Staff

Counsel to the Mayor Staff

Photo of Kapil Longani – Counsel to the Mayor

Kapil Longani – Counsel to the Mayor

Kapil is the son of immigrants who instilled in him a strong belief in the power of government to improve people’s lives and a deep commitment to public service. Before joining the administration, Kapil served as Senior Counsel to Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives. Kapil acted as the Democratic staff's lead investigator in several inquiries including the Flint water crisis, contractor fraud at the Department of Defense, the Department of State's rejection of the Keystone Pipeline application, the Trump Administration's response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Environmental Protection Agency's Waters of the United States rulemaking process. Prior to his work in Congress, Kapil served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia where he prosecuted cases involving sexual assault, homicide, robbery, narcotics, and illegal firearms. He previously worked as a litigator in New York City at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and served as a law clerk to Judge Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Judge Richard Smoak of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

Kapil holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and legal degrees from the University of Florida, Yale, and Oxford University.

Fun Fact: Kapil once ate a dozen samosas in under 30 minutes during competitive eating competition.

Alexis  Blane – First Deputy Counsel

Alexis Blane – First Deputy Counsel

Alexis Blane is the Principal Deputy Counsel to the Mayor and was previously Acting Counsel to the Mayor.  She has been the architect of the City's COVID-19 workforce vaccine mandates and led on school reopening and testing programs, as well as overseeing work on education, police reform, and human rights.  Prior to working for the City, she was an advisor to social enterprises and nonprofits working on international justice issues.  At the Clinton Foundation, she was Governance Officer & Associate General Counsel, where she developed industry-leading best practices for social enterprises and led Foundation-Board relations.  She also served as an Attorney Advisor at the US State Department where she focused on law enforcement and intelligence law, including international extradition, counter-piracy, and anti-corruption work.  She is a member of the Board of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School.  Ms. Blane holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law, a DPhil from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and an A.B. from Duke University, where she was an avid attendee of basketball games.

Fun Fact: Alexis once took the wicket of a century maker at Lord’s.

Alexis  Blane – First Deputy Counsel

Bess Chiu – Chief of Staff

Bess Chiu is Chief of Staff to the Counsel to the Mayor. In this role, she works collaboratively with senior policymakers in City Hall and executive agencies across City government on various issues including legal and policy matters. Bess joined the Mayor’s Office as Associate Counsel in 2014 and previously served as an attorney for the Administration for Children’s Services. Bess is a graduate of Wellesley College and Cardozo School of Law.

Fun fact: Bess once hiked and roasted marshmallows on an active volcano in Guatemala.

Kate Cocklin – Deputy Counsel

Kate Cocklin – Deputy Counsel

Kate Cocklin is a Deputy Counsel to the Mayor, where she has worked since 2016. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Kate was an Associate at Levitt LLP, where she worked on commercial litigation and resolving business disputes. She also served as a Fellow at the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor where she represented the Commission in administrative matters and coordinated with New York and New Jersey law enforcement.  Kate holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a J.D. from Hofstra Law.

Fun fact: Kate has a bacon, egg and cheese-obsessed Goldendoodle named Charlie, who is probably trying to play fetch with someone right now.

Rebecca Besaw –  Associate Counsel

Rebecca Besaw – Associate Counsel

Rebecca Besaw is an Associate Counsel to the Mayor. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Rebecca was a Litigation Associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where she assisted clients in a wide-variety of litigation matters in state and federal courts. Rebecca holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas, Austin and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Fun fact: In college, Rebecca was on the university water ski team where she competed in the long jump event, catapulting herself off of a 5 ft ramp on two extra-long skis… she never landed, not once.

Todd  Ferrara – Associate Counsel

Todd Ferrara – Associate Counsel

Todd Ferrara is an Associate Counsel to the Mayor.  Todd served for the last 5 years as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, handling the production of agency records requested through freedom of information laws, subpoenas, and discovery demands.  Prior to becoming an attorney, Todd managed district offices for New York State Assembly Members in the Bronx and Queens.  A lifelong resident of the Lower East Side, Todd has a J.D. from CUNY Law School.

Fun fact: Todd ran the 2003 New York City Marathon.

Mairead  Jones-Kennelly – Associate Counsel

Mairead Jones-Kennelly – Associate Counsel

Mairead Jones-Kennelly is an Associate Counsel to the Mayor. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Mairead was a public defender at Brooklyn Defender Services, where she litigated child abuse and neglect cases. Mairead also clerked for the Honorable J. Michael Ryan in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Mairead holds an undergraduate degree from Boston College and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.

Fun fact: Mairead was at the Super Bowl when the stadium had a blackout.

Kevin Kelly –  Associate Counsel

Kevin Kelly – Senior Associate Counsel

Kevin J. Kelly is a Senior Associate Counsel to the Mayor. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Kevin was Senior Counsel at the New York City Law Department, where he litigated cases alleging civil rights violations in state and federal courts, and an Honors Associate at the New York City Housing Authority, where he advised on and litigated issues related to public housing in New York City. Kevin holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Fun fact: Prior to embarking on his legal career, Kevin was a semi-professional drummer who recorded and toured with several now-forgotten musical groups.

Judith Lê – Associate Counsel

Judith Lê – Associate Counsel

Judith Lê is an Associate Counsel to the Mayor. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Judith was a Policy and Legal Analyst at the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board, where she authored policy reports and managed a portfolio of policy initiatives. She also served as a Program Associate at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, where she worked to develop and implement a grantmaking portfolio on international children’s rights. Judith holds an undergraduate degree from New York University, a MSc from Oxford University, and a J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law.

Fun fact: Judith’s first job was at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP). To this day, she still has a complicated relationship with breakfast food.

Laura Negrón – Chief Privacy Officer

Laura Negrón – Chief Privacy Officer

Laura is the first woman in her family to attend college, born to immigrant parents who placed an extremely high value on education and public service but did not have the opportunity for a higher education. Before joining the Administration, Laura had an extensive career in various executive, legal, and community-based leadership positions serving largely underrepresented communities and populations throughout New York City. Among these positions, she directed a demonstration project at the Vera Institute of Justice, a policy reform initiative providing civil legal and other services to individuals adjudicated by a court as incapacitated; served as a deputy county attorney in the Office of the Nassau County Attorney’s Legal Counsel and Affirmative Litigation bureaus; and was dean of institutional advancement at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus. She has also developed and managed numerous community-based organizations’ divisions and programs in education, mental health, immigration, career development, and senior care, having raised millions of dollars in grant funding and philanthropic support -- the common thread in these roles, to serve the public interest by working to solve complex policy, socio-economic, and legal problems in new and innovative ways.

Laura holds an undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton, a master’s degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work at CUNY, and a J.D. from CUNY School of Law, where she served as Managing Editor of the New York City Law Review, and was awarded and completed a Charles Revson Public Interest fellowship at Human Rights Watch. Her note, Gender and Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa, was published in the East African Journal on Peace and Human Rights (Uganda).

Fun fact: Having studied various forms of dance since the age of 3, Laura is an avid salsa dancer, having taken classes for more than twenty years with a variety of talented and prominent instructors. She has been part of student salsa performances in different NYC venues over the years, and especially enjoys salsa cruises with family and good friends, where she gets to dance and enjoy fabulous music performed by world-renowned musicians.

Stathi  Patseas –<b> Communications Advisor

Stathi Patseas – Communications Advisor

Stathi Patseas is the Communications Advisor to the Counsel to the Mayor, managing all team communications. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Stathi worked as a political campaign consultant, campaign manager, and grassroots organizer, working to elect progressive candidates across the country. He holds degrees from the University of Nebraska and Georgetown University.

Fun fact: Stathi holds both American and Greek citizenship.

Ronald Attilio  Porcelli – Associate Counsel

Ronald Attilio Porcelli – Associate Counsel

Ronald Porcelli is an Associate Counsel to the Mayor. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Ronald was a staff attorney in the Tenant Rights Coalition at Manhattan Legal Services. As a litigator, Ronald defended tenants facing eviction and brought affirmative litigation on behalf of tenants facing harassment, including LGBTQ harassment. As a housing rights activist, Ronald organized communities to build tenant associations and instructed on tenant rights and legal recourse against harassment. Before serving at Manhattan Legal Services, Ronald worked with the UNESCO Office of the Pacific States, focusing on the World Heritage Convention and international humanitarian and human rights law. Ronald holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, specializing in international law.

Fun fact: As a proud Cuban-American, Ronald’s absolute favorite Cuban cuisine is masa de Puerco (drenched in lime, garlic, and onions) with sides of yucca, platanos maduros, and arroz con frijoles – finished off with a batido de mamey, pastelitos de guayaba, natilla, arroz con leche, and dangerous amounts of Café Cubano (HEAVEN!).

Julianna  Tabak – Associate Counsel

Julianna Tabak – Associate Counsel

Julianna Tabak is an Associate Counsel to the Mayor. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Julianna was Senior Counsel at the New York City Law Department, where she litigated cases involving catastrophic injuries and media exposure in state and federal courts, and an Assistant Town Attorney at the Babylon Town Attorney’s Office, where she litigated cases alleging personal injuries in state court, and served as the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Officer. Julianna holds an undergraduate degree from Long Island University Brooklyn and a J.D. from Hofstra Law School.

Fun fact: Julianna has never eaten a McDonald’s burger.

Laura  Wood – Senior Advisor & General Counsel

Laura Wood – Chief Democracy Officer

Laura serves as Chief Democracy Officer, advising on election law and voting reforms. DemocracyNYC's mission is to increase voter registration and participation in New York City. Prior to this position, she served as Senior Advisor & General Counsel to DemocracyNYC. She also spent five years as Senior Advisor and Special Counsel to the New York State Attorney General. Before that, Laura was Chief Counsel to the Democratic Conference of the New York State Senate and Policy Director to State Senator Daniel Squadron. Laura clerked for the Honorable Rebecca Pallmeyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and Julio M. Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. After clerking, she was an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. She received her J.D. from Northwestern and her A.B. from Brown University.

Fun fact: After law school in Chicago, Laura took improv classes at Second City. Alas, a career on SNL did not pan out, so the J.D. has come in handy.