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Marketing Executive Brooke Burdge Joins the Board of Directors at The Casey Feldman Foundation

Friday, February 19th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

The Casey Feldman Foundation is pleased to announce the newest member of its board of directors, Brooke Burdge. Her exceptional professional background and experience in digital marketing will help further the mission of the foundation to assist individuals, groups, and institutions who align themselves with causes close to Casey’s heart.

Brooke Burdge

Brooke currently works as the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Attentive, a company she helped found in 2016 that began with fewer than ten employees and now has over 500. Attentive is a personalized mobile messaging platform for well-known brands such as Urban Outfitters, Sephora, and many others. Before her time at Attentive, Brooke served as the Head of Marketing at TapCommerce, and fulfilled marketing roles at companies like Movable Ink and Deloitte. As a volunteer, she has also mentored nonprofits on their marketing strategy.

Having a special interest and expertise in the interconnectivity between digital technology and communications, Brooke will  help the foundation with “all things digital,” focusing on the website, social media strategy, and helping to increase brand awareness and the mission of The Casey Feldman Foundation. According to Joel Feldman, the co-founder,   “Brooke brings to the Casey Feldman Foundation a wealth of experience and expertise in online marketing and communications, and will ramp our efforts up to a higher level. We are incredibly fortunate to have her,” he said. Brooke has been involved with the foundation since its inception, assisting with the initial build of its website. 

In 2010, Brooke, who was a close friend and classmate of Casey’s,  was recognized as one of the first recipients of The Casey A. Feldman Memorial Scholarship at Fordham University. “I’ve always been drawn to the ‘because of Casey’ message the foundation has created. Casey affected everyone’s lives in different ways—during her time on earth and after—so that’s why I like to be close to her memory and the foundation,” she revealed.

Brooke Burdge & Casey Feldman, circa 2006.

The two met at an Accepted Students Day before their freshman year, and further bonded during their time working on The Observer. As they became closer, they discovered they shared a love of animals and began volunteering together at Animal Haven shelter in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. Brooke said of Casey, “She really lived every day with a positive attitude. She was always the one to encourage me to stop studying and to go do something fun. She helped me see that life wasn’t all about working hard and it was important to make time for your friends and your family.” 

Brooke’s work assisting brands in communicating with their subscriber audiences at Attentive and the skill set she developed during her time spent with nonprofits have given her the background to create specific goals for the foundation. For example, she also hopes to connect members of the foundation’s community by creating a digital network for those who the foundation has helped, and strengthen the foundation’s email communications program. 

Dianne Anderson, co-founder of The Casey Feldman Foundation, believes Brooke will be a valuable addition to the board. “Brooke is smart, hardworking, and gets things done. She has wasted no time in already jumping right in to help us create a new website and improve our branding and reach on social media. Her digital prowess, coupled with her close friendship with Casey and passion for our foundation work, makes her a tremendous asset and an exciting addition to our board,” she said. 

Almost 11 years after Casey’s passing, Brooke continues to live with the lessons Casey taught her. When she is not working hard at Attentive, she likes to spend her time with her rescue dogs, Penny and Amigo, whom she refers to as her “little crew.”

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

Ten Years Later, Casey Feldman’s Values Still Resonate

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Casey Feldman was the News Editor of The Observer, Fordham University’s student newspaper. In the feature article reprinted below, The Observer remembers Casey and highlights the work of The Casey Feldman Foundation in the ten years since Casey’s death.

By SAMANTHA MATTHEWS, Staff Writer

Dianne Anderson holds up her daughter’s image to fight for a new pedestrian safety law in New Jersey. The law was passed on April 1, 2010.

It has been ten years since Casey Feldman was struck and killed by a distracted driver in Ocean City, New Jersey. Casey, who served as the 2008-2009 News Editor of The Observer, was about to enter her senior year at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) and pursuing a career as a journalist. While that all came to an end on July 17, 2009, her parents continue to make sure Casey still has an impact on the Fordham community today. “She was so kind-hearted, so loving and always found time in her busy, busy schedule to help those less fortunate,” said Dianne Anderson, Casey’s mother. “That included volunteering at a soup kitchen, a women’s shelter and a no kill animal shelter.”

Helping those in need was a huge part of Casey’s life. Her best friend and roommate at Fordham, Kelsey Butler, FCLC ’10, said, “For example, when she saw someone who was homeless and she was walking home from dinner, she would always give her leftovers to that person.” Butler now serves on the board of CFMF.

Casey was also a passionate journalist. In her time at The Observer, she had written over 20 articles tackling topics ranging from HIV and AIDS to the mental health of college students. Her suitemate, Janine Repka, FCLC ’10, said, “I think she was always looking for something that was a little bit more meaty than your average college campus story.”

Her father, Joel Feldman, said that in the weeks after Casey’s death her colleagues at The Observer expressed their condolences. One colleague revealed to him that, “Casey taught them that each and every person has a unique and beautiful story, and we need to tell stories because telling stories changes lives.”

After Casey passed, Feldman and Anderson began working with legislators in New Jersey to revise their Pedestrian Safety Law. The law previously stated that motorists are required to yield for pedestrians. The new law, which her parents refer to as “Casey’s Law,” now requires motorists to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians in marked crosswalks or at intersections where there are no marked crosswalks. This was the beginning of their path into advocacy because of Casey.

Anderson, along with Feldman, tries to preserve and project Casey’s character and values into the world today through their foundation, The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation (CFMF).

Casey’s vigor to find those “meaty” stories translates to the work her parents do at the foundation. What she stood for is championed by her parents through their unending support of volunteer work, scholarships and grants, and their fight to end distracted driving.

The mission of their foundation “is to carry on things that were important to Casey,” according to Butler. Every year on the date of Casey’s death, which those that were close to her refer to as her “angelversary,” the foundation sponsors a day of service. In 2018, Anderson organized it with their local animal shelter, Providence Animal Center, inspired by Casey’s love for animals.

Matthew Thornton, who was Casey’s boyfriend, attended and said, “it’s an opportunity for people to go and kind of live the experience that (Casey) would have. (Dianne and Joel) put forth that kind of selflessness into the world by cleaning up and rearranging in the shelters and cages, dating the food that gets donated to these shelters.”

The foundation is also focused on financially helping current students who exhibit qualities like Casey. At Casey’s high school, Springfield High School in Pennsylvania, they offer a yearly scholarship. Thornton assists the Feldmans in choosing the recipient, in which they look at student’s essays and activities for qualities that align with Casey’s. Casey’s mom said that they do not solely focus on the students with the best grades but those who give back to the community and show a commitment to volunteerism.

The foundation also offers a scholarship here at Fordham University for communications students to perform an unpaid internship for those who would not be able to afford it. However, since New York State is changing its laws on unpaid interns, Joel Feldman said, ”We’re going to be redirecting the focus of that entirely to supporting The Observer in different ways.” Since Casey’s passing, the foundation has financially supported The Observer.

“The Feldmans wanted to do something to keep Casey’s memory alive,” said Elizabeth Stone, Ph.D., professor of English at FCLC and advisor to The Observer at the time of Casey’s death, “So together we talked through what would be useful and most help The Observer.”

Stone and the Feldmans devised three ideas that were then implemented. The first was the internship scholarship for communications students mentioned above. The second was underwriting funds for educational purposes, such as sending more students to journalism conferences and hosting speakers. The third was providing funds for hardware and software The Observer otherwise wouldn’t be able to have.

Additionally, the foundation takes on interns from The Observer. This semester, it is Copy Editor Melanie Riehl, FCLC ’22. She writes articles for CFMF and has recently spoken with a mother and father who had lost their son to distracted driving. “They turned that grief into advocacy, and they decided to fight for the Minnesota Hands-Free Law,” Riehl said. Riehl put together an article that will be published. Writing these articles gives aspiring journalists like Casey opportunities to practice and hone their craft, as well as increasing awareness for distracted driving.

A large project of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation is End Distracted Driving (EndDD). EndDD is spearheaded by Casey’s father. About three months after Casey’s death, he had a realization, “I could have been that driver because I drove distracted all the time.” Her parents wanted to do something to raise awareness against distracted driving.

EndDD has a network of over 500 volunteers who give speeches to schools nationwide on how to not become a distracted driver, all without cost to the school. Feldman himself has given over 700 presentations, and EndDD has reached over 450,000 students.

EndDD partners with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to develop methods to deliver an effective presentation. They center their presentation on respect. By establishing the fact that most students would consider themselves respectful people, Feldman said, “There’s really not a whole lot that’s respectful about driving and looking at your phone instead of the road. Respect for others, to me, is a full time value. It’s not something we just do when it’s convenient.”

EndDD is always working on how to make their presentations as effective as possible by providing free educational materials, driving agreements, quizzes, surveys and public service announcements. Every year they also sponsor a teen distracted driving video and meme contest. EndDD found that through creating a video on distracted driving, students are learning about safe driving practices. Through this knowledge, it is affirming the fact that the students do not want to be a distracted driver themselves.

Riehl said that the mission of EndDD has impacted her personally. “If you’re someone who’s lost someone else or a family member and you tell a distracted driving story, it hits home differently for people who hear it,” she said.

EndDD focuses their mission on the people who really need to hear it — the next generation of drivers. In December, they are launching a new program directed at elementary schools — the first of its kind in the country. It’s going to teach children to recognize when their parents are distracted and the communication skills to articulate that they feel unsafe. This will create fewer drivers on the road now and in the future.

Repka got a chance to speak at her own high school with EndDD. She said it was one of the most impactful moments because she got to see Casey’s story impact the next generation. “I got to be able to say to them — you’re going to go on to the rest of your life and you’re going to meet people who are going to become your best friends. Hold them close and cherish them,” said Repka. By telling stories that hit so close to home, it resonates with students. No one wants to be the driver that killed someone’s best friend, partner or child because they had to check their phone.

Here at Fordham, not many students get behind the wheel of a car daily because of subways, buses, taxis and Ubers, but even as a pedestrian or passenger, there are still ways to help end distracted driving. Butler said, “As a passenger you have an ability to make an impact. If you’re perhaps driving around with friends and they are driving distracted, you can always speak up and say something.” Butler said it can even be as easy as saying, “Why don’t I change the music for you so you can focus on the road.”

In the past 10 years, CFMF and EndDD have both grown, but their mission stays the same — projecting Casey’s generous spirit and ending the act that took it all away.

The Feldmans took what is the worst tragedy a parent can face and turned it into a mission for good. In spite of his daughter’s passing, Feldman said, “I think I’m about about the luckiest person in the world because I get people, mostly students coming up to me and talking to me and saying how it’s changed their lives. They’re being saved.”

Casey wrote articles because every story she told had the capacity to make the world a better place, even if it was just slightly. The work done through the foundation and EndDD does the same.

Matt Thornton lauded about the Feldman’s approach of grief and even adopted it himself. He said, “You either move forward and find the best out of what you can or otherwise it leaves people kind of paralyzed and empty. I don’t think that people want to live their lives in that vein.”

The Feldmans’ career of volunteering and advocacy helps others in need, but in doing that they are also spreading a little bit of Casey’s heart wherever they go. Because of that, Casey’s memory and her values will live on in all who are touched by her story.

[Reprinted from the The Observer]

 

Fordham Observer Scholarship Recipients Attend Associated Collegiate Press Conferences

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

By Dianne L. Anderson

Harry Huggins, The Observer’s 2011 Recipient

With scholarship stipends from the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, two students from Fordham University’s Fordham College Lincoln Center (FCLC) were able to attend the 2011 and 2012 Associated Collegiate Press  (ACP) conferences. Both students are staff members of The Observer, the student newspaper at FCLC, where Casey was News Editor at the time of her death.

Casey was able to attend the San Francisco conference in 2008 and the scholarships in memory of Casey enable at least one student each year to attend this very informative and educational journalism conference from which Casey learned a great deal. The Observer won Best of Show both years for a four year non weekly newspaper and Best of Show this year for their website.

Harry Huggins, a native of Illinois and junior at FCLC, attended the 2011 conference in Los Angeles. Like Casey, his major is Communication and Media Studies with a concentration in Journalism.   Harry has been a staff member of The Observer since his freshman year, occupying the position of Opinions Editor for the last two years.  Harry has just been selected as Editor-in-Chief for next year. Reportedly “passionate about journalism”,  Harry’s  goal is to someday be an “editor … somewhere!”

In expressing his gratitude for the scholarship stipend, Harry reported that his time at the conference gave him the ideas and advice from media professionals that ignited his drive to turn The Observer into a modern online news source. According to Harry, “With the tips I got at the conference, we are now focusing on multimedia content and breaking news reporting to better serve the Fordham community.”

In addition to his work on The Observer, Harry  is interning this semester with MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. After studying in London last year and copy editing the party newspaper for the Liberal Democrat party, Harry interned with MSNBC’s Morning Joe upon his return to New York.  Back home in Chicago last summer Harry served as the Community Producer of the Chicago Tribune’s branch of hyperlocal websites, TribLocal.  His passion for journalism however, extends back to his pre-college years where Mr. Huggins was an Arts and Entertainment reporter for his high school newspaper and the Features Editor, senior year.

An honors student, Harry was also one of the coordinators of Fordham’s Emerging Leaders club last year and an Orientation Leader, positions that Harry stated also “fulfilled my love of leading others.”

Jasper Chang The Observer’s 2012 Recipient

A native of Staten Island, Jasper Chang received this year’s scholarship stipend to attend the ACP conference in Seattle. Also a junior at FCLC, Mr. Chang is an English major with a minor in Creative Writing and has been this year’s Assistant Sports Co-Editor of The Observer. Fluent in Cantonese, Mr. Chang is also an accomplished gymnast and has worked part time during college teaching gymnastics to young people.

In addition to writing for The Observer, Jasper has worked in NYC for FoodFan Inc. as a Social Media Intern where he photographed NYC restaurants’ food and drink items for upload on FoodFan’s social networks, wrote critical reviews on NYC’s cultural cuisines, assisted in maintenance and update of FoodFan’s Facebook page and managed and updated FoodFan’s Boston Twitter.

Currently the Editorial Intern at Marvel Entertainment in NYC, Jasper’s duties include reviewing and revising master scripts for grammatical errors, organization and coherent storylines.

With an interest in broadcast journalism, Jasper reported that his experience at the ACP Journalism Conference was “certainly worth remembering”.  According to Jason, “The sessions I attended were very informative and gave me a different perspective on how to produce news, create multimedia content, and write articles. I thank the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation for granting me this engaging and informative experience that has deepened my understanding of the world of journalism.”

Related Links:

Associated Collegiate Press

Fordham University’s Fordham College Lincoln Center (FCLC)

The Observer  (Student Newspaper of FCLC)

 

 

 

Foundation Sends Fordham Students to National College Newspaper Convention

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

 

L to R: Gabby Linzer, Rob Beatson, Casey Feldman, Craig Calefate, and Ashley WennersHerron at the convention in San Francisco, February 2008

As a result of a generous donation from the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, three students on the Fordham Observer staff  had the opportunity to attend the Associated Collegiate Press’ (ACP’s) 26th annual National College Journalism Convention in Phoenix, Arizona from  February 25 – 28, 2010. Stefanie Wheeler,  Assistant Online Editor, Anndrew Vacca, News Editor, and Liz Bowen, Opinions Co-Editor, were the recipients of the funds. They attended the conference  along with Assistant Features Editors Beata Cherapakhina and Faith Heaphy, whose  trips were funded  through the Observer.

The Associated Collegiate Press (ACP), is the oldest and largest national membership organizations for college student journalists with more than 20,000 students staffing ACP college member publications. This year’s four day convention in Phoenix consisted of idea-packed keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, displays and critiques  from some of the best journalists,  advisors and students in the country. It ended Sunday with the presentation of the Best of Show Awards.  This year, the Observer won second place for Best of Show for a four-year college, non-weekly newspaper, and first place in the multimedia package category.  Out of an entire nation of college newspapers – way to go Fordham Observer!

All of the students expressed their gratitude to the Foundation for the opportunity to attend the convention.  According to one of those students, Stephanie Wheeler, “I cannot begin to describe how inspirational, educational, and uplifting the Associated Collegiate Press Journalism Conference in Phoenix was this past weekend. I am so blessed and grateful….Without your help, I would not have been able to afford the expenses on my own. The trip was a reconfirmation that I am pursuing a career in a field that I feel extremely passionate about. I had the opportunity to learn from some of the most honorable and innovative professionals in the Journalism field and I have taken back with me a handful of learning tools that will be beneficial to me in my future endeavors as well as to others who I plan to share my newfound knowledge with….I will never forget everything I learned about journalism and myself….”

Casey with Gabby, being interviewed by another college newspaper. The interviewer becomes the interviewee!

Intent on pursuing a career in Journalism, Casey joined The Observer soon after arriving at Fordham University, getting her first news bylines as a freshman, becoming an assistant news editor as a sophomore and news editor as a junior. She was returning as news editor for her senior year at the time of her accident in July 2009. Casey was one of the students who was able to attend the ACP convention in San Francisco in February 2008 as a sophomore.

Ashley WennersHerron, currently Editor- in- Chief of the Observer, who attended the conference with Casey, recalled the group joking in San Francisco about the abundance of complimentary coffee. “It was like all of the students were competing to drink more coffee in order to be more ‘journalistic,'” Ashley said. In typical Casey fashion, she used her acting chops to expertly imitate a caffeinated reporter trying to conduct an interview.

According to Dianne Anderson, Casey’s mother, “I remember how honored and excited Casey was when she was told that she was chosen to attend the conference and what a rewarding experience it turned out to be for her. Casey was extremely proud of the fact The Observer won first place in “Best of Show” that year for a four-year college, non-weekly newspaper. She was really disappointed that she and all Observer staff members could not attend annually because of limited funding. We knew immediately when we established the Foundation that Casey would be so pleased if we could enable more students to benefit from attending this outstanding annual conference.”

Give other deserving young people opportunities and contribute to the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation . Go to the Memories site and read Casey’s articles published in the Fordham Observer. See more photographs from Casey’s 2008 San Francisco trip with the Observer.