Meet the Team

Will Brightbill

Senior Advisor – Community Affairs and Housing 

Will joined Council Member Garodnick’s office in March of 2014. He serves as the Council Member’s liaison to Community Board 8. 

Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle, Will grew up on a farm growing cotton, corn, and soybeans.  In 2011, Will graduated from Hardin-Simmons University where he majored in Political Science and History.  While attending HSU, he interned for a Texas Representative and studied history in London and Spanish in Salamanca, Spain.  In September 2011, Will moved to NYC to attend New York University where he studied European Politics.  Prior to joining the Council Member’s staff,  Will worked in luxury event design and production in the NYC area.  His political interests include environmental protection, renewable energy, and promoting equal rights.

Cory Epstein

Communications Director

Cory joined Council Member Garodnick's office in July 2016. He is a recent graduate of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, during which he worked with organizations such as the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, LiUNA Local 78. and the Taxi and Limousine Commission. In 2012, he served as a Deputy Field Organizer on Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney's first congressional campaign and for three summers was a counselor at the Seeds of Peace camp in Maine. 

Cory holds a B.A. in Political Science and Jewish Studies from Vassar College and spent 10 months of his Junior year studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Originally from South Orange, New Jersey, he now calls Prospect Heights, Brooklyn home. 

Ellen Gustafson 

Director of Operations

Ellen joined Council Member Garodnick's staff in February 2014 after previously working on his campaign and later serving as an intern during his first term in office. In addition to being responsible for maintaining the Council Member's daily schedule, she serves as intern coordinator and plans events in the district.

Ellen was born and raised in Manhattan and settled back on the east side after college. Prior to joining the staff, Ellen attended law school. While in law school, she interned at the Supreme Court in New York County and worked on statutory legal research. 

Ellen's areas of interest include individuals with developmental disabilities and the elderly.  

Howie Levine

Economic Development Advisor & Community Liaison

Originally from Minnesota, Howie joins the office after spending a year in Washington, D.C. lobbying for federal anti-poverty programs and gun violence prevention legislation. Howie graduated from Tufts University in 2013, where he majored in Peace and Justice Studies. While at Tufts, Howie interned for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and managed the Tufts Quidditch team.  

Leah Reiss

Legislative Director & Community Liaison

Leah joined Council Member Garodnick's office in July of 2015 and now serves as the Council Member's Legislative Aide and the liaison to Community Board 5. 

Originally from central New Jersey, Leah attended Barnard College, where she graduated with a B.A. in Political Science. She also spent a year studying at the London School of Economics. During her time at Barnard, Leah interned with the National Organization for Women and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. 

Marianna Vaidman Stone

Chief of Staff

Marianna re-joined Council Member Garodnick's office as Senior Policy Advisor in September 2015, having previously served in the same capacity in 2006-2008. She became Chief of Staff in November 2016.

Marianna grew up in Manhattan, and currently lives in the 4th District. She is a graduate of Williams College and the NYU School of Law. After law school, Marianna clerked for the Supreme Court of New Jersey, and then worked as a commercial litigator. She has also worked in the non-profit sector, at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Urban Green Council. Her interests include land use policy, sustainability, and the impact of the built environment on physical and mental health.