Terri Hall

Academy, Communications, General, Network, Operations Circles 

As a romantic who strives to be a realist, this is a  favorite quote of mine: “We’re trying to create a better world, not a perfect one. It cannot ever be perfect.” –  Kapil Sibal

Terri (she/her) is a black, cisgendered, working/middle class mother of two, living in Rhinebeck, NY (Sepasco land).Terri joined GWI after many years of working at Omega Institute, first as an independent contractor in their Development department, and later as the Omega Women’s Leadership Center’s Community Engagement Specialist.  A native of NYC, Terri has been a Hudson Valley resident for 17 years and brings to all she does a diverse background including the professional worlds of acting and modern dance (Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theater) and public television and radio (Thirteen/WNET, Children’s Television Workshop, Public Radio Management). Terri’s volunteer contributions usually are focused on K-12 students, and have included helping lead fundraising efforts for the local student cohort to the World Summit of Nobel Laureates in Bogota, serving on the Rhinebeck CSD’s Wellness Committee and on the board of CultureConnect, a Rhinebeck-based non-profit committed to preparing youth to interact with their local and global communities with intelligence, compassion, agency, and cultural competence. She’s a graduate of the University of Michigan. Special loves include musical theatre/developing young performing artists, experimenting in the kitchen, traveling, learning new things, and, ever and always, dancing.

Through her work at GWI, Terri focuses on relationship and community building, and contributing to greater shared understanding of the Just Transition framework throughout the Hudson (Mahicantuck) Valley.

Susan Grove

Academy, Alliance, Development, General, Operations Circles

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Used by Lilla Watson, Aboriginal Elder, and many other activists, these words guide my work.

Susan (she/her) is a white, working/middle class, cisgendered parent who strives to express callings and longings to facilitate learning, support collaboration, organize information, engage conflict, connect across difference, create lasting conditions for greater equity, and contribute toward justice in the Mahicantuck Valley. 

Susan has dedicated her working life decades to supporting diverse mission-driven organizations – anti-poverty, food system change, economic and rural development, holistic adult education and faith-based. Her work has involved participatory facilitation; strategic planning; program design, implementation and evaluation; resource development; financial management; and governance. She served for five years as the first Executive Director of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, coordinated the grassroots Poughkeepsie Plenty food justice initiative, and managed the cross-departmental community engagement strategy of the Omega Institute. Before moving to the Mahicantuck Valley in 2008, she worked in Romania, India, Ecuador, Cambodia, Laos, Kenya, Mali, the Philippines, Ethiopia and China as a consultant to Oxfam America, director of the US Office of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, and Peace Corps Volunteer. She holds a graduate degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Partner to Chris and parent to Sebastian, she involves herself in efforts focused on Poughkeepsie, including those focused on public history, storytelling, local politics, spirituality, and racial justice, and was awarded a Community Leadership Award from New Horizons Resources in 2019. She replenishes her reserves alone or with dear ones on trails in the woods, in backyard hammocks, over or along the river, reading, reflecting, and journaling.  

Micah

Academy, Development, Fiscal Sponsorship, General, Greenhouse, Network Circles

I am working on expanding my definition of self, in everything I do, and in all the ways I do it, so that when I act selfishly it will be for the betterment of the whole. 

Micah (he/him) is of mixed race (black and white) and mixed religion, and grew up in two different socio-economic homes. He is a cisgendered, working/middle class parent of two living on Munsee/Lenape land in the Mahicantuck Valley, commonly referred today as Kingston, NY, working to prove possibility and to liberate the imagination in order to see a Just Transition. He serves on the boards of Radio Kingston, Wild Earth, O+, and CCE as well as being a member of the Stewardship Circle of Rise Up Kingston. He also teaches mindfulness and is a workshop leader of TMI Project as well as host of Hip Hop 101 on Radio Kingston.

Hélène Lesterlin

General, Communications, Development Circles

I am a pragmatic optimist, a voracious reader, and a hope-filled instigator, working towards a vision of the future that is joyful, abundant, and equitable.

Hélène (she/her) is inspired in all she does by the values outlined by Italo Calvino at the end of his life: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency. She has deployed those qualities in a variety of roles – as artist, manager, curator, director, and founder – across the US, France and Taiwan. Currently she fosters connection, business development, social impact, and access to capital for community leaders, startups, entrepreneurs, activists and artists, to help build healthier economic and social ecosystems in the Hudson Valley. In addition to her role as Worker Trustee focused on organizational sustainability and communications at the Good Work Institute, she is a co-founder of CO, a co-working co-op and community center, and works as a mentor and coach to mission-led entrepreneurs and for startups. She is also on the board of Cooperatives for a Better World/Start.coop, in support of Start.coop an accelerator for cooperative startups, and volunteers her time with the Saugerties Democratic Committee and Middle Way School. To her work, she brings fifteen years experience as a producer, curator and interdisciplinary contemporary artist, devoted to nurturing creativity and experimentation in media, art, dance and theater. A dual citizen of France and the US, she is raising two daughters with her husband in the Catskills, grateful to be rooted in these mountains.

Caitlin Dourmashkin

Operations, Fiscal Sponsorship, Greenhouse, Learning and General Circles

As one of my favorite human beings, Zadie Smith, says “time is how you spend your love” and every day I choose to spend my time thinking of ways I can support the work of my colleagues, and therefore the work of this beloved, and important organization. 

Caitlin (she/her) brings a passion for process to everything she does at the Good Work Institute. One of the original employees of the organization, she has spent the last six years working to support each member of the team through compassionate, human-centered organizational design. 

After fifteen years spent developing programs for local economic development organizations, Caitlin has now found her calling supporting the work of others through her love of policy, strategy, design, and (surprisingly!) administration. She is the go-to on the team on issues of internal policy and operations design, and she also co-leads our fiscal sponsorship and shared leadership offerings. She is a great resource if you are curious about the operation of our Worker Self-Directed Nonprofit, but she is also just as happy to talk about dogs, parenting strategies for toddlers, skiing, and craft brewing in the Northeast.

Aja Schmeltz

Communications, Greenhouse, General, Operations, Network Circles

“It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.” – His Holiness The Dalai Lama.   I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and a friend. I am an artist, an activist, a musician, a hiker, a kayaker, a gardener, a music lover, a sports fanatic and a damn good cook. I am an agent of change, striving hard to be the change I want to see in the world.

Aja is an Afro-Latina, cisgendered, middle class woman raising 3 daughters with her partner of 20+ years, growing food and medicine, creating art, loving hard and strengthening connections in her beloved communities throughout the Mahicantuck (Hudson) River Valley. The Just Transition is central to her work, both personally and professionally, because she strongly believes that a successful community is made up of individuals working collaboratively on all fronts to create avenues to build a healthier, thriving, more sustainable environment. 

During her career, Aja has held a number of professional positions from Art Director to Distillery Consultant, and has spent more than twenty years volunteering throughout the Hudson Valley. While she enjoyed all of these jobs enormously, she knew there was something missing. Aja was yearning for a position that combined her commitment to social justice reform, community building, her absolute love for this region and her tribes, and her unique skill set. GWI has given her that opportunity to bring her values, drives, and talents together in her work. 

In addition to her roles at GWI, Aja sits on the board of The Hudson Valley Current, is a member of the Kingston Trust Hub Advisory Board, is a member of HUDSY’s Content Committee, is a member of the Hudson Valley Food Systems Coalition and is a thought-partner for many initiatives and organizations throughout the region.