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Hudson Valley Future Summit

Jumping Hurdles

Do you have a bold idea and need help taking it to fruition? This session will explore how to overcome practical challenges to implementing your work. Topics include how to connect with the right people in the Hudson Valley, capitalize on transportation networks, and access capital to bring your idea to scale.


 

Help! Finding the Right People in the Hudson Valley

Colonel Cavalry Joseph Davidson ’90, Garrison Commander

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

The Army assigned me. After 26 years away from the Hudson Valley, I have the great pleasure to come home to live and work. Having lived around the country and world, I'm thrilled to be back. It's amazing for me to see all the changes and economic developments that have occurred with so much potential still available. It's an exciting time!

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

Don't judge a book by its cover. Although most of my life has been devoted to national defense, prior to assuming my current position as the deputy commandant at West Point I served as the Garrison commander of Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, NY.  As the only active duty military installation in NYC, one of my main efforts was building advocacy for the Army while trying to bridge the civilian-military gap through community outreach throughout the city. One line of effort in that endeavor was veteran hiring initiatives.

 

Catherine Doherty, Professor of Theatre, SUNY New Paltz

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

The reputation of the Theatre Arts Department at SUNY New Paltz and the vibrant arts community in the Hudson Valley.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

I firmly believe that  the healthiest communities are those communities that embrace and support the arts. I am a professional director and actor (proud member of Actor's Equity Association). For over a decade, I was the producing director at Northern Stage, an award winning non-profit professional regional theatre in the Upper Valley in Vermont. Currently I am the associate artistic director of Potsdam Music Theatre in Potsdam, NY, which is a professional theatre company dedicated to bringing quality theatre to an underserved rural population. In all of my professional endeavors, community outreach has been a key component of my philosophy as a theatre artist.

 

Nels Leaders, Vice President, Bread Alone

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

I grew up in the Hudson Valley. My family's business, Bread Alone, has been here since 1983. After about a 10-year stint in New York City, I was happy to return home and to Bread Alone.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

After growing up in the bakery business, I studied economics at Colby College before starting a career in consulting. I worked in consulting for about five years, focusing first on mergers and acquisitions, and later on bankruptcies (past market crash!). I came back to the family bakery business after doing an MBA at NYU Stern. I enjoy the challenges of building strong companies and organizations. With Bread Alone, I enjoy that we create a simple, honest product that lots of people enjoy. Outside of work, I enjoy living in the Catskills and getting outside.

 

Julian Lesser ’05, Director, Sales and Product Development, Luminary Publishing

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

I grew up in a small Westchester town and received my BFA from SUNY New Paltz in painting, and upon graduation, moved to New York City. There I worked for others as well as for myself. By day, I worked on digital marketing strategies for large global luxury brands. At night and on the weekends, I was a painter, serial entrepreneur, master composter and active environmental advocate.

After 10 years in New York City, I longed to come back to the Hudson Valley, and began purchasing real estate in Ulster County. This led to a dual residency life; weekdays in New York City working and weekends in the Hudson Valley fixing up homes that needed TLC.

Eventually, I found my way to Luminary Media, a full-service marketing agency located in uptown Kingston. I have been operating as the director of sales and product development  for two years.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

With 10+ years of experience in strengthening international brands, relationship management, client growth, and marketing strategy in both digital and traditional media, I've become a dynamic, creative, and results-oriented professional with extensive expertise in digital, print, and content marketing on both client and agency side. I'm highly skilled at developing multi-faceted marketing campaigns to drive sales activity, customer loyalty, and growth in both B2B and B2C verticals. I've demonstrated success in managing and growing client portfolios and sales revenue as well as launching my own companies and selling them. I love to collaborate, lead and tackle new projects and am driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire to excel.

 

Lindsey Lusher Shute, Executive Director and Co-Founder, National Young Farmers Coalition

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

I came to the Hudson Valley to study at Bard College and join my husband in pursuing his farm enterprise. We've stayed here because of the tremendous support we've received in building our farm and the National Young Farmers Coalition, from individuals to companies, elected officials and foundations. The valley is a place that supports progressive ideas, risks and creativity.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

NYFC executive director Lindsey Lusher Shute is a leading advocate for independent and sustainable farms. As a young farmer herself, she is acutely aware of the challenges that young and beginning farmers face. With a background in organizing and state policy, Lindsey co-founded NYFC as a platform for young farmers to have a meaningful influence on the structural obstacles in the way of their success. In its first five years, NYFC has engaged tens of thousands of farmers in policy action; galvanized the land trust community around farmland affordability; and organized 28 rural NYFC chapters. Lindsey regularly keynotes at farmer conferences and is quoted by national news outlets as an expert on the structural issues facing family farms. In 2014, Shute was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House.

 

Noa Simons, Mission-Driven Entrepreneur and Investor, Hudson Valley Startup Fund, LLC, Community Compost Company

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

My family roots are in the Hudson Valley and the area is among the most beautiful in the world. The natural beauty and progressive spirit of the people who live here are inspiring.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

I am committed to growing the Upstate New York ecosystem by connecting capital to investment opportunities at all stages of development through UVANY, and investing in companies with high growth potential and innovative business models through the Hudson Valley Startup Fund.

 

Ward Todd, Executive Director, Ulster Chamber of Commerce

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

I was born, raised and went to school in Ulster County but I left the region after college in search of something different. Fortunately, I was recruited to return to work in Ulster County, at a local commercial radio station. I wound up staying in Ulster County and feel blessed to be able to live and work in such a special, beautiful place.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

I was privileged to be Chairman of the Ulster County Legislature, President of the Kingston Board of Education and long-time Ulster County radio station host. As Chamber of Commerce President, I have the best job in the region - to be the chief cheerleader for the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our local economy. Our members provide meaningful employment opportunities. They pay more than their fair share of taxes (relieving homeowners of that burden) and they provide the goods, products and services the residents of the Hudson Valley need. All valid reasons for everyone to Shop Local and Keep it Local.

 

 


From Idea to Reality - SOLD OUT!

Ann Finnegan, Vice President Commercial Lending/Development Finance, Kinderhook Bank

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

The beauty and diversity of the region, its warm small-town communities and proximity to big city resources bring me and my family back again and again to the greater Hudson Valley to live, work and play.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

I enjoy making a positive difference -- in my family, my communities, and in my chosen profession, impactful small business lending and development finance.

 

 

Michael Keegan, Regional President, M&T Bank

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

My spouse was from the region and followed her.  We met in New Jersey and the plan was to move upstate and then go to grad school in Boston after a couple of years.  29 years later, I am still in the region.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

Tough question.  I am a banker by job description and a entrepreneur at heart.  Married with three children.  New empty nester and really happy about it. 

 

Lara Litchfield-Kimber, Executive Director, Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

I came to the Hudson Valley in September 2012 to become the new executive director of the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum (MHCM) in Poughkeepsie, NY. Charged with transforming a struggling organization, I was inspired to help MHCM realize a new level of community impact in the area of early childhood education and to be a part of the revitalization of the Poughkeepsie waterfront.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

Under Litchfield-Kimber’s leadership, MHCM has been honored by Dutchess Tourism Inc., with its 2015 Family Entertainment Award of Distinction, and was recognized with the 2015 Non-Profit Spotlight Award by the United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. Litchfield-Kimber is the Hudson Valley's 2015 ATHENA Leadership Award Recipient and was awarded the 2015 Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce Headliner Award for Leadership in Organization and Community.

Litchfield-Kimber received her B.A. from Amherst College and her M.S. from Cornell University. Formally trained as a plant pathologist, Litchfield-Kimber left research and teaching to become an entrepreneur, starting Fertile Minds, Inc., an informal science education consulting group. She then made the leap to higher education fundraising at Cornell University and Wells College, before joining the museum field in 2004.

 

Johnny LeHane, Managing Partner, Hudson Valley Start Up Fund LLC, Co-Founding Owner and CIO Partner Relations, WAKA Kickball & Social Sports

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

I grew up in the Hudson Valley and when owning my own company allowed me to raise my family anywhere I wished, I chose to move back to the area, and settle in Rhinebeck, where my sister and her husband, as well as my mother and father had relocated.

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

I grew up in the Hudson Valley, went to engineering school in Washington DC worked in small and large software and internet companies, as well as built my own distributed business in the consumer services space.  I moved back to the Hudson Valley with my wife and growing family in 2005, continuing to work in my company from here.  I now help others start and scale businesses in the Hudson Valley to support a vibrant and entrepreneurial ecosystem.  My first step in fulfilling this mission is leading the Hudson Valley Startup Fund supporting and investing in the right local companies.

 

Russell Zwanka, Assistant Professor of Marketing, SUNY New Paltz

What made you decide to work and/or live in the Hudson Valley?

I have roots in the Upstate New York area.  When the opportunity arose to return to New York, I came home to a vibrant, energetic, growing area that is transforming itself into hubs for technology, engineering, and food and beverages!

What would you like the audience and your fellow attendees to know about you?

At SUNY New Paltz, I teach Marketing Principles, Sales Management, Marketing Strategy, Category Management, and Food Retail Management.  All of these classes make up our newly formed SUNY New Paltz Food Marketing Track, the only Food Marketing Track inside the SUNY system!  I am also CEO of Triple Eight Marketing, a retail consultancy firm specializing in market strategic positioning, competitive responses, and customer engagement inside the food retail industry- where I have spent the majority of my career.  In addition to teaching and consulting, I have authored eight books and spoken at various events nationally and internationally.