Hope Reichbach was born in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn on July 24, 1988. She was born into a politically active family. Her father, Hon. Gustin L. Reichbach, was a prominent defense attorney who, in 1999, was elected to the Kings County Civil Court and, in 1998, to Kings County Supreme Court. Her mother, Ellen Meyers, who was a co-founder and Senior Vice President of Teachers Network, has a long history of advocating on behalf of teachers and public schools. From a young age, Hope was involved in politics and progressive issues.
Hope went to elementary school at Brooklyn Friends and always displayed pride in her Brooklyn roots. She spent her summers at Camp Thoreau and took up many hobbies such as boxing, softball, and guitar, but never singing. Hope attended Hunter College High School, where she quickly became a school leader and beloved personality. She was the Captain of the Debate team, Captain of the Softball team, and President of the Athletic Association. Beyond any titles, she was a natural leader. Hope was small in stature but was fiercely opinionated and vocal with her thoughts. In her senior year, she teamed up with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) to sue then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his illegal military recruitment tactics. Hope was a serious and dedicated student and extremely outgoing, with adoring friends from many social circles. By the time she graduated Hunter, she was widely admired by students, teachers, and faculty.
Hope started at Wesleyan University in the fall of 2006 and transferred to New York University the following year. She spent semesters in London and Buenos Aires and still managed to graduate a semester early with Honors. Hope spoke fluent Spanish and made any excuse to use it. Throughout her college career, Hope benefited from a combination of tenacity and an established network of friends and colleagues. Hope interned every summer and during school year, working for the New York Daily News, Tribeca Global Management, Euro RSCG Worldwide, and McCann Erickson. In her senior year, Hope was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Steve Levin’s campaign for City Council. When Levin won that seat, he made Hope his Communications Director, and she quickly became a vital member of his staff. On top of all this, she also took weekly boxing lessons at Gleason’s Gym for over 10 years, a testament to her ferocity. The same passion and determination that Hope had employed during her years in high school and college shined through in her burgeoning political career.
At the age of 22, Hope ran for Female District Leader for the 52nd Assembly District, an area that comprises DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Downtown Brooklyn, and Park Slope. Though she was running against the incumbent, she won endorsements from Marty Markowitz, Vito Lopez, and Jean Kennedy Smith. Hope was sincere in her interest in political organizing and Brooklyn issues, and her friends readily joined the ranks in supporting her, hitting the pavement alongside her as the campaign heated up. She went door to door, personally meeting constituents and listening to their concerns. Everyone who met her remarked not only on her political savvy, but also her maturity and kindness. Given how much she had dedicated herself to the campaign, losing was a disappointment to Hope. However, she garnered over 2600 votes and was recognized as a rising star in Brooklyn politics—not bad for a 22 year-old. Hope was ardent in her declaration that she would run next term, and there’s no doubt that she would have won.
To the devastation of her friends and family, Hope died on April 28, 2011, at the age of 22. One thousand people attended her funeral, a group that included friends, family, political notables, and community members. We have joined together to create the Hope Reichbach Memorial Fund to in some small way honor Hope’s big memory.
Below, a poem for Hope by David Lawrence Queens Ledger.
Everyone at the gym is telling me that they are sorry that Hope is dead.
They are paying their respects to me as if I am the father.
I know her father.
I am only her trainer.
I am just another tourist in the country of friends’ tombstones.
John Douglas wishes that Hope ducked like he taught her when
Death entered the ring.
Lennox Blackmoore asks me, “Is that little girl of yours dead?”
Hector Roca, who trained me and world champions,
Says, “It’s so sad. She’s like family.”
Bruce Silverglade says that she was part of Gleason’s Gym,
A piece of its history.
She came here at twelve,
One of the early surge of female boxers.
I thought she was too proper to train with me,
Too well-brought up,
Somehow too mature for her age.
She kept coming back for ten years between charity trips
Like the gym had something to offer her,
Some underbelly of life that she wanted to understand
Like a shark stalking dolphins.
You are not one of the world champions who trained here.
You were just another girl who made it seem like the world
Was not such a lost, dangerous place
And that grace could flit like Tinker Bell above the croc,
The uppercuts and Captain Hooks in Neverland.