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Staff Directory


Aaron Gingrich
Outdoor Educator

Alexander Cherry
Outdoor Education

Alex is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a B.S in Environmental Conservation & Sustainability. He enjoys backpacking, studying plants, and birdwatching. During the summer, Alex works as a Summit Steward protecting the rare alpine plant species in the Adirondacks. Working with all the other educators at the Ashokan center Alex hopes that through education he can inspire the next generation of stewards.
Alexis Perry
Events Coordinator
(845) 657-8333 x29

Alexis Perry loves hiking and the outdoors. After studying Public Administration at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY she has had many different types of careers throughout the years. When she is not at work, she enjoys exploring and traveling around the U.S; and spending time in her garden.
Angela Urbina-Medina
Education Administrator
(845) 657-8333 x27

In 1997, Angela made her first trip to the Ashokan Center as a teacher, accompanying 6th-grade students from Monhagen Middle School in the Middletown City School District. For most kids, it was their first time away from home, let alone for four nights with their teachers. The trip always left an indelible memory for the students and the staff who had the opportunity to accompany them. For many students, visiting the Ashokan Center was both a grade-level rite of passage and a multi-generational legacy trip for their families, with entire families sharing experiences such as crossing the wiggly bridge, weighing their food waste, or making a fire poker. What isn't explicitly communicated in these tales, but is woven through them, is the sense of empowerment, community, and connectivity felt by those fortunate enough to experience this very special place. This past June, Angela joined the Ashokan Center after concluding a 27-year career in education, with her last two years as a school superintendent. She takes pride in collaborating with schools to create experiences for their students and intends to continue collaborating to remove barriers to access, ensuring that opportunities for fostering community and inspiration in nature are plentiful. Angela looks forward to collaborating with you.
Anthony Pellegrino
Publicist & Marketing Manager
(845) 657-8333 x31

Born and raised in New York's Hudson Valley, Anthony brings a diverse background in non-profit management, arts marketing, and public relations to the Ashokan Center. In his spare time, you'll find Anthony outside hiking, learning a new instrument, or spending with his family and husky, Orion.
Bill Brantmeyer
Health & Safety Director
(845) 657-8333 x21

Bill is a school teacher, a paramedic, a wilderness skills instructor, and certified instructor of numerous medical certificate courses. He coordinates with school personnel before and during Ashokan School Field trips to help ensure students’ well-being and safety on campus.
Bill Warnes
Executive Chef
(845) 657-8333 x18

Bill Warnes was always interested in eating different types of cuisine, so naturally, cooking was the next step. He attended Boces in high school and then Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. After returning home to Long Island and working in local restaurants, Bill moved to the Hudson Valley, started a family, and continued to work in local restaurants. After deciding it was time to open his own place, he spent over 10 years feeding people in Phoenicia, NY, and Kingston, NY. Bill decided he needed to spend more time with his two amazing sons, and once again was cheffing in local places. Upon discovering the Ashokan Center and the amazing people it attracted, as well as the beautiful scenery, Bill felt he found his home. You will find him there in the kitchen, cooking for and talking to all the wonderful people who also enjoy the Ashokan Center.
Caroline Bailey
Community Engagement Coordinator
(845) 657-8333 x33

Caroline Bailey grew up in Kingston, New York and is passionate about outreach and community engagement. Caroline has a BS in both Biology and Art from Skidmore College, and an MBA in Sustainability from Bard College. Caroline is driven by her belief that nature should be accessible to all, and enjoys planning inclusive experiences and helping people connect around nature and art, and community-building. She is an avid birder and worked for the National Audubon Society before joining the Ashokan Center team. She also has published research on Tooth-billed Bowerbirds that she researched in Australia.
Chris Zavras
Outdoor Educator

Chris has a deep appreciation for the natural world and takes pride in his ability to inspire young minds to foster an enduring connection with it. Chris has experience teaching in a variety of outdoor settings and specializes in wildlife and ecosystem sciences.
Clara Tyrel
Outdoor Educator

Clara is a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, with a Bachelors of Science in Conservation Biology focus in Environmental Education. She began teaching as a camp counselor early on, where she discovered her passion for education and connecting people to the outdoors. In the future she looks to complete a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology to become a Nature Therapist.
Colleen Bailey

Colleen grew up in the Schoharie Valley. She has a love for the outdoors, animals and children her entire life. She was a member of the Adirondack Search and Rescue Team. Colleen worked as a dog handler with her air scent German Shephard, Aries, looking for missing persons all over the United States, prior to becoming a registered nurse and previously an EMT. She feels blessed and very fortunate to be able to combine her love of working with children and mother nature here at Ashokan.
Danyel Zehnick
(845) 657-8333 x12

Del Orloske
Outdoor Educator (on call)

Del was born in Ithaca, NY and grew up in New England and now lives in the Woodstock area. He received his graduate degree in sustainability and land planning at the Conway School in Massachusetts and holds an undergraduate degree in science and mathematics. For 12 years he has worked as a consultant for landscape architects, wetland scientist, engineers in NY and CT with a focus on mitigation, restoration, and storm-water management. Del is a licensed New York State D.E.C. Outdoor Guide as well. He has been teaching as an on-call instructor here at the Ashokan Center since 2015. He shares his love for the natural world with everyone he meets. His deep sensitivity and commitment to sustainability and the health of both the environment and the community add an integral aspect to our teaching staff.
Dennis Grant
Education Operations Coordinator

Dennis grew up with a love of all things nature, especially animals, both domesticated and wild! Originally from Long Island, he found himself outside on beaches, trails, or ballfields most times of the year. Dennis graduated from SUNY-ESF in December 2018 with a B.S. in Wildlife Science. Throughout university and soon after graduating, Dennis worked with shorebirds, namely piping plovers, and went on to publish his thesis on nest site selection. A variety of wildlife and environmental education positions eventually led Dennis to start as an educator at Ashokan in 2019. Since then, Dennis has taken on a leadership role in the education department, but he still very much loves getting out of the office and working alongside the educators teaching students in the outdoors!
Emily Masters
Outdoor Educator

Emily graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. Having grown up in the Hudson Valley, she has always felt at peace in nature. After joining the Ashokan Center in 2022, Emily quickly fell in love with being an outdoor educator. Her personal teaching philosophy is to meet students where they are at, regardless of their backgrounds. In her spare time she enjoys encountering wildlife, discovering new music, blacksmithing, and napping in hammocks.
Emily Martin
Food Service Supervisor

Growing up locally in Olivebridge, Emily graduated from Rondout Valley High School Class of 2004. She attended Ulster County Community College and soon after found her passion in the Food Service Industry. Being a Front Of House Server for many years in different restaurants across Ulster County and later in Albany, she eventually found her way back to her hometown of Olivebridge in 2022 and made herself a home at The Ashokan Center amongst new friends and family. She looks forward to the many years to come of nature, education, music, and dance here at the Ashokan Center.
Hailey Luedtke
Education Supervisor

Hailey grew up in the Hudson Valley and lived in Stone Ridge, NY for most of her life. She attended the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse NY and earned a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Biology. While there she educated students as a teaching assistant for general biology lab and as a tutor for biology. After graduation she went on to work on the detection and tracking the of this emerald ash borer with different state organizations like the NYS DEC and NYS DAM. She loves working at the Ashokan Center and is passionate about environmental education!
James Boyd
Outdoor Educator

James graduated with a B.S. in environmental science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and is currently working on his masters in education at SUNY New Paltz. He enjoys spending time outside, hiking, running, and rock climbing in the Mohonk, Catskills, and Adirondack mountains. He loves the opportunity to share his passion for the outdoors with students and families during education field trips and the various public events.
James Williams
Director of Facilities & Maintenance
(845) 657-8333 x17

James was born and raised right here in the Hudson Valley. After finishing high school, he jumped right into the construction trade, wanting to learn anything and everything there was to being a carpenter. He has always LOVED the great outdoors and traditional roots music; that's what really drew him to this wonderful place. His roots run deep on this land/campus, as his Great-great-great-great-great-great Grandfather (Lemuel Winchell) built the Inn that's onsite here. It's a real honor for him to walk, work, and live in his ancestors' footsteps. It's also a wonderful place to raise his growing family!
Jason Masters
Facilities & Maintainence

Jay Ungar
(845) 657-8333 x22

Jay was born to Hungarian and Macedonian immigrant parents and raised in the Bronx, NY where he developed a rich appreciation for music and art, and a longing for time in nature. In 1980 he started Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps at Ashokan, then SUNY New Paltz's Ashokan Field Campus. Inspired by the camps, he composed the fiddle tune "Ashokan Farewell" in 1982, which he recorded with Molly Mason and their band Fiddle Fever. 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. The sound track won a Grammy, and earned Jay an Emmy nomination. In 2006, when Ashokan was unexpectedly being sold, Jay and Molly formed the Ashokan Foundation and with community and state support preserved the land and Ashokan’s important programs. Read the full story here. Jay is president of the Ashokan Foundation and Ashokan Center boards, and is acting CEO. He and Molly have been married since 1991. They co-direct Ashokan Music & Dance Camps and tour nationally spreading their authentic, acoustically-rooted music and the story of Ashokan wherever they go.
Julie Romano
Outdoor Educator

Katie Short

Katie loves spending time outdoors learning new things about nature and animals as well as spending time with her 2 dogs! She is a housekeeper at the Ashokan Center. Katie believes cleaning is therapeutic and enjoys doing it!
Larry Federeau
(845) 657-8333 x19

Lisa Hurley
Director of Private Events
(845) 657-8333 x10

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.
Malcom Grant
Facilities & Maintainence

Mark McHugh
Outdoor Education

Marni Pasch
Development Assistant
(845) 657-8333 x32

Marni Pasch joined the development team in the fall of 2023. With an MA in School Counseling from University of Central Florida, she previously worked as a private academic coach, helping students embrace their unique strengths, turn challenges from stumbling blocks to stepping stones, and navigate school with confidence. Now at Ashokan, Marni is happy to channel her passion for education and student empowerment to the development team at Ashokan, contributing to a mission which creates a much needed safe sanctuary for children and adults to explore their creativity and build confidence through its diverse programs. Marni is delighted to support the Ashokan community by playing a role in growing the future of the Ashokan Center, a place known for the transformational impact it has on its visitors and the surrounding communities. Outside of work, Marni enjoys spending time with her family at concerts, attending theater productions, dancing to 80's music, and expressing herself through creative writing, including poetry, fiction, and reflective essays.
Molly Mason
Vice President/Co-CEO
(845) 657-8333 x22

Molly grew up in Battleground, WA with a fondness for traditional fiddle music and ’30s and ’40s popular tunes and the jazzy sound of the Swing Era. She studied environmental education at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA and cut her musical teeth playing in clubs and colleges. In 1978 she became the bassist in the house band for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion in Minnesota then continued east making New York state her permanent home in the 1980’s. Here she saw the beginning of the Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps, a world-renowned destination for enthusiasts of American music and dance traditions. Molly’s passion for history, nature, and music found a home at Ashokan. In 2006, when the property was unexpectedly being sold, Jay and Molly formed the Ashokan Foundation and with community and state support preserved the land and Ashokan’s important programs. Read the full story here. Molly is vice president of the Ashokan Foundation and Ashokan Center boards. She and Jay have been married since 1991. They co-direct Ashokan Music & Dance Camps and tour nationally spreading their authentic, acoustically-rooted music and the story of Ashokan wherever they go.
Patty Mooney
Outdoor Educator

Patty is a seasoned educator, outdoor enthusiast, practicing artist and a yoga instructor. Having taught art for 20 years at Saugerties High School, upon retirement she returned to the place where she first experienced teaching as a summer educator; the Ashokan Center. Patty digs deep with her students, encouraging them to learn by using their senses, asking questions and to "discover" the many lessons nature has to offer. Patty is as eclectic in her downtime as she is in her professional life, hiking, mountain biking, creating art, teaching yoga, stacking bluestone or walking her dog Skeeter on the Ashokan Rail Trail.
Peter Cook
Managing Director
(845) 657-8333 x24

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.
Rochelle Victor
Director of Information Systems
(845) 657-8333 x40

Rochelle blends her background in art and technology with a focus on non-profits. After leaving a career in animation and teaching in NYC 25 years ago to raise her family in the Hudson Valley, Rochelle has specialized in developing and managing custom management systems. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time in nature especially late-night hikes with her husband and dog.
Rose Quinn
Outdoor Educator

Rose has always felt most at home whilst submerged in nature. She started working in Environmental Education while studying Geosciences at the University at Buffalo. She began by teaching students about renewable energy and how to build solar vehicles while working with New Yorkers for Clean Power. She has also worked as a Naturalist with the Appalachian Mountain Club and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Nowadays, Rose enjoys exploring waterfalls, researching botany and hiking as much of the Catskills as possible.
Ruth Merenda
Director of Community Events
(845) 657-8333 x28

Ruth was raised in West Hurley, NY and attended Onteora High School. She graduated from Bard College in 1997 with a BA in Drama/Dance, and has spent over two decades as a touring musician and recording artist in the band The Mammals. She co-founded the Winter & Summer Hoot, Ashokan's bi-annual community music festivals, with her partner Mike Merenda in 2013 and began to work full time at Ashokan in 2018. She leads the Public Events team in curating and producing cultural and educational workshops, concerts, camps, and festivals throughout the year. These include our Music & Dance Camps, originally founded by her family in 1982. She is passionate about inter-generational experiences in nature and art, loves connecting with our rich local community, and is excited to make all of Ashokan's public events accessible to as many folks as possible through initiatives like free or flexible pricing and Pay it Forward scholarships.
Samuel Hopson
Outdoor Education

Sara Trapani
Director of Development
(845) 657-8333 x15

Sara Trapani has worked in nonprofit fundraising or small business development since 2010 and believes in the power of philanthropy to create lasting change. After completing her BA with a double major in Journalism and English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Sara served in the United States Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa where she developed community projects such as a girls leadership seminar, an educational radio broadcast, health/yoga programs and more. After her early career in development and institutional gifts at Omega Institute, Sara founded and directed a small business, Whole Sky Yoga, which still serves many hundreds of Ulster County residents every year. Sara lives just fifteen minutes from the Ashokan Center with her husband Ryan and their four energetic kids Metta, Maple, Tanner and Magnolia. Together they enjoy their backyard orchard, maple sugar shack, chickens, and taking long walks. Sara is an experienced fundraiser, grant writer, advanced yoga teacher, avid reader of nonfiction, and a personal wellness enthusiast.
Shawna Ryan
(845) 657-8333 x12

Stefan Dolan
Facilities & Maintainence

Steven Hunt

Tammy Heppner
Finance Associate
(845) 657-8333 x13

Tammy, a native of Kingston, NY, brings a wealth of experience to her role as a finance manager, with a decade-long dedication to supporting non-profit organizations. Tammy is also wife and mother, having married her high school sweetheart. Joining the Ashokan Center a year ago, Tammy's commitment to community and nature shines through. She finds solace and joy in her cabin upstate.
Tom Raffaldi
Educator (on call)
(845) 657-8333 x14

Tom is an Ulster County native who has spent a lifetime exploring the Catskills with a particular love for the Ashokan Reservoir watershed. Graduating from SUNY ESF with a degree in Forest Biology, he worked many years in the Bureau of Wildlife with the New York State DEC. He is honored to have the opportunity to share his love of the outdoors and the natural world with today's youth.

To submit updates or corrections, please email tech@ashokancenter.org • Thank you!