• Leadership Bios

  • Julia Pagones Julia Pagones

    Born and raised in Dutchess County, I graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Political Science in 2008 and received my M.P.A. from Marist College in 2011. I’ve worked for Dutchess County Government since 2009, and currently serve as a Communications Specialist in the County Executive's Office.

    I’ve been a member of the HVYP Advisory Council since 2013, and I’m involved with several community organizations and causes including serving as a Book Buddy at Krieger Elementary School, committee member of the United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region’s Young Leaders United, board member of the Dutchess County Leadership Prayer Breakfast, and I’m an annual participant in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics NY—Hudson Valley Region. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors and experiencing the beauty of the Hudson Valley. 

  • Geoff Brault Geoff Brault

    I'm originally from Philadelphia, went to high school in Connecticut, and fell in love with the Hudson Valley after graduating from Marist College. At work, I'm the Digital and Brand Strategist at MidHudson Regional Hospital handling a multitude of marketing and communications responsibilities. At night and on the weekends, I'm the radio play-by-play voice of Marist football and basketball, and host of The Classroom, a weekly academic-based sports talk show on Fox 1220 WGNY.

    Outside of the office and arena, I enjoy golf, travel, and eating at all of the amazing restaurants in Dutchess County. After being involved with the Hudson Valley Young Professionals for more than five years in a variety of roles, I was elected co-chair in 2017. 

  • Melissa Clark Melissa Clark

    I first fell in love with the Hudson Valley while working toward my B.A. in International Relations at SUNY New Paltz, which recently named me a 40 Under 40 alum. After college, I spent two years in national service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Poughkeepsie and went on to earn my M.A.from SUNY Empire State College in Social & Public Policy.

    I’ve held various positions at United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, most recently Director of Community Impact. In additton to serving as HVYP’s Community Outreach Coordinator, I serve on the Orange County Youth Bureau Advisory Board, Dutchess County Economic Development Advisory Council, as Co-Chair of the Dutchess County Bringing Agencies Together Coalition and as Board Chair for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program for Dutchess and Orange. In my spare time, I’m hanging out with my husband, puppy and tortoise at home in Poughkeepsie. 

  • Freddy Garcia Freddy Garcia

    As a Bronx native, I moved up from New York City to the Hudson Valley 7 years ago after accepting a position at Marist College. Currently, I serve as the Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement responsible for providing leadership, innovation, and vision to promote diversity and inclusion among all constituents of the College. I also serve as a liaison to the community developing key relationships that advance the mission of Marist College.

    On top of serving on the HVYPl Advisory Council, I am a proud board member of the Catharine Street Community Center, Family Services, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Rhinebeck Bank. As you can see, I am deeply passionate not only about my professional career but also making an positive impact in my community. I enjoy getting out on the greens for a round of golf, watching and occasionally playing basketball, and spending time with family and friends. 

  • Don Minichino Don Minichino

    A DCC and MSMC grad, I’ve been a journalist, photographer/videographer, ad agency exec, and now an economic developer. If you’re not moving, you’re just taking up space! As Director of Business Attraction for Think Dutchess, I’m often busy pitching site selectors and corporate executives across the U.S. on the competitive advantages of doing business here. I’ve been an Advisory Council member since 2015 and co-chair its Communications Committee. In 2017, I was honored as a Forty Under 40 Mover and Shaker.

    I’m an annual participant in the Fishkill Polar Plunge, serve on Poughkeepsie’s First Friday Committee, and run an annual fundraising campaign to benefit Sparrow’s Nest. When I need a break, you can find me on the 7 Line en-route to Citi Field, or in the stands at The Dutch. You might also find me on Amtrak traveling cross-country, finessing my photo skills at historic sites and waterfronts, running Spartan Races, biking rail trails, or kayaking the Hudson. Who knows what adventures lie ahead! 

  • Angela Lombardi Angela Lombardi

    I am currently employed at a local family-run business started in 1979 by my father John Lombardi... CIA Security in Fishkill, holding a marketing degree from Marist College School of Business. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Advisory Council since 2016, as well as the Education & Professional Development, and Special Events committees with the Hudson Valley Young Professionals. I’m a New York City Marathon runner, and enjoy singing on the side. 

  • Matt Mullaney Matt Mullaney

    A lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley, I work for a multi-generational regional automobile dealer... Hudson Cadillac Buick GMC in Poughkeepsie, where I am the General Manager. In addition to being on the Advisory Council for the Hudson Valley Young Professionals, I am also a board member for The Chamber Foundation. 

  • Devan Cleary Devan Cleary

    I work for The Hodgkins Agency, a financial services practice based out of the City of Poughkeepsie. I am heavily involved in the community, whether at networking events building business, or volunteering for different organizations, such as the Dutchess Regional Chamber of Commerce, to help build a strong community. I enjoy cooking on the grill during spring and summer, as well as spending time with family and friends. I enjoy watching football and baseball, especially if it’s the Mets or the football Giants. 

  • Heather Fitzsimmons Heather Fitzsimmons

    I'm originally from the Hudson Valley and grew up in Poughkeepsie. After graduating from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, I moved back to the Hudson Valley. Working in the Career Center at Mount Saint Mary College, I helped students and alumni prepare for their next step - the job hunt - and seeking opportunities to gain experience their their field of study.

    I joined HVYP in August 2014 and became an Advisory Council in September 2015. Being a member of HVYP has helped me grow both personally and professionally and the connections I have made are priceless. After being away from the Hudson Valley for school, HVYP helped me to get more connected to my local community (and there are a lot of fun events!). In my free time, I love being outdoors, gardening, or trying to decide which DIY project or recipe to try next (I’m a total foodie). 

  • Michelle Barone-Lepore Michelle Barone-Lepore

    I am the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Rhinebeck Bank in Poughkeepsie. I graduated Cum Laude from Marist College with a B.S. in Marketing. You may have heard me on the radio as the Saturday afternoon live host on 96.1 Kiss FM. I am also a professional singer and perform at some of the Valley’s most well-attended events.

    Not only do I sit on the Hudson Valley Young Professionals Advisory Council, but I am also co-chair of the Fundraising committee. This year I am also co-chairing the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event hosted by Family Services, which last year I helped organize and host. Additionally, I dedicate time to Poughkeepsie’s First Friday initiative – helping to stimulate economic growth in the City of Poughkeepsie. I am passionate about my career in marketing and I have a deeply vested interest in our local community. I love to leverage my skills and experience to help businesses and organizations thrive. 

  • James Lentz James Lentz

    Originally hailing from the Town of Poughkeepsie, I graduated from Arlington High School in 2004. I then went on to further my education at Pace University in Pleasantville, where I received a B.S. in Mathematics in 2008. After graduation, I moved back to Dutchess County and began working for TEG Federal Credit Union, where I currently work as a Branch Manager. I’m involved in many community organizations and I enjoy serving our Dutchess County community. 

  • Eddie Monroy Eddie Monroy

    I can proudly call myself a true Hudson Valley Product. I grew up in Orange County, started my college career at DCC, and became a Hall of Famer within the Business School at SUNY New Paltz as I completed both my undergraduate and post-graduate studies.

    I have a strong passion for both business and helping others reach their dreams! I’m currently Director of Consulting for Strategy Leaders, where I work with a diverse group of small-medium-business owners to grow revenue, profits, and sustainability. I’m on the board of the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, advisor with Educate 2 Envision, and co-chair of HVYP’s Education Committee, and sit on its Advisory Council.

    In my downtime, I’m active on the soccer field scoring goals, traveling to new locations, enjoying brew tours (as well as brewing!), & spending time with friends and family. 

  • Jennifer Pawenski Jennifer Pawenski

    I am a Hudson Valley native having briefly left New York to complete my bachelor’s degree, but returned to the area in 2011 after the completion of a contract working for Walt Disney World in the entertainment department. I’m currently in the marketing department for The Chazen Companies, an employee-owned firm that provides engineering, land surveying, planning, environmental, health & safety, and landscape architecture services.

    In addition to sitting on the HVYP’s Advisory Council, I am an associate board member for the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, a board member for The Chamber Foundation and the track lead for the Youth Leadership’s Junior Achievement Program.

    In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, ballroom dancing, and hiking (currently working on accomplishing the Catskills 3500). 

  • Phillip Bronzi Phillip Bronzi

    I am Vice President of Commercial Lending and the Dutchess Sales Team Leader for Tompkins Mahopac Bank. A lifelong resident of Dutchess County, I’ve spent the majority of my professional career in Westchester, but moved back to Dutchess in 2012. I’ve been active in the community since.

    I am currently HVYP’s Immediate Past Co-Chair, and serve as the Treasurer for Sparrows Nest of the Hudson Valley, a Trustee for the Anderson Center for Autism, an Advisory Board Member for the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Strategic Marketing Council of Think Dutchess Alliance for Business and a volunteer for St. Denis Parish.

  • Justin Semke Justin Semke

    After graduating from Northeastern University in Boston, I was very excited to move back home to Dutchess County. Now that I have been back for a number of years working as a Financial Advisor with Ameriprise Financial, I know I made the right choice. I truly enjoy working with individuals to help them navigate life and achieve their goals. When I am not working, I love to spend time with my fianceĢe andour dog hiking, driving around the area, visiting family, or sometimes just hanging out at home. I also enjoy giving back to the community as a member of the LaGrange Sunrise Rotary. 

  • Evan Menist Evan Menist

    I wasn’t born or raised here, but after just one year in the Hudson River Valley, I quickly fell in love and moved to Poughkeepsie full time. Since then, I have attained my B.A. in Political Science and Master of Public Administration degrees from Marist College, where I worked for eight years in IT before taking a junior researching position with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress. I’ve been an HVYP Advisory Council member since 2016, and graduated Patterns’ prestigious Regional Fellows Program in 2017.

    I’m involved with the Friends of Peach Hill, and volunteer my time in many other ways. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing in our beautiful local parks. You can also catch my band ‘Breakfast for Dinner’ at many awesome local bars and restaurant, or find me playing a round of golf at College Hill or grabbing a beer with friends me at Blue Collar Brewery in Poughkeepsie’s Northside, where I live. 

  • Kaitlin Gisolfi Kaitlin Gisolfi

    I currently co-chair the HVYP Special Events Committee, where I spearhead our fundraising and networking efforts. I am the marketing coordinator at D’Arcangelo & Co., LLP, a public accounting firm based in Poughkeepsie. I am a Marist College alum passionate about branding, social media, and giving back to the community. 

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