After twelve years working as a private wealth advisor on Wall Street, in 2002 David miraculously extricated himself from this soul-deadening work and came home to New Paltz with his family to realize a life dream – fully sharing in the care and parenting of his three children and creating a small family farm. Over the years, the Brownstein family (Three Suns Farm) have raised dairy cows, goats, chickens, bees, and fruits and vegetables in season. In 2004 David co-founded Wild Earth, a local nonprofit with a vision toward regenerating a living community culture centered around nature connection. David served as its Executive Director for nearly 20 years until 2023. Today, David continues reaching toward his vision, now through his Root Connections (rootconnections.org) practice; he offers mentoring, coaching, and collaboration rooted in place-based, relationship-first and village-making work and life ways.
Allison attended Montserrat College of Art, where she found her love for Design and Illustration. Over the last 10 years, Allison’s various positions have prepared her with a firm, well-rounded knowledge of the branding and marketing world. In 2013, Allison left her position as Creative Director with the Royal Bank of Scotland to join the multi-use skincare company, LIMEGREEN. With LIMEGREEN, Allison had the amazing opportunity to utilize her branding knowledge and showcase her driven personality to develop a successful business. In recent years, Allison primarily lent her creativity to organizations focused on social impact, entertainment, politics, and the arts. Allison lives in Newburgh, NY, but remains strongly connected to her roots in Brooklyn, NY, and North Carolina.
Kate is Director of Development for the Bard Prison Initiative and has been with BPI since 2019. Prior to BPI, Kate worked as Capacity Building Advisor for the New York Council on Nonprofits and spent many years supporting community and national public radio and other story-telling endeavors. Kate completed a Masters in Social Work from Tulane University in 2017 and has 2 decades of experience across the non-profit sector- in philanthropy, capacity building, strategic planning, and project management.
Grace is committed to creating thriving places by ensuring the people who live in them have the power to design their own futures. Grace is the Director of Communications and Development at a Colorado-based nonprofit called Community Builders. Prior, she worked as the Communications and Community Engagement Specialist at the City of Aspen. Before moving to Colorado, Grace was the Community Engagement Manager at the Good Work Institute where she helped develop a network of over 150 local entrepreneurs, public servants, artists, nonprofit leaders and activists working to build a more equitable and regenerative region in the Hudson Valley. Grace is most inspired when working with communities to create a collective vision and plan to drive just and lasting change in their place.
In 2008, Nejla Liias founded Global Health Visions (GHV) to provide strategic guidance on the formulation and implementation of global health and development initiatives that aim to improve the lives and livelihoods of women and children. Prior to starting Global Health Visions, Nejla was an independent consultant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in its Global Health Policy and Advocacy division. Before her work in global health and development, Nejla spent five years as a public finance professional at the Wall Street firms of Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan. Nejla recognized a need in the industry to provide access to exceptional consultants who could provide guidance on a range of development issues for short and long term projects. With GHV, she built a team of consultants with a wealth of expertise, skilled in a variety of areas from advocacy and communications to proposal formulation and in-depth research and analysis. GHV partners with and serves NGOs, governments, foundations, development agencies, and the private sector.
Nejla holds a Master of Public Policy with a concentration in International Policy and Development from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy Institute, and a Bachelor of Science from Bates College.
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.
Native to Kingston, Erica believes that the strength of a community lies in the empowerment of its individuals. The Community Engagement Coordinator for Radio Kingston, Erica is passionate about working with nonprofits, focusing her energies on access, inclusion, and diversity. Erica is inspired by the development of interdisciplinary collaboration between local organizations serving as a Board member of the Kingston Farmers Market, committee member of Kingston Midtown Rising Connect, a member of the Ulster County Housing Advisory Committee, and an organizing member of the Kingston Community Land Trust.
Erica is twice a graduate of SUNY New Paltz, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business (2010) and in Psychology (2016).