Community Matters 2, Inc & Right Way 2 PK: Giving Everyone a Chance to Have a Chance

Hosted by: Aja Schmeltz & Micah

On this episode we welcome back Corene Concepcion-Rivera and L’Quette Taylor, founders of the Right Way 2 PK Project in Poughkeepsie, NY. Corene & L’Quette joined us back in January to introduce the Right Way 2 PK Project. Since then the project has been successfully launched.

Right Way 2 PK is an art revitalization mentorship program at Hulme Park in Poughkeepsie, NY. Dozens of volunteers have already participated in transforming their beloved community park with gorgeous murals. Corene & L’Quette also shared that there is a new element of this project that is in the works…a living mural. Artist, Rosemarie Miner, has joined the project and will be creating a living mural stocked with culinary and medicinal herbs for all in the community to enjoy!

Corene Concepcion-Rivera is a creative advocate for the arts, mother of two fantastic teenagers, three dogs and founder of Concepcion-Rivera, LLC, a unique consultant company shaping clients views on a variety of projects. 

As her role of business owner and founder of CRLLC, she has broadened her scope by directing O+ Positive in Poughkeepsie, NY, consulted for art galleries, coordinated art shows and fundraisers, and completed projects with the City of Poughkeepsie- a Hudson Valley city in the midst of a cultural and economic revitalization. Facilitating projects and bringing the vision of creatives and passionate organizations is what drives Corene. Her coordination on murals, events, and serving on boards for Poughkeepsie Farm Project, the rebranding board for Poughkeepsie, NY and recently, Creative Director for Community Matters 2, Inc, an impressive non-profit. Corene is also a graduate and fellow of the Good Work Institute.

L’Quette Taylor was born & raised in Poughkeepsie, NY. He is a proud graduate of the City of Poughkeepsie School District and is the Founder and President of Community Matters 2, Inc., a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to empowering community, creating programs that encourage youth to think in a more innovative manner and operate as a hub for those looking for resources. 

He believes everyone should have a chance to have a chance. One of his goals is to make sure every child gets that opportunity. His efforts to better his community have made him the recipient of several prestigious awards including the 2019 Community Builders Award, a 40 Under 40 Shaker and Mover award winner, recipient of the Dutchess County Frontline Award for services provided during the rise of the covid-19 pandemic.

Sam Wright: Seeing, Feeling & Touching Lasting Change

Hosted By Aja Schmeltz & Terri Hall

On this episode we are joined by Sam Wright from Catskill Mountainkeeper. Sam serves as their Program Associate, leading their HeatSmart campaign to transform New York’s energy landscape and assisting home and business owners to make energy efficiency improvements and transition to clean heating and cooling technologies.  He also lends his legal and programmatic expertise to Mountainkeeper’s campaign to oppose fossil fuel projects like pipelines and bomb trains.

We discuss the magic of the Catskills, alternative energy sources, successfully opposing fracking in NYS, development tracking databases and the Route 17 expansion boondoggle. Sam’s love for his place was immediately evident and when we asked what keeps him motivated, he said “seeing, feeling and touching lasting change” in my community. Click the link to listen to the full interview.

To get more information about the projects Sam is involved in, you can reach out to him directly at

Black Liberation Freedom Fellowship: Barry Mayo and Tyler Epps

The Black Liberation Freedom Fellowship was created by Rise Up Kingston to support cisgendered Black men in confronting hetero-patriarchy and racism, how it shows up in them and within our community in an effort to combat sexism, trans misogyny and anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes/actions. Barry Mayo and Tyler Epps talk with co-hosts Terri and Micah about their experience as BLFF fellows and how this work, which is grounded in the work of Black feminist writer bell hooks, continues to be a transformative force in their lives. 

Applications for the next Black Liberation Freedom Fellowship cohort will go live soon. For more info, you can contact Tyler (info below.)

After a successful 35-year career as a radio broadcasting programmer, manager, owner, and CEO, Barry Mayo is a photographer whose work has been exhibited in various galleries, predominantly in the Chicago area, including a group exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Barry has served on the boards of numerous educational institutions including serving as the Vice-Chair of the World of; an organization that teaches financial education and philanthropy to young people in the New York City metro area. Mayo also served for 12 years on the Board of Trustees of Columbia College Chicago. Currently, Mayo serves on the board of Kingston’s Reher Center and is the co-President of the Board at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. 

Tyler Epps works as Food Justice and Black Liberation Freedom Fellowship Coordinator for Rise Up Kingston. As a father of triplets, an artist, an athlete, a creator, and many things that are still being defined, Tyler is passionate about passion, community, and action. A lot of his focus is to be an active part of creating the reality that he wishes for his sons to live in.

Tyler Epps:

Rise Up Kingston:

Instagram: @blacklibfellowship

True Transformation Requires Inner Work with Eduardo González, Jr. and Maryellen Whittington-Couse

Hosted by Susan & Aja

The increased transparency of racialized police brutality and many other identity-based injustices is awakening – for some of us, Eduardo reminds us. Others of us have been living with these injustices as part of our daily reality. These times reveal that we often live in different worlds separated by systems of social domination. And because it’s so familiar, we’re good at operating in a domination paradigm. If we’re willing to bring our full selves and shine a light on who and how we are, and the toxicity we’ve inherited, can we create a liberatory process together? Yes, according to Eduardo and Maryellen after twenty years of working together. Starting with a common language, framework and understanding, they have facilitated dialogue that allows us to stick with each other in the midst of the discomfort of truth about the past and present and emerge with a deep understanding of our interconnectedness, a commitment to our individual and collective liberation, and strategies and skills to coalesce across our differences to overcome the status quo of domination and live into a vision of partnership. 

Websites: Developing a Social Equity Practice (GWI online retreat facilitated by Eduardo and Maryellen June 4-6, 2021); Opening Doors (updated website under development)

Eduardo González, Jr. (he/him/his) is an Afro-Boricua, middle-class, cisgender, heterosexual man and father of two young children currenly living in what is historically Lenape territory currently known as the Bronx. Mr. González is a Cornell Certified Diversity Professional/Advanced Practitioner with over 25 years of experience working with a wide variety of not-for-profit and educational institutions to implement and sustain multicultural organizational development initiatives. A key area of his focus is assisting staff, managers, administrators and their respective organizations in developing the awareness and skills needed to support and/or provide leadership in organizational change efforts on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He is the Cornell Cooperative Extension system-wide specialist for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and holds a Bachelor’s in Human Services and a Master’s in Public Administration from Pace University.

Maryellen Whittington-Couse (she/her) is a white, middle class, woman and mother who directs a regional Migrant Education Program at SUNY New Paltz that serves the children of migrant farmworkers. She has been part of the Opening Doors anti-oppression facilitation team since 2001 that provides training nationally and internationally. She provides consultation and training to educational, medical, human services and community organizations on issues related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She has a Master’s of International Administration from the School for International Training and is a Cornell Certified Diversity Professional.

The story behind the BLM mural co-created by 45 teen artists

Tonight we were joined by Mary Haddad, Jenine Tobias and Julie Okoniewski. Below is their bios and Mary’s artist statement, the creator of the mural. We spoke about today’s guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, and also the power of activism and art. Thank you to Mary and Jenine and for the wisdom and guidance of Generation Z.

Mary Haddad is an 18-year-old Arab-American artist, creator, student, and activist. She is a senior in high school attending the DCC Bridge Program full-time. Passionate about activism, Mary created and painted, with the help of her community, a Black Lives Matter Mural.

instagram @maryhaddadart

Jenine Tobias is an African American sophomore  at Oakwood Friends School who devotes her time in the upbringing and encouragement of her peers and those around her. Bringing world peace is at the top of her list but that can only start from changing the world around her.

instagram @jaetoviyah

Julie Okoniewski is Associate Director of Development and Alumni Affairs at Oakwood Friends School and served as a Good Work Institute fellow in 2017-18. She is also the founder of VOTE (Voices of Tomorrow Empowered) a free two-week residential program designed for Hudson Valley and New York City youth to learn about political advocacy through the arts.

Instagram @oakwoodfriends and facebook – oakwoodfriends

“Hierarchy is hard”: Shaniqua Bowden and Caroline Fenner reflect on the potential of shared leadership

Hosted by Susan & Micah

How do we sustain efforts for the earth, the land, our neighbors? Whether looking to align purpose and values, to decolonize and generate the kind of commitment needed to center the leadership of those most affected, to energize volunteers, or to strengthen ideas, sharing leadership and power is key. Rather than build on the foundations that created problems, building solutions grounded in new structures can make those solutions durable. Caroline and Shaniqua draw on their respective shared leadership journeys, offering responses for those who assume it is too hard, and sharing tips on easy first steps to take. 

Websites: For Earth Day, check out the work of and support their Spring Appeal; explore a flexible approach to shared leadership at; see what and are up to

Shaniqua Bowden, the Culture and Community Engagement Captain at the Kingston Land Trust, is a 7-year Kingston resident who first fell in love with green space as a kid in her hometown of South Boston, Virginia. She later moved to New York City where she studied communications and liberal arts at Empire State College. She’s a proud mom and active entrepreneur dedicated to ensuring Kingston is a well-rounded community and has come to KLT to assist in their mission of sharing public land access to all. Other community projects she’s worked on include Black History Month Kingston, My Kingston Kids and a weekly radio show called the Nubian Cafe.

Caroline Fenner is a middle school English teacher who, after 13 years of living and working in the New York City area, moved to Poughkeepsie in 2012 to have two children and live in the beautiful Hudson Valley.  In 2016, Caroline became involved in local activism and the progressive movement. She helped form the Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance in order to inspire and mobilize the people of Dutchess County towards sustained political activism in order to promote progressive agendas at all levels of government.

Vonda Brunsting: Hudson Valley Prosperity Network

Co-hosts Terri and Hélène talk money, finance, and investing with community and labor organizer Vonda Brunsting to this episode of the Good Work Hour. Locally, Vonda is working as steward for the Hudson Valley Prosperity Network, which is currently partnering with GWI on a Community of Practice. She also is a GWI Board Member.

Vonda lives in Beacon, and works with the Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Center for Public Leadership of the Harvard Kennedy School. In partnership with the Grantham Institute at LSE, she is launching a project on Investing in the Just Transition, which aims to build a clean energy economy that works for communities and working people. Previously, she was director of the Capital Stewardship Program Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Vonda served as a trustee on the SEIU Master Trust Pension Plan and on the board of the Council of Institutional Investors. Prior to joining SEIU‚ Vonda co-founded two community organizations devoted to leadership development and community change and worked on community finance initiatives at the University of New Hampshire and the Harvard Business School. She currently serves on the SRI and Investment Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Common Endowment Fund. She received her B.A. from Calvin College and holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

For more info on the Hudson Valley Prosperity Network, contact or

Jason Lord: Passionately Committed to Sharing Attainable Paths to Wellness

Hosted by Aja Schmeltz & Terri Hall

Jason Lord a Holistic Practitioner, Youth Mentor, and Educator who specializes in personalized Wellness Counseling and Guided Meditation. On this episode, Jason describes why his last visit to the region lasted 21 years, how he defines place and tugs at our heart strings as he explains why is so committed to providing attainable paths to wellness to BIPOC communities.