Board of Trustees
Alternatives For Children
Dr. Mendelsohn, a practicing neurologist, board certified in Neurorehabilitation and Neuroimaging, served from 1987 through 1993 as Medical Director at St. Charles Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in Port Jefferson. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Mendelsohn is an adjunct clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at Stony Brook University Medical School. During his tenure at St. Charles Hospital, Dr. Mendelsohn was instrumental in the establishment of the St. Charles Educational and Therapeutic Center, serving medically fragile children, children with special needs, and children with a broad spectrum of disabilities. With the guiding hand and assistance of Dr. Mendelsohn, the St. Charles Educational and Therapeutic Center would grow to include locations in Aquebogue, Southampton and Melville, and eventually transition in 2003 to the establishment of Alternatives for Children.
Having attended undergraduate school on a music scholarship before he entered medical school, Fred has now turned to painting and writing to assuage his creative yearnings. He is an accomplished professional artist, maintaining a studio in New York City; and a published author, having released his book, A Doctor’s Journey, inspired by his patient encounters during thirty-five years of clinical practice.
Dr. Mendelsohn has always been one of Alternatives For Children’s staunchest advocates and supporters. In 2003, he, along with the Board of Trustees, oversaw the expansion and development of Alternatives For Children’s main campus, a spacious 36,000 square foot facility in East Seatuket, ensuring that there will always be a place for children with special needs and their families to come to.
Dr. Mendelsohn, and his wife Sunny, Co-Chair Alternatives For Children’s Annual Golf Outing, which every year has shown growth in the funds raised in support of Alternatives For Children’s Capital Campaign. Fred always takes the time to talk about “his kids” to anyone who will listen, to enlist their support in furthering the mission and goals of Alternatives For Children.
Jim was raised in Smithtown and graduated from Smithtown High School East, before attending the University of Vermont, graduating with a finance degree. After graduation, Jim worked in investment and commercial banking for several years before joining the family automotive business - Competition Automotive Group - founded by Jim’s father, Joseph Buzzetta, 47 years ago.
For the past 25 years, Jim has been instrumental in the growth of the Competition Automotive Group, and today the family owns six dealerships: Competition Toyota of Middle Island, Competition Infiniti of Smithtown, Competition Subaru of Smithtown, Competition BMW of Smithtown, Mercedes-Benz of Huntington and Mercedes-Benz of Smithtown. Competition employs more than 400 people and sells nearly 10,000 vehicles annually. Jim personally oversees the family’s Toyota dealership in Middle Island and the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Huntington. He is proud of the fact that the company has become a successful second generation business run by the three Buzzetta siblings; Jim, his brother Joseph, and sister Nancy, and looks forward to welcoming his own children into the business in the future.
Jim is actively involved at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, where he is one of the founding members of the St. Charles Hospital Foundation, serving for three years as Foundation Chairman. Jim was recognized by St. Charles Hospital in 2009 for his business achievements, as well as his charitable and philanthropic efforts across Long Island, and named recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Award.
Jim joined the Board of Trustees in 2005 where he quickly became a strong advocate for, and an ardent supporter of the administration, staff, and the vision and mission of Alternatives For Children. Serving as the event chairperson, for fifteen years Jim has literally been the driving force behind our annual Fall Fundraiser, the Alternatives For Children Classic and Sports Car Rally. Through his sponsorship of this fundraising event, Jim has been personally involved over the years in raising much needed funds to assure that Alternatives For Children can continue to offer the highest quality educational and therapeutic services to the children and families we serve.
Anjali Jamdar of East Setauket, joined the Board of Trustees at Alternatives For Children in the Fall of 2015. She is Vice President of Executive Recruiting at CA Technologies in Islandia.
Mr. Lessing joined the Board of Trustees at Alternatives For Children in 2016. Mr. Lessing, C.E.C., is Director of System Analytics for Lessing’s, Inc., a family owned Long Island business spanning six generations and one of the leading companies in the catering and dining industry for the New York region. Mr. Lessing's knowledge of the Long Island community and his broad experience in business and event planning will be an asset for Alternatives For Children.
Mr. Mirza joined the Board of Trustees at Alternatives For Children in 2016. Mrs. Mirza, together with her husband Dr. Ather Mirza, are long-time supporters of Alternatives For Children. We are delighted that Vivian has chosen to serve as a Trustee and share her unique abilities and perspectives withe the Board as Alternatives For Children continues the important work of fulfilling its mission.
Mr. Russell, with over thirty years experience in the financial field, is Senior Partner of the Russell Wealth Management Group of UBS Financial Services Inc. in Port Jefferson. He joined the Board of Trustees of Alternatives For Children in 2001, bringing with him broad based experience and a wealth of knowledge, having served as New York State Cable Television Commissioner; Chair of the New York State Small Business Development Corporation; Member of the MTA Capital Review Board, Chief of Staff for the New York State Senate Majority Leader; Chairman of Health and Hospitals for the State University System; Member of the Board of Directors of the State University of New York; Chairman of the Nassau/Suffolk Hospital Association; founding member of the board of Jefferson's Ferry, CCRC; and Trustee of John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.
In 2005, the Board of Trustees of Alternatives For Children undertook a bricks and mortar $2.3 million Capital Campaign. The Capital Campaign, chaired by Mr. Russell with the same level of personal service and professional integrity that he offers his clients, is vital to ensuring the viability and continuing growth of Alternatives For Children’s programs and services. All fundraising efforts and solicitation of gifts from major donors for the Capital Campaign would go towards two efforts. The first, which was accomplished in 2010, was paying for the land on which Alternatives For Children East Setauket is located. The second goal, which we hope to accomplish by February of 2013, is raising funds for a special redemption of up to a $1 million, reducing our principal debt on the IDA Bond for the construction of the East Setauket facility.
Mr. Russell, along with his wife Barbara, are residents of East Setauket. Mike is proud of his longstanding affiliation with Alternatives For Children, and feels privileged to be associated with an organization that has been there for so many families. He is steadfast in his commitment that Alternatives For Children be poised for the future, to help the children still to follow
Ms. Van Vort, is a partner at Garfunkel Wild, P.C. in Great Neck, where her practice includes corporate governance and transactions, health care regulation, including HIPAA compliance, financing, acquisitions and sales of health systems, hospitals, physician practices and other health industry clients. In addition, Ms. Van Vort has worked extensively on the formation of new, and the acquisition and sale of existing, not-for-profit corporations for hospitals and health system clients. Ms. Van Vort has lectured on HIPAA and has extensive experience negotiating technology agreements.
Tina joined the Alternatives For Children Board of Trustees in 2006, at a time when Medicaid reimbursement formulas, HIPPA compliance and health care regulations were in a constant state of flux and change. With her broad-based knowledge and experience in the corporate health care industry, and her work with not-for profit clients, Tina adds a new and needed dimension to the Board of Trustees at Alternatives For Children.