Over the course of this intensive, several month program, fellows developed deep ties to one another and gained vital collaboration and initiative‐building skills while cultivating inner clarity about what it means to do good work.
Teams within the cohort learned by doing – inquiring into key questions and piloting projects related to the possibilities of a more equitable and regenerative economy.
Fellows returned to their places enriched by the opportunity to reflect on aligning their work and values and with embodied knowledge about how to collaborate to make change.
The relationships forged within the fellowship are now sustained through ongoing Good Work Network events and collaborations that link each cohort with the growing group of innovators and community leaders committed to a thriving future for the Hudson Valley.
Aja Hudson is the Founder and Executive Director of Earth Designs Cooperative (EDC) located in Rosendale, NY. EDC is a worker owned Cooperative that specializes in garden, meadow and landscape design, installation and management using sustainable and organic methods. Born and raised in Accord, NY, Aja comes from a family of farmers. She helped her grandfather, a horticulture teacher with a degree from Cornell University, grow gourmet fruits & vegetables for NYC restaurants. As a teenager Aja began her career in ornamental landscaping, working first for Garden Makers (based in Accord) before relocating to New Orleans to manage the bedding plants for a chain of nurseries called The Plant Gallery. Aja studied Landscape Design at the School of Horticulture at the NY Botanical Gardens and is proficient in DynaSCAPE (software program for landscape design). Aja’s role at EDC is centered in project and garden design, client relations and employee management.
Allison Lamb is the co-owner of Limegreen, a multi-use skincare company that produces completely natural products from vegan and organic ingredients. She prides herself for being: a problem-solver, resilient, a forward-thinker, analytical, but above all, compassionate and loving. Allison received a BFA with a concentration in Graphic Design from Montserrat College of Art in 2006. She has worked for the 92nd Street Y (92Y) as a graphic designer, and most recently left a Creative Director Position in 2013 to focus fully on her co-owned brand with her wife, Talima Davis.
Arif recently completed the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University, where he explored new approaches to civic engagement, received funding for a sustainability initiative, and won a ‘maker’ competition at MIT. Prior to that, he coordinated partnerships for the UN’s World Humanitarian Summit. He has managed millions of dollars of humanitarian aid, built temporary settlements, and implemented relief projects that supported hundreds of thousands of people affected by natural disasters and conflicts in Kenya, Syria, Indonesia, Somalia, Yemen, Chad, Pakistan, Lebanon, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. In the US, he managed initiatives to improve disaster resilience, promote urban bicycling, increase urban green space, and build social capital. He has planned and designed hundreds of miles of bikeways. He founded Depave, a non-profit that works with communities to transform parking lots into gardens. He also spearheaded the development of the first food garden on international territory, at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Charlie Graham’s main focus is to empower and inspire; to contribute to a better world for creators and help good people achieve great things. As a creator himself, he has played many roles from an award-winning music producer and designer, to published photographer. His unique perspective on the world comes from having backpacked and lived throughout parts of Asia, Europe, Canada, the US and South America; immersing in the culture and learning from the people. Currently, Charlie is the founder of Volum8 Creative Inc., an experience design company and epic team of storytellers, strategists, designers and web developers. He is a passionate presenter and public speaker guiding community banks, credit unions, non-profits and educational institutions through technology, while balancing the importance of people, culture and experience. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Partnership, a local not-for-profit focused on economic development.
Throughout my personal life, academic years and professional career, I was always interested in practicing a healthy life style and wellness movements, wholesome foods in particularly, its origin and journey, from seed to plate. After years of business development for all natural bakery manufacture in NYC, I moved to the Hudson Valley with the intention to open my own enterprise that will be celebrating local farmlands and its people- farmer’s and artisan’s products store, restaurant and community educational center. I feel extremely lucky to join this extraordinary fellowship at the point where I am about to launch my enterprise. Meeting the rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency are essential to me.
Feza Oktay is a Poughkeepsie native who left the area to attend college, grad school and start a family, and then moved back here with his family nine years ago. He started the social enterprise North River Roasters in 2015 after inspiration to get into the coffee roasting business from his daughter working as a barista, combined with his volunteer work with Hudson River Housing’s Middle Main initiative and its revitalization of the historic Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. When not roasting coffee Feza still does consulting work with not-for-profit organizations helping them with technology and financial management challenges. While he holds no degrees in coffee roasting just yet, other than a honorary one in Happy Caffeinated Customers, he has a BA in Computer Science and an MBA with a concentration in Public and Not-for-Profit Management. He also enjoys photography and even worked as a wedding photographer for a while.
Originally from El Salvador, Hugo Jule–Quintanilla is an experienced promoter of clean energy programs in the Hudson Valley. His background includes Mechanical and Automotive Engineering with additional training in energy management and Passive House. He has worked for nearly a decade in sustainability and clean energy, including working as an installer of solar electric and solar thermal systems. Currently, Hugo works at RUPCO as an Outreach Coordinator promoting the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program. Hugo is also part of the “Drive Electric Hudson Valley” campaign led by Sustainable Hudson Valley where he educates consumers about the benefits of driving electric vehicles and the infrastructure available in the Hudson Valley. Hugo is also a BPI Certified Building Analyst and enjoys doing presentations in English and Spanish about energy efficiency. He enjoys hiking, running, biking and supporting the Ulster County SPCA. He lives in Woodstock and loves the Hudson Valley.
Jenn is the Director of Programs at The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm, located in Kinderhook, NY. The mission of The Sylvia Center (TSC) is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn began working at her parents’ restaurant at the age of 10 and has never known a time when food was not at the center of her life. As a child of immigrants, she has been deeply influenced by the role food plays in teaching values and culture. She has over a decade of experience working in the food world in diverse capacities: in restaurants, film catering, startups and culinary education. Jenn is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where she received her BA in Film Studies in 2010 and holds an MA in Food Studies from NYU.
Jennifer Schwartz Berky is an urban planner over 30 years of experience in the revitalization of historic cities. She was the Deputy Director of Planning for Ulster County (2004-2012), where she led open space protection and economic development intiatives. She founded Hone Strategic LLC in 2012 as an advisor for many community-driven initiatives and is an ardent supporter of citizen engagement in planning. Prior to moving to the Hudson Valley, Jennifer was a design and construction manager for New York City’s largest cultural institutions. She was also a consultant to the World Bank for a global study on cultural heritage and its community-driven development program in Eastern Europe. Jennifer studied architecture at Pratt Institute, urban planning and real estate development at Columbia University, and historic preservation in Rome, Italy. She is also serving her first term as an Ulster County Legislator for her adopted home of Kingston, New York.
Jesse was born at home and raised in the beautiful Hudson Valley. After graduating from college, he headed west and landed in Jackson Hole, WY. Jesse Co-Founded the Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine and ran it for 7 years. Jesse then headed back east to further his storytelling desires and lived in NYC for 4 years working in different aspects of the TV & Film Industry. While in NYC, Jesse founded his own production company, Digi Ranch, to be an expressive vehicle for his passion of using storytelling to make a difference. Missing his roots and a deeper connection to nature, he made the move back to the Hudson Valley 6 months ago and couldn’t be happier. Since returning, Jesse is the Co-Producer of The ELEE Series, which is a local lecture series focused on community education and inspiring each other.
Joel is the founder of Quinta Essentia Alchemy, the only farm distilling consultancy. He was the Chief Distiller at Tuthilltown Spirits for 7 years where he led all phases of production and R&D as well as overseeing the transition of their Hudson Whiskey line to William Grant & Sons. He was selected to be a part of the Glynwood Apple Exchange and has been heavily involved in craft spirits and cider legislative efforts at the national and state levels, working closely with Governor Cuomo’s office, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Local Economies Project among others. He regularly speaks for the American Distilling Institute, NOFA-NY and a host of others. He is a member of the National Association of Cider Makers as well as La Commanderie Percheronne des Gouste Cidre and is a board member of the Rosendale Theater Collective. Above all, Joel considers agriculture his first occupation and primary commitment.
Johnny is the managing partner of the Hudson Valley Startup Fund, a member managed seed capital fund launched in 2015. HVSF has committed over $250K in two investments and continues to identify local scalable companies ready for investment. Johnny is also the co-founding co-Owner of CLUBWAKA, a nationwide social sports club serving 50,000+ customers annually in over 40 cities across the U.S. Since its launch in 1998 as The World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA), Johnny has lead the development of technology platforms, nationwide franchising programs, logistics and digital marketing programs and partnerships with global brands. Johnny’s early career spanned a decade in technical and management roles at America Online, Inc (AOL), and other software companies. Johnny holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, is the VP of the Rhinebeck Science Foundation, and lives in Rhinebeck with his wife, his three school aged children.
Originally from the mountains of western North Carolina, Jordan graduated with a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University before completing a Master’s of Divinity at Yale. Presently, Jordan is employed as the Associate Pastor and Director of Outreach at Saint James United Methodist Church in Kingston. She is a board member of the non-profit Kingston Midtown Rising, Inc., a citizen’s group in Midtown Kingston that works to build relationships across ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic boundaries while addressing pressing social needs in the community. She has had the privilege of participating in several cross-cultural exchanges in Latin America and most recently traveled to Zimbabwe, where her congregation worked with local village members to open a waiting shelter for expecting women in a rural community. Most recently, Jordan was honored by the Ulster YWCA’s Tribute to Women as the Human Rights Advocate of the Year.
Julian Lesser is the director of sales and product development at Luminary Media, a full-service marketing agency and founders of Chronogram and Upstater. He lives and works in Kingston, NY, where he builds relationships and strong partnerships with local Hudson Valley organizations and businesses, aiming to improve the economic and social sustainability of the Hudson Valley and NYC area. He is a painter, serial entrepreneur, master composter, and environmental advocate with a passionate for real estate, travel, and adventure.
Kevin Irby (Kirby) is a Texas native currently living in New York City. Kirby is an Investment Associate at Armonia LLC, a private equity and venture capital firm focused on scaling environmental restoration efforts through regenerative agriculture. Prior to Armonia, he worked with C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S., where he gained experience as a supply chain strategist in the food system. He is also an active conservation biologist and previously worked with The Nature Conservancy on Martha’s Vineyard. Before his environmental career, Kirby worked in contemporary art and translation in France, and as a photographer in Spain. Kirby received his BA in Conservation Biology from Middleburg College in Vermont, with additional coursework at Sciences Po Bordeaux, after attending The United World College of the Atlantic in St. Donat’s, Wales. He enjoys trail running, hiking, yoga and meditation, reading, analogue photography, and irony.
A former professional dancer and choreographer, Kyralesa believes passionately in the ability of movement to heal bodies and minds. As Director of Movement Research at Parkinzone, she created a movement and dance based program for people living with Parkinson’s Disease, their families and caregivers. Her work has been reviewed and discussed in the Village Voice, PAJ Journal, and the New York Times among others. After living in Seville, London, Rome and New York City, she now lives in Hudson and finds it an exciting and vibrant place to call home. As owner of River Pilates she is developing an outreach program to service the Hudson Valley in a cost-effective and economical way, focusing especially on its under-serviced areas.
Maryellen co-owns Free Bird Farm, a certified organic vegetable farm in the Mohawk Valley, about 50 miles northwest of Albany. She and her husband provide high-quality farm shares to area residents as well as to New York City. They collaborate with regional farms in order to offer a variety of products, such as meadow butter, orchard fruit, pastured poultry and organic beef, to farm shareholders. They are long-time participants in the Kingston Farmers’ Market. Maryellen has a professional background in journalism, has worked as an editor for two national food magazines and has been working on a master’s degree in Business Management.
Melzina Canigan is a young, goal oriented resident of the city of Newburgh. Dedicating her time and efforts in the city of Newburgh, she is what some would say “Loca about local.” She is soon opening a business where she resides called Newburgh Skate Lounge. This will be local a café/sandwich shop where you can also buy all of the skateboard essentials. Melzina is currently employed by the City Land Bank under AmeriCorps LISC, she is also employed at 2 Alices Coffee Lounge located in the City of Newburgh. She recently completed a WEDC business class and plans to continue her education.
Molly Crist is the co-founder and owner of Onward Travel, a boutique tour operator based in Walden, NY and Philadelphia, PA. The company partners with a growing, selective list of businesses, organizations, and industry associations to offer interest-specific guided tours to their clientele. Culinary tours are a specialty and they also focus on tours for the fruit tree industry. Before starting Onward Travel in 2013, Molly worked as an innkeeper, owned and operated a food truck in Michigan, coordinated leasing for the innovative Downtown Market Grand Rapids, taught cooking classes, and wrote for a variety of Michigan-based publications. Molly holds a degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University and lives in the Hudson Valley, where her husband, Joel, is a fifth-generation farmer at Crist Bros. Orchards.
Activist,Optimist & Artrepreneur who makes tools, projects and products to help create a brighter reality through collaboration with communities, companies and creatives.
A wife, mother of three, executive administrator, teacher, author, community leader, licensed mental health counselor, and Gallup certified strengths coach with nearly 30 years of diverse, progressively responsible experience in a wide variety of settings within the field of Higher Education. My work is characterized by the creation of innovative programs and learning experiences that exceed metrics while also helping others realize how to maximize their unique talents and potential within the scope of the common ground we share. My “Top Five” are: WOO, Communication, Positivity, Connectedness, and Strategic. Some say “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink,” but I use my top five to say, it’s my job to make the horses thirsty.
I’m a late bloomer and didn’t do much for the first 36 years of my life. However, in the past two decades or so I managed to earn a few degrees, created and sold two successful businesses, worked with legendary people, contributed to a half dozen books and was featured in forty-four regional and national publications. Today I am doing only what I love to do. I’m a freelance entrepreneur making my living inspiring, educating and mentoring small business owners and developing products for simple everyday living and working. I know. I can’t believe it either!
Strategist, publicist, marketer, social entrepreneur, nonprofit leader. Scott has 20+ years of experience in various culture-shaping (and sometimes suffocating) worlds — advertising, media, interactive design, photography, technology, television, fashion… and social impact. Some years ago, catalyzed by 9/11 and a spiritual and social awakening, he broke the trance of a cynical consumer culture and started applying his corporate-honed skills to social impact. He has an insatiable interest in transforming failed systems, in big ideas and the behaviors that drive people, what resonates with them, and how to engage them. He managed media for the 2003 NY visit of the Dalai Lama, then founded Antidote Collective in 2004. He’s since worked with dozens of innovative nonprofits, foundations, social entrepreneurs and thinkers at the intersection of progressive issues, media, conscious business and big ideas. He also founded BEAHIVE, Re>Think Local, Social Venture Institute / Hudson Valley and was a producer of TEDxLongDock.
Suzanne Stevens is the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Mid-Hudson Workshop (MHW), a non-profit dedicated to providing meaningful work for physically and medically disabled Veterans and others. She cultivates relationships with companies in the Hudson Valley and beyond to bring work in the form of ecommerce, assembly, food co-packing and more to MHW. Prior to joining MHW, Suzanne worked in a variety of industries including magazine distribution, wholesale diamond jewelry and real estate sales. Suzanne is a lifelong Hudson Valley resident and her long-time commitment to community service includes music ministry, Rhinebeck’s Sinterklaas, Rhinebeck Arts & Cultural Committee and Past President of Kiwanis Club of Poughkeepsie. She currently resides in Staatsburg with her husband Tom and their 2 dogs.
Vibha dreams of a world where she cooks for her friends everyday, creates miniature dolls using paper, and drinks endless cups of masala chai while listening to stories of people’s generosity of spirit and energy. She lives by the mantra “You are therefore I am,” convinced that her existence is a giant tapestry of people, relationships, and shared journeys. She is a “Jill of all trades” who loves to build things. Over 8+ years, Vibha has helped startups with program design, operations, and account management. Most recently, Vibha was at NYC-based social enterprise Catchafire, consulting for nonprofit & social organizations. Now she is helping build a multi-faceted coaching company at MindKind Institute. Vibha received her MBA in Operations and Entrepreneurship from The College of William & Mary and a Bachelor of Management Studies from University of Mumbai. She also trained as a Yoga instructor and Jewelry Designer.
Will Soter is a NYS Licensed Guide, and the Co-founder of Upstate Adventure Guides. He enjoys sharing his love and knowledge of the outdoors both. Will holds certifications in CPR & Wilderness First Aid, and has completed the Master Educator training for Leave No Trace. Will works to open opportunities for others to enjoy safe and memorable adventures in the outdoors, and he has founded the Catskill Adventure Tourism Summit, and The NY Outdoor Expo. Will serves on the Board of Directors for the Catskill Mountain Club, as well as the New York Outdoor Guide Association (NYSOGA). He is employed by the NY/NJ Trail Conference, managing the Catskill Conservation Corp, which provides recruitment and training services for various volunteer stewardship organizations in the Catskill region. Through all of his work, Will strives to help visitors find a deep and meaningful connection to nature.
Zach Feuer has owned and operated various art galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and Hudson NY and has been integral to the promotion and development of the careers of many contemporary artists. He is a co-founder of the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), a non-profit association of young art galleries designed to promote non-adversarial ways for gallerists to do business. In 2016, in collaboration with students with special needs, Zach started the Triform Bike Shop in a local Camphill Camphill Community. He lives in Hudson NY, with his wife and 2 kids.