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The Vital Role & Impact of District Leaders: Celebrating Lori Citron Knipel For 30 Years As District Leader, Pioneer Policy Maker

Mayor Adams, County Leaders Honor A Prominent Trailblazer’s Advocacy

January 24, 2023 Special from IN PUBLIC SERVICE
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A lifelong Flatbush native, a mother, and an attorney, Hon. Lori Citron Knipel has been an ardent advocate for over four decades, even shaping the national Democratic agenda as she continued uplifting Brooklynites at home.

Lori’s impact was felt in full force on Thursday, Jan. 19, with a celebration honoring her years of service as a District Leader for the Brooklyn Democratic Party. 

The Brooklyn Democratic Party, along with members of Brooklyn Independent Democratic Club (which Knipel founded in 1997), NYS Supreme Court Justices and NYC Judges, State Senators, Assemblymembers, New York City Councilmembers, and other prominent electeds – including NYC Mayor Eric Adams – all lauded Knipel’s immense impact on Brooklyn and beyond.

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Lori C. Knipel and Councilmember Farah Louis (CD 45). Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta.

“Lori’s leadership for Assembly District 44 and lifelong advocacy for community, civic and political issues continue to benefit Brooklyn immeasurably,” said Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn at Gravesend’s Metropolitan Ballroom. “She has carved out a career and reputation we all know as one of our borough’s preeminent lawyers, political leaders, and civic activists.”

(Knipel has been District Leader under the tenure of six Kings County Democratic County Committee Party Chairs, just to give you a scope of her longevity.)

Mayor Eric Adams also gave an inspiring speech, espousing Lori’s lifelong impact on improving the lives of Brooklynites and serving as a role model for future leaders.

(Left to right.) Lori Citron Knipel, Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, and Party Executive Director Yamil Speight-Miller. Photo: Brooklyn Democratic Party.
Chair Bichotte Hermelyn’s praise was joined by the chorus of many of Lori’s fellow District Leaders, alongside the Party’s Executive Committee: (Left to right.) Top row: Hon. Lori C. Knipel; Joseph Bova, District Leader (AD 49); Executive Director Yamil Speight-Miller.
Bottom Row: Kalman Yeger, Councilmember and District Leader (AD 41); Jennifer Faucher, fellow DL for AD 41; Shaquana Boykin, DL (AD 57); and Nancy Tong, DL (AD 47) and Party Secretary. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta.
(Left to right) [Front Row] Anthony Jones, Brooklyn Democratic Party District Leader (AD 55) and 5th Vice Chair; Kalman Yeger, Councilmember and District Leader (AD 41); Jennifer Faucher, DL (AD 41); Shaquana Boykin, DL (AD 57); Nancy Tong, DL (AD 47) and Party Secretary; Nancy Tong, DL (AD 47); Jacqui Painter, DL (AD 51); NYS Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (SD 19); Doug Schneider, DL (AD 44). [Back Row] Sue Ann Partnow, District Manager – Community Board Board 18 (Brooklyn); Henry Butler, Brooklyn Democratic Party Vice Chair and DL (AD 56); Lori Citron Knipel; Joseph Bova, DL (AD 49); Yamil Speight Miller, Brooklyn Dems Executive Director. Photo: Brooklyn Democratic Party.

A Civic Stalwart of Brooklyn

On top of serving three decades as the Democratic district leader for the 44th Assembly District (Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Victorian Flatbush, Ditmas Park), Knipel has been a member of Brooklyn’s Community Board 14 for over four decades. 

In both capacities, she has helped numerous constituents resolve a multitude of issues giving of her time and expertise in cutting through a lot of bureaucratic red tape.

Additionally, Lori founded the Brooklyn Independent Democratic Club (BID), which continues to be admired for its great reputation and advocacy in the Democratic life of New York City.

BID consistently presents guest speakers, and town hall meetings with elected officials – topped off by Lori Knipel’s annual springtime party of politicos dubbed “Celebration in March.”  

BID also works on issues of concern to all residents of the district; including education, healthcare, and housing; also while holding frequent voter registration drives and working together with the Brooklyn Democratic Party and electeds to help resolve the issues of the district and beyond.

(Left to Right) Sue Ann Partnow, District Manager – Community Board Board 18 (Brooklyn); Lori Citron Knipel; NYS Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (SD 19). Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta.

Lori was also celebrated for her reforms within the Brooklyn Democratic Party over her decades as DL, including forming the former Women’s Caucus to make sure women’s voices were amplified and organizing a screening process for all judicial candidates (that has now become standard and is continually being expanded).

Lori’s deep ties to Brooklyn’s community extend to being “a lawyer, community board member, district leader, loving mom, and grandmother just to name a few,” said Brooklyn Democratic Party Executive Director Yamil-Speight Miller. “I can go on and on about Lori. But we certainly acknowledge her longevity and follow her lead as we continue serving communities.”

Knipel and Yamil-Speight Miller. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta.

Putting Universal Pre-K on the National Agenda

Lori served twice as a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention and was an appointed Delegate to sit on the National Platform Committee–which helps party leaders detail and document what the party stands for and runs on in the presidential election that year. 

“Lori doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to her community—to say she is a relentless advocate is an understatement,” said Bichotte Hermelyn.

During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Knipel was told it was “impossible” to get Universal Pre-K included in the Democratic National Platform. “She ignored the naysayers,” Bichotte Hermelyn said, “Corey Booker seconded the motion, and it got passed.”

“Now universal pre-kindergarten is a staple of the Democratic Party, and an integral part of New York City that helps all parents, especially low-income ones, get the pivotal free education to uplift their children to success,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.

Lori Knipel’s 3-year-old Grandaughter joined the ceremony. Photo: Brooklyn Democratic Party.

The Epitome of a true Brooklynite

Lori attended all the local public schools, graduated from Midwood HS, Brooklyn College with a BA Cum Laude in Political Science and earned her JD Law Degree from CUNY School of Law. 

Citron got involved in politics as a young girl, through her brother Steve Citron. “Back in 1968, Steve was the leader of the Young Democrats and he got me involved in campaigning for Hubert Humphrey [Vice President for Lyndon B. Johnson],” the Eagle previously reported.

She was also the founder of the Flatbush Renaissance Committee, a Past President of Park Slope Hadassah and a past Board Member of Temple Beth Emeth.

All these years later, Lori still resides with her family in Flatbush where she raised her two children Richard & Rachel along with her husband, NYS Supreme Couty Justice Lawrence Knipel. She is the proud “young “ Grandmother of 3-year-old Breanna.

A Fierce Legal Advocate Lauded by the Judicial System

Lori owns her own legal practice, focused on the public interest area, dealing with elder law issues, environmental law, public policy. 

Knipel was celebrated for her immense pro bono work in the area of disability law concentrating on cases involving Asperger’s and serving on the Board of FAAAS (Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome).

“Lori’s tenacity continues to this very day. She recently was instrumental in getting a residential eviction overturned a year after a tenant was evicted, thus allowing the tenant to move back into their apartment,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. 

To top it off, Lori is admitted to Practice Law before the NYS Bar, The Washington DC Bar, Two Federal District Courts and the US Supreme Court–and has been admitted to a special group of lawyers that are allowed to argue cases in front of the US Supreme Court.

On that note, Lori was also celebrated by Judges and New York State Supreme Court justices in attendance, many of whom were recently nominated by the Brooklyn Democratic Party to run on the ticket line and then elected. 

Justices and Judges tributing Knipel. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta.

As the night concluded, Brooklyn’s top political and civic leaders reflected on Knipel’s success while also anticipating much more to come.

The crowd celebrating Lori C. Knipel at the Metropolitan Ballroom celebration in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Photo: Brooklyn Democratic Party.
Brooklyn Eagle photo by Arthur DeGaeta.

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