Reclaim New York is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that empowers New Yorkers, through education and civic engagement, to reclaim ownership of their government.
We conduct training programs to clarify complex policy issues. We’ve created affordability tools that show families why financial stability is so difficult in our state. Our transparency project is launching a wave of citizen-driven oversight that is producing more responsive local governments.
To be clear, Reclaim New York is not a think tank – we’re on the ground and we’re building. We’re exposing the entrenched and broken governing class so New Yorkers can have a more affordable place to live, work, and raise a family.
Brandon Muir, Executive Director
Brandon Muir is the Executive Director of Reclaim New York. Reclaim is a non-profit organization that empowers New Yorkers through education and civic engagement, to reclaim ownership of their government. Muir joined the organization at its inception in 2014, leading initial policy research and building Reclaim’s core operations. He leveraged a background in management consulting and grassroots-outreach to mold complex policy issues into meaningful messages for citizens. In just three years Reclaim has grown into one of the largest grassroots organizations in New York.
Prior to living in New York, Muir worked for Deloitte Consulting on mission-to-workflow alignment, process-efficiency modeling, and change-implementation efforts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department. This experience instilled the belief that all actions can be measured – a core tenet to building Reclaim New York. During his time at Deloitte he also developed an independent practice with clients in the tech, retail, and non-profit sectors.
Muir began his career in civic education with the International Republican Institute in Washington, DC and Latin America. He supported and eventually managed voter engagement efforts, institution-building programs, and government transparency initiatives across Central and South America. Fluent in Spanish, he spent extensive time in-country managing daily programmatic activities and staff.
A former collegiate golfer, Brandon is frequently on the streets of Manhattan pursuing his passion for photography.
George Phillips, Southern Tier Regional Director
George Phillips, a Binghamton area native, is a Regional Director for Reclaim New York in Upstate New York covering Broome, Tioga, Cortland, Chenango, Delaware, Sullivan, Tompkins, and Otsego Counties. George obtained degrees from Villanova University and the University of Notre Dame before serving as an aide to Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey handling foreign affairs, business, banking, trade, social security, senior issues, and immigration.
George has had a successful career as an educator, teaching a wide range of courses on the high school and community college level that have included American History, Government, Public Policy, Effective Speaking, Modern Legal Issues, Economics and Psychology. George has taught in inner city public schools and a maximum security youth detention facility and served as Dean of Students at Seton Catholic Central High School, his alma mater, in Binghamton, New York.
He has a passion for policy issues and has done work as an economic policy advisor for the Jack Kemp Foundation, working on tax, monetary, poverty, energy, and health care reform projects.
George and his wife Diana are the proud parents of three rough and tumble boys — George, Michael, and Martin. Their favorite activities include a vigorous youth soccer schedule and going to area lakes and parks in the summer.
John Byrne, Central and Northern New York Regional Director
John Byrne has seen how government operates from both sides of the transaction. He grew up in the Southern Tier and started a precision mold company there. As a business owner, Byrne had to comply with myriad state regulations, tackle soaring energy costs and pay several different types of state taxes.
Byrne subsequently moved to the North Country, where a wind power developer was trying to work in secret with town officials and landowners to erect turbines in his hometown. Byrne’s interest in the project – and frustration over the lack of transparency – inspired him to run for town council. He served four years on the Cape Vincent board in Jefferson County, overseeing a complete rewrite of the town’s zoning laws and comprehensive plan.
Byrne received his associate’s degree in applied science from Tompkins Cortland Community College, Dryden and took additional engineering courses at Clarkson University, Potsdam. He served eight years in the NY Army National Guard and US Army Reserves during the Desert Storm Era, receiving an honorable discharge.
Above all, John is proud to be married to his beautiful wife, Tatyana, of 11 years, and has one daughter Marella, who just started her fourth grade classes.
Domenick Cocchiara, Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator
Domenick Cocchiara is the Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator for Reclaim New York. The Hudson Valley district includes the counties of Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster.
Before joining Reclaim New York, Domenick worked for the Orange County government as Deputy Director for the Veterans Service Agency, where he managed outreach operations for the county’s veteran community. Prior to working for Orange County, Domenick worked as a Research Analyst at America Rising on the Presidential Team.
Since 2012, Domenick has been enlisted in the Army National Guard for the state of Maryland. His service has taken him from the heat of Puerto Rico, to the rainy forests of Germany, and to the streets of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. during the 2015 riots and 2017 inauguration respectively. With his military job focused on explosives and mines, Domenick finds the political hand grenades politicians like to throw as nothing to be worried about.
Domenick was born and raised in Orange County prior to attending American University in Washington, D.C. for his undergrad. When he isn’t obsessively reading the news, or binge watching a new TV series on Netflix, Domenick is an avid fly fisherman, hiker, and cook.
Michael Watt, Long Island Regional Director
Michael Watt has made it his personal mission to ensure Long Island’s vitality. The bulk of his career, ranging from creating and developing 516 Magazine and later LongIsland.com to serving as President of the Long Island Partnership to running an entrepreneur incubator, centers around working with small business owners and young professionals to help them meet the challenges associated with establishing roots in the region. The most commonly-expressed detriment to doing so is the tax burden endured by businesses and residents alike.
As Reclaim New York’s Long Island director, Watt strives to rectify this by getting more Long Islanders involved in the government process at the school board, village, town, county and state levels in order to increase transparency and accountability. There is no greater deterrent to inefficient (at best) or corrupt (at worst) government than active civic participation.
Watt received his master’s degree from Dowling College and his bachelor’s from the University of Scranton. He is an avid cyclist whose greatest cycling achievement occurred on May 2, 2015 when he rode his bike from the Koch / 59th Street Bridge in Manhattan to Orient Point State Park, staying on Route 25A the whole (115.4 miles) time, to highlight the fact that no other part of the country has as many different neighborhoods and vistas as Long Island.
When he’s not working or riding his bike, he lives with his wife Sharon in Babylon Village. They have two sons, Alex, 27, and Max, 23.
Jonathan Wiener, Senior Digital Director
Jonathan Wiener is the Senior Digital Director at Reclaim New York. He leads the effort to expand the organization’s online presence by amplifying its digital megaphone. Jonathan is passionate about utilizing metric driven insights to foster a cohesive content and digital strategy.
Jonathan comes from a background in social media, audience acquisition, and new media based publishing. Prior to working at Reclaim, Jonathan was a Digital Platform Manager for the video distribution platform Inform Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Inform, he began working as a freelance Digital Consultant.
Jonathan has also worked as a writer/producer/editor for a mobile news start-up called Nubbit, and as a Digital Coordinator for the Boston chapter of the grassroots advocacy organization J Street.
Born in Atlanta, Jonathan received his Master’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in Digital Media from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He received his B.A. from Tufts University with a degree in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys camping, live music, and experiencing perpetual disappointment/anger while rooting for Atlanta sports.
Louis Bertolotti, Outreach Manager
Louis Bertolotti is the Manager of Outreach and Engagement at Reclaim New York. In this role, he is responsible for developing and growing the organization’s outreach efforts through digital and grassroots marketing.
Originally from New Jersey, Louis is a graduate from the University of Notre Dame, and a passionate Mets fan. He has worked in the offices of both Democrat and Republican officials in the Garden State, and has seen firsthand the demands that government faces on a daily basis. He believes that government reform is necessary to take on the challenges of the 21st century, and that the best way to accomplish this reputable goal is to hold public officials accountable.
Louis comes from a large Italian-American family, and is eternally grateful for the opportunities that the New York metro area has given him and those close to him. He is thrilled to be working to constantly improve the region, so that he can one day raise his own children here.
Elliot Mosher, Motion Graphics Designer
Elliot Mosher is the Graphic Designer at Reclaim New York.
He oversees the creation and design of all marketing collateral, including mailers, handouts, social media, and video.
Elliot is passionate about good design, and has worked in a wide range of creative fields, from print layout design and digital design, to film and animation. In his free time he likes to work on personal projects, including making video games, and watching way too much Netflix.
Lexi Faunce, Media and Communications Associate
Lexi Faunce is a Media and Communications Associate at Reclaim New York. She works to keep New Yorkers up-to-date on the latest policy issues through social media, blog posts, and videos. Lexi is passionate about giving students a voice in politics, and she leads Reclaim’s outreach efforts on college campuses across the state.
Originally from Florida, Lexi moved to the Empire State to attend New York University where she graduated with a double major in broadcast journalism and politics. Prior to joining the organization, she was the Deputy Managing Editor of Washington Square News, NYU’s independent student newspaper.
In her free time, she enjoys exploring NYC while looking for great Cuban food.
Rebecca Toscano, Podcast Manager
Originally from a small mountain town in Western North Carolina, Rebecca graduated from The King’s College in 2015 with a B.A. in Media, Culture, and the Arts. Since graduating she has worked in communications at various nonprofits in New York City including the Manhattan Institute, Resurrection Brooklyn, and Taliesin Nexus.
She developed an interest in podcasting in 2015 when she launched and produced the Manhattan Institute podcast City Journal’s “10 Blocks.” The forthcoming Reclaim New York podcast will aim to tell the story of average New Yorkers striving to make their home state a better place to live, despite the many political and economic obstacles they face.
Reclaim New York is currently hiring. If you’re passionate about making sure government works for all New Yorkers, and want to join a growing grassroots organization poised to help make that happen, drop us a line at email@example.com. We are looking for smart, engaged candidates to fill the following positions:
Internships – Fall 2018
Reclaim New York is also looking for degree-seeking students who want to actively contribute to our organization during the Fall semester. If you’re passionate about making sure government works for all New Yorkers, and want to join a growing grassroots organization poised to help make that happen, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking for smart, engaged candidates to fill the following positions:
The Reclaim New York Center for Government Reform & Accountability was founded in September 2013.
Reclaim New York is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)3 organization that empowers citizens, through education and civic engagement, to make New York a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
Board of Directors
Chairman, Director, and Treasurer Rebekah Mercer
Secretary, and Director, Jennifer Mercer
Director, Leonard Leo
Director, Brandon Muir