Board of Directors
Nevill Smythe, President, is a philanthropic consultant specializing in planned giving programs, fundraising, and general non-profit management. He is the former Vice President, Programs at the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley where he was responsible for administering donor advised, designated, field of interest and scholarship funds as well as grant awards. Prior to the Community Foundation, he was the Director of Development for Poughkeepsie Day School and the Whitby School in Greenwich, CT. Nevill was also involved in the advertising and print production fields in New York and Boston. He is President of the Planned Giving Council of the Mid-Hudson Valley and is a past Chair of the Chamber Foundation of the Dutchess Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Jacki Brownstein, Vice President, was the Executive Director of Mental Health America in Dutchess County for 16 years before her retirement in 2012. Prior to her appointment as ED of the MHA in DC, she was the Division Director of Family and Youth Services at the Mental Health Association in Ulster County. In the past she has worked as a trainer, counselor and educator for teen parent services, family planning services and at-risk youth. Ms. Brownstein has served and continues to serve on numerous boards and committees concerned with mental health, addictions, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, at risk youth, disaster mental health, family planning and social welfare issues. She has been on the Boards of national Mental Health America and the NYS Mental Health Association.
Hooker Heaton, Treasurer, is a life-long resident of the City and Town of Poughkeepsie and currently resides with his wife Carole, a Registered Nurse. They have three children, the youngest being a sophomore at Marist College. In 1972, Hooker graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA with a BA in Economics; in 1975, he commenced working for the Dutchess County Courts; in 1976, he was appointed the Deputy Commissioner of Jurors for Dutchess County; in 1990, he was appointed the Commissioner of Jurors for Dutchess County; and in 2010, he retired. As Commissioner, he supervised non-judicial employees and interacted with the public, Judges and their staff, court administrators and other government officials, attorneys, and the news media He participated in various management training programs, and served two terms as the President of the State Association of Jury Commissioners. From 1981-1987, Hooker served as 2nd Ward Alderman on the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council and previously served on the boards of the Vassar Brothers Institute and the Dutchess County YMCA. As a parent, I was involved in Little League, Cub Scouts, and the rowing associations for both Spackenkill and Lourdes. He believes in the mission of the Mediation Center, especially for young persons, and was attracted by the strength and dedication of the Board.
Larry Hertz, Secretary, is a feature writer for Vassar College’s publications and websites and a public relations specialist for Choice Words, a New Paltz-based PR firm. A native of Bethlehem PA, he lives in Highland and has been a resident of the mid-Hudson Valley for 40 years. Larry retired in 2012 from the Poughkeepsie Journal, where he worked for 37 years as a reporter, editor and columnist. During his tenure as a reporter and columnist, he covered sports, politics and the criminal justice system. He also served as editorial page editor for four years and was the city editor for two years. Larry is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie and the Family Ski Meisters Ski Club. His hobbies are skiing and golf. He has a son, Kyle, 23, who studied at SUNY Binghamton and the University of Washington and a daughter, Jamie, 21, who will graduate in May 2014 from George Washington University’s Eliot School of International Affairs with a degree in international relations.
Pamela Barrack Retired May 2, 2014 after 9 years as Commissioner of Finance, Dutchess County. Prior to her appointment in 2005 to Commissioner of Finance by County Executive William R. Steinhaus, she was self-employed as a tax preparer and consultant specializing in individual, business and fiduciary tax return preparation for 18 years. Pamela was also an internal auditor at West Point Military Academy from 1985-1987 and prior to that worked for the Internal Revenue Service (1974-1985) conducting examinations of a variety of individual and business returns including sole proprietorships, fiduciary, partnership and corporations. She served as Tax Shelter Coordinator for the Albany District from 1984-1985. Complex accounting problems, specialized business and industry practices and controversial tax laws characterized the Tax Shelter examinations. She is currently active in the Daughters of the American Revolution serving as Recording Secretary for her local Melzingah Chapter DAR and the Board of Directors of the Madam Brett Homestead. She also serves on the National Society DAR Audit Committee. She currently serves as a board member for the Beacon Historical Society. Pamela is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a B.B.A. in Business Management.
Valerie Belton is the Branch/Business Development Manager for the new location of Ulster Savings Bank in Wappingers Fall, NY where she is responsible for operations, staff management, new business and community relations. Ms. Belton graduated with a BS in Communications and a Business Administration minor from East Carolina University. Valerie is a 2014 fellows graduate of the Hudson Valley Patterns for Progress. Ms. Belton serves on the Trustee Board of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Wappingers Fall, NY. Valerie supports and participates in numerous community and charity events, Go Red for Women Luncheon, Heart Association Walk, Feed the Homeless Ministry in Poughkeepsie, The Cosimos Celebrity Server Dinner and the Anti-bullying Walkathon. Valerie is passionate about helping others. A 21 year resident of Dutchess County, she is the proud parent of two sons Alexander and Cameron Belton and grandparent to Gabriella Belton.
Robert Haskins, Esq. is a partner with Steinberg and Symer, LLP, a law firm in Poughkeepsie, New York. His focus is on malpractice defense and he also has extensive experience in the areas of personal injury, premise liability, and complex tort litigation. A graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz and the Syracuse University School of Law where he received the American Bar Association Award for study in State and Local Government. He teaches reproductive law and policy at the State University at New Paltz.
Karen Lawson has been a Claims Adjuster with Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Corp. since 2006. She graduated Cum Laude from Marist College with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Paralegal Certification. Karen is a NY State licensed Private Investigator with 14 years of experience in civil litigation and criminal defense matters in both Dutchess and Ulster County. She has investigated matters for the New York State Insurance Fund and conducted investigations on behalf of the New York State Capital Defender’s Office. She contributes to various organizations including United Way, The American Heart Association and The American Cancer Society. Karen volunteers yearly for the United Way Day of Caring and has offered her time to assist the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Karen has resided in Ulster County her entire life and enjoys hiking the rail trails and Mohonk/Minnewaska with her husband Eric and rescue dog Paisley.
Roy Merolli, Ph.D., is a professor of Public Administration at Marist College, where he served as Executive Vice President for 15 years, responsible for strategic planning, resource development, institutional research, human resources, campus development, information technology, town/gown relations and liaison to external legal counsel. Prior to his appointment at Marist, Dr. Merolli was Vice President for Finance and Administration at Eastern Connecticut State University for 16 years. Dr. Merolli received his doctorate in political science from the University of Connecticut, with major areas of study in Public Administration, Public Finance and American Government.
Don Murphy was the CEO of St. Francis Hospital (now Mid- Hudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Regional Medical Center) for 25 years (ret. 2000), one of two community hospitals in Poughkeepsie. Prior to assuming the CEO position, he held senior hospital positions in Worcester, MA and Albany, NY. While in Albany he also was an adjunct professor of Health Care Administration in the Graduate School of RPI. He holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Philosophy also an MBA in Health Care Administration. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association and sat on the board of Mental Health America-Dutchess County serving as treasurer. He also was elected Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Dutchess County.
Joan Pagones , a native of Westchester County, Joan has been a resident of Fishkill since 1971. She is the first woman elected to serve as Town Supervisor and served in that position for over twenty years. Joan is a graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes H. S. She holds an A. A. Degree from Dutchess Community College in Liberal Arts and the Humanities. She is a graduate of Pace University s land Use Program and has attended Empire State College. She has been honored by Pace University with their Groundbreakers Award, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts, Our lady of Lourdes. H. S., The Exchange Clubs Meritorious Award, The American Cancer Society, Mid Hudson Patterns for Progress President’s award among others. Joan is married to D. C. Surrogate and Acting N. Y. S. Supreme Court Judge James Pagones. They are the parents of U. S. Army Captain Jordan Pagones and daughter Julia Pagones.