the Close Up Foundation in 1985. There he worked as a program instructor, an outreach coordinator, and later as a manager for older American initiatives throughout the United States and Canada. While at Close Up, Crenshaw worked on the White House Conference on Aging under President Bill Clinton.
Crenshaw has over thirty years of professional experience in media relations, networking, coalition building, volunteer management, intergenerational program development, and leadership training. He has extensive experience in organizing, managing, and training for national and community-based educational and outreach activities.
He currently serves as the Retiree Director for the NEA and directs, develops, implements, and evaluates NEA-Retired organizing activities and Association projects including: The Retiree Rapid Response Team, Arizona’s Mobilize, Organize, Recruit & Engage (M.O.R.E.) project, Florida’s Retiree Membership Recruitment and Engagement Efforts, State Staff development trainings, NEA-Retired’s Intergenerational New Teacher Mentoring Program, Retiree Organizing Grant Program, & Political Advocacy. He also serves as the liaison to The Alliance for Retired Americans, Generations United and is an Executive Board Member of the DNC Senior Coordinating Council.
Crenshaw is also bilingual in English and Spanish.
Tom Murphy, Executive Board Member
Tom Murphy has shaped the 66,000 member strong Retired Teachers Chapter into what UFT President Michael Mulgrew calls “the daytime union.” While in-service union members are in daily workplace settings, retirees are a vibrant force for organizational and political action.
He served as the UFT’s Political/Legislative Director for UFT Presidents Sandra Feldman and Randi Weingarten from 1990-2006. Then becoming active with retirees, he was first-elected chapter leader in 2009. As Chapter Leader for the past 10 years, Tom has worked to promote the progressive agenda of organized labor. He is committed to member engagement as the best way to withstand anti-labor forces and maximize the strength of union members.
Julie Tippens, Executive Board Member
Julie Tippens has devoted her career to public policy, and community and political engagement. She joined AFGE as Retiree Program Director after serving as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Grassroots at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, where she extended the reach of its grassroots network. After graduating from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, Julie worked at the state legislature for two House Majority Leaders and for the Senate Human Resources/Aging Committee. Congressman Ron Wyden (OR) offered her a chance to move to Washington, becoming the first of four U.S. House members for whom Julie worked over a period of 18 years. She was also Political Director of the Women’s Campaign Fund, Financial Services Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Executive Director of the House Democratic Caucus under the chairmanship of then-Representative Vic Fazio (CA). She is a Senior Fellow of the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership, and has been a member of two labor unions.
Ann Widger, Executive Board Member
Ann Widger has served as Director of the AFSCME Retirees since 2013 where she leads organizing and mobilization with AFSCME’s nearly quarter million retired members. Ann originally started with AFSCME in 2003, as a retiree coordinator, where she organized new retiree groups across the country, and worked with retirees on political and legislative campaigns. Ann left AFSCME in 2008 to serve as the National Senior Vote Director for the 2008 Obama campaign and then went on the serve as an Associate Director for Public Engagement at the White House, working with the aging and health care communities. She also served as the Director of External Affairs at Department of Health and Human Services, under Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Ann lives in Washington, DC with her husband and 2-year-old twins.
Abigail Zapote, Executive Board Member
Abigail Zapote is the Executive Director for Latinos for a Secure Retirement in Washington D.C., where she leads a coalition of Latino organizations to protect Social Security, strengthen Medicare, and increase pension access and financial literacy to Latinos of all ages.
LSR and its coalition members are part of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, and is actively working to educate and mobilize the Latino community around Social Security and other retirement issues. LSR’s staff and member organizations have appeared on dozens of radio and television shows, in English and in Spanish, talking about the importance of Social Security and Medicare.
Abigail received her bachelor’s in Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas.