Staff

The Ashokan Center’s professional teaching staff brings specialized expertise and skill to the areas of environmental education, science, research and the arts.  Our facilities and administrative staff support the programs and initiatives of The Ashokan Center ensuring that our students, guests and visitors enjoy a safe, rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Jay UngarPresident & CEO

Peter CookManaging Director | 845-657-8333, x. 24
Heidi Weber, Director of Development | 845-657-8333, x.15
Amy Sirni, Financial Officer | 845-657-8333, x. 11

Lisa Hurley, Special Events Coordinator | 845-657-8333, x. 10
William Warnes, Executive Chef | 845-657-8333, x. 19
Jon Winans, Facilities Supervisor
Kevin VanKleeck, Caretaker | 845-240-8050

Lynn James, RN
Bill Brantmeyer, Paramedic

Nichole Forney, Housekeeping Supervisor
Heather Noon, Housekeeper

Rachel Roozen, Program Director 845-657-8333, x. 14
Ally Britton, Program Development Manager
Matthew Viera, Program Operations Manager

Instructors:

Kate Rhodes, Lead Instructor
Peter Myers, Lead Instructor
Jessica Alba
Lily Armstrong-Davies
Kelley Brennan
Adam Lavender
Steve Malueg
Matt Wilson


Jay Ungar, President & CEO
Email
In 1980 Jay and his wife Molly Mason and musical partner founded Ashokan Music & Dance Camps at the then Ashokan Field Campus of SUNY New Paltz. Inspired by the camps, Jay wrote Ashokan Farewell in 1982. Taken by this haunting melody filmmaker Ken Burns invited Jay and Molly to provide music for many of his PBS specials, most notably The Civil War, in which Ashokan Farewell became the main theme, won a Grammy and earned Jay an Emmy nomination. When the State University put the Field Campus on the market in 2006. Jay and Molly formed the Ashokan Foundation to save the land and the programs. With help from the Open Space Institute, NYC Dept of Environmental Protection, the Catskill Watershed Corporation, and many individual supporters, the Ashokan Foundation took possession of the property in 2008, renamed it The Ashokan Center and by 2013 had constructed a new, sustainably designed residential learning facility on the site.

 


Peter Cook, Managing Director
845-657-8333, x. 24
Email
Peter was born and raised in the Catskill Mountains/Hudson Valley area. He received a BA in History from Hartwick College. After serving as Director of Technology for a Boston-based law firm, he attended UMass Boston and obtained a Masters in Secondary Education and taught History in the Boston Public School system. In 2011, he returned to the area and worked with at-risk adolescents at Family of Woodstock. Peter has been the Volunteer Coordinator for the winter and summer Hoots since 2013. In the fall of 2015, Peter joined the staff at The Ashokan Center where he is able to bring together his love of music, the environment and history.

 


Heidi Weber, Director of Development
845-657-8333, x.15
Email
Heidi brings 35+ years of development experience to Ashokan. A graduate of Dartmouth College (AB, philosophy), she began her career at Brandeis University and later relocated to New York City, where she worked at Columbia University, The New York Public Library, the Guggenheim Museum, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, among others.  Heidi has fond childhood memories of crossing the United States in a sky blue VW camper and attending day and residential camps as a Girl Scout.  She enjoys long hikes in the woods, long chats with donors and friends, and outdoor romps with her wild cat, Fleur.  Heidi makes her home in Ridgefield, CT.

 

 

 


lh1webLisa Hurley, Special Events Coordinator
845-657-8333, x. 10
Email
Raised in a military family, Lisa was born in Frankfurt, West Germany, and has lived in Virginia, New Jersey and Kansas before finally settling in New Hampshire while in high school. She briefly studied Business Administration at the University of New Hampshire and Accounting at New Hampshire College before marrying and starting her family. Lisa and her husband relocated to the Hudson Valley in 1992, where they have raised their four children. After an 18-year career in retail, she joined the staff at The Ashokan Center in June 2016.

 

 

 


Bill Brantmeyer, Paramedic
Bill is a school teacher, a paramedic, a wilderness skills instructor, and certified instructor of numerous medical certificate courses including Basic First Aid; CPR/AED; Wilderness First Aid; Bloodborne Pathogens; Emergency Oxygen Admin; Child/ Babysitting Safety and Pediatrics; Advanced Cardiac Life Support; Pediatric Advanced Life Support; Emergency Medical Response; Advanced First Aid; CPR Pro; Wilderness First Responder; Wilderness EMT Upgrade.

 


Rachel RoozenRachel Roozen, Program Director

845-657-8333, x. 14
Rachel grew up in Maryland, right outside of our nations capital. Her father owned a garden center so her love for nature started at a very early age. She attended Lynchburg College, in the foothills of the Blueridge Mountains of Virginia, where she studied Environmental Science. After graduation Rachel began her work in the environmental Education field, working here in New York as well as down in the Georgia mountains. Rachel then spent two years working at a nature-based preschool in Northern Virginia. She has been part of the Ashokan team for the past four seasons and is excited to start another! Rachel loves spending time in the forest and is excited to help connect students with the great outdoors!

 

 


Ally Britton

Ally Britton, Program Development Manager
Ally was born and raised in New Jersey. She studied Ecology and Natural Resources at Rutgers University, and was inspired to work in Environmental Education upon graduation. She has worked at several different environmental education centers around the country, and has been with The Ashokan Center for the past 2 years! Ally loves leading kids into the woods, catching frogs and other critters, and showing students what our natural world as to offer.

 

 


Matty VieraMatthew Viera, Program Operations Manager

Born and raised in the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Matty didn’t have many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors during his childhood. Camping trips with family and friends sparked a love for wilderness adventure and exploration. In his late teens, he began his career in outdoor education, working at a wilderness school in Connecticut guiding student groups in backcountry expeditions and leading them through high ropes and team development courses. For the past decade, he has continued to work in the outdoor education field at a number of camps and centers in various capacities. Arriving at The Ashokan Center in 2011 as an Instructor, he is now the Program Operations Manager. Matty lives on the Ashokan campus and enjoys being in the heart of the Catskill mountains.


kate-rhodesKate Rhodes, Lead Instructor
Kate grew up in Michigan and earned a B.A. in Arts & Humanities with specializations in Natural Resource Recreation and Museum Studies from Michigan State University. Her love for outdoor education began as a teenager with her first job as a summer camp counselor. As a student she continued to be engaged with children in paid and volunteer positions at public schools, museums and camps. Kate has worked as an outdoor and science educator since 2014 and, after spending the past year and a half in Southern California, she is excited for fall colors and lots of fun at the Ashokan Center.


Peter Myers, Lead Instructor
Peter was born and raised in the Hudson Valley. He studied cinema and photography (specializing in stop- motion animation) at SUNY Oswego, earning a bachelors degree in 2015. In addition, he studied blacksmithing and iron casting during an artist residence at Salem Art Works and most recently taught as the blacksmith specialist for Camp Pok-O-MacCreedy for Boys and Girls.


Jessica Alba, Instructor
Originally from downstate New York, Jessica grew up in Westchester County. She spent most of her time exploring the natural world- a hobby she still enjoys today. While working towards a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Religious Studies at Pace University, Jessica worked as a summer camp counselor at the Rye Nature Center, where she got to experience teaching in an outdoor setting for the first time. After graduation, she moved north to intern as an educator and conservationist at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park near Saratoga Springs. She’s now starting her first year at the Ashokan Center as an instructor and is excited to continue to share her love of the outdoors with others.


Adam Lavender, Instructor
My name is Adam Lavender and I am a SUNY Cortland graduate with a degree in Outdoor Recreation. Most of my teaching experience comes from trips I have guided and taught on, in the White mountains, the Adirondacks and the deserts of California. I love to learn about the flora and fauna of each region I teach in. For leisure I travel the world to find the best snow to shred and gnarly rocks to climb. I believe that patient and understanding can lead to a unified world.

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”–Eleanor Roosevelt.


Kelley Brennan, Instructor
Kelley is from Plymouth, MA where she learned a love for history from her hometown streets. She studied Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After graduation her love for being outside and getting kids outside was inspired when she started working at a Girl Scout camp on Cape Cod. Since then she has enjoyed working with young people of different ages at camp, before and after school, teaching English in South Korea, and working as an instructor at an outdoor science school in Southern California. She loves getting kids excited and learning about the world around them and is looking forward to instructing at Ashokan where she can nerd out with students about local history and the environment, which are two of her favorite things.


Steve Malueg, Instructor
Born in Northwest Ohio in 1992, Steven spent his youth running around the woods and playing with animals. During his college years he spent time on various research projects while getting his bachelor’s degree in Marine, Freshwater, and Environmental Biology. Finding a passion for teaching during that time has led to him working in the outdoor education field for the past 3 years. When not teaching Steven spends his time bird watching, hiking, and reading.


Matt Wilson, Instructor
Matt Wilson was born and raised in the beautiful state of Northern New Jersey. Yes, that is different than the rest of New Jersey. Growing up, he lived across the street from a nature preserve where him and his friends would play for hours, thus beginning his life long love of the outdoors. He studied music and social work at Ramapo College of New Jersey and went on get his master’s degree in social work at Hunter College in New York City. After graduating, Matt moved out to Oregon to work at a wilderness therapy program with adolescents and young adults. He has also worked with children in a variety of educational settings including a therapeutic middle school, a special education classroom, an urban farm camp and a outdoor experiential education center.

The Ashokan Center
477 Beaverkill Rd.
Olivebridge, NY 12461
info@ashokancenter.org
845-657-8333

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