Alumni Hall of Pride
The purpose of the Hall of Pride is to highlight the accomplishments of Rondout Valley alumni. The plaques of the inductees are now mounted in the Rondout Valley High School lobby where the Hall of Pride acts as a daily reminder to students of the many wonderful and varied accomplishments Rondout alumni have made in our local community and the world beyond. In addition to accenting alumni accomplishments, the aim continues to be to create a tradition that enriches relationships and fosters networking among our students, alumni and community members.
Communication Executive, Researcher, Author
Class of 1978
State University of New York, New Paltz, B.A., Communications w/Honors, 1981
Brooklyn College, M.A., Communications w/Honors, 1986
Simmons College, M.B.A., 1998
Capella University, Ph.D. Education, 2016
At Rondout, Rhoades was the class president three out of her four years and named Citizen of the Year by The Daughters of the American Revolution in her senior year. In addition, she participated in band, choir, track, gymnastics, and cheerleading. Inspired by her leadership work as well as her Public Speaking teacher, Mrs. Decker, she went on to focus on communication in her education and for her 40+ year career. Throughout her profession, Rhoades carefully navigated her opportunities in a mostly male-dominated business world, eventually reaching the executive level as Senior-Vice-President of an international financial services organization. She has published extensively and is considered a thought-leader in her field. Many times, Rhoades was the only woman on the executive team. For that reason, giving back has been important. She has conducted workshops for women through Dress for Success and mentored young women at risk of not continuing their education through Take Stock in Children. Her dedication to helping women succeed in business inspired her to write The Warrior and the Little Girl: Create Power and Joy in Your Work Life.
In 2002, Rhoades founded Rhoades Communication and spent the rest of her career sharing her knowledge with leaders world-wide, enabling them to become better communicators. Her manual, The Manager’s Guide to Communication Excellence is described as a ‘goldmine’ for improving leadership communication. She is most proud of her philanthropic endeavors, including founding Boston AIDS Africa a non-profit, responsible for sending caregiver kits to those suffering from the side effects of AIDS. She was named one of Boston’s heroes for this work.
Personal Quote: Life is unpredictable. Dance in the moment and create a life you love.
Engineer, Inventor, Mentor, Sports Official, Volunteer
Class of 1980
Ulster County Community College, A.A.S. Electrical Technology, 1982
SUNY College of Technology at Utica/Rome, B.T. Electrical Engineering Technology, 1984
Walden University, M.S. Electrical Engineering, 2008
At Rondout, Pomerantz was an average student. A’s in Math and Science, C’s in English and social studies. Thanks to electives he graduated with a B+! During his school years he worked as a waiter at the Brookside Hotel, an old-time Jewish Catskills resort. This enabled him to afford college. College is where he excelled academically. Taking a strong interest in hands-on Electronics, he proudly studied Electrical Technology at UCCC and SUNY College of Technology. Later he continued his studies at Walden University.
Pomerantz’s career began at a small company, ASD in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he got a deep dive education in electronic design/manufacturing, mechanical design/fabrication and quality engineering. He then went on to an Electronic Tech job at IBM, in the Electronic Packaging Development organization. Glenn played key roles in equipment engineering for the manufacturing and development of Ceramic Packaging (the device that the computer chips are attached to). He shifted his career to Metrology (the science of measurements). He began as a technician and later achieved an Advisory Engineer title, where he continues to work. His favorite parts of the job are taking on challenging devices to measure and mentoring the young-tenure engineers. He holds 19 patents in Electronic Packaging and has published many papers.
He is a volunteer EMT with the Kerhonkson Accord First Aid Squad for 40+ years. He umpires baseball/softball and is the lead referee of a high school football officiating crew. A highlight for him was being selected to umpire the NYS HS Baseball Championships in 2005. Glenn is also a very active volunteer and executive board member of the Kerhonkson Synagogue. Glenn and his wife Cindy proudly reside in the Hamlet of Kerhonkson. They are very proud of their children, Eddie, Tori and Roxanne. They enjoy traveling to places where Cindy can enjoy the beach and Glenn can sample local craft beer!
Personal Quote: Don’t be afraid to fail, you have to make a lot of mistakes to get very good!
Water Resources Engineer and Record Label Founder
Class of 2001
Northeastern University, BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2006
University of San Francisco, MS in Environmental Management, 2011
Over the course of her four years at Rondout, Pezzino was class president, student council president, and an accomplished field hockey player, awarded the MVP of the league and acting as co-captain her senior year. Pezzino was also involved in several music programs at Rondout, playing piano and clarinet in jazz band, band, and chorus. She was the valedictorian of her class and has always had an innate enthusiasm for science and math. She pursued both of her passions – science and music – after high school, and currently works as a Water Resources Engineer in California and manages an independent record label, The Long Road Society.
Pezzino received her BS from Northeastern University and focused her studies on environmental engineering due to an interest in more global public health concerns associated with water and sanitation access and infrastructure. She co-founded Northeastern’s Engineers Without Borders program, traveling with them to Honduras in 2005 for a condition assessment of rural infrastructure. She completed her MS at University of San Francisco, utilizing a National Science Foundation fellowship to complete research on the degradation of Native Hawaiian Fishponds on O’ahu. Pezzino is now the Vice President of SRT Consultants, a women-owned engineering firm that she has worked for since 2006, and oversees their small water systems program, which supports small water systems throughout California facing water quality or access issues. She was the chair of the Water For People committee from 2007-2012, focused on raising money locally for critical water and sanitation projects in South America and Africa.
An avid record collector since college, Pezzino founded and manages the record label The Long Road Society to support and promote music within her community of artists living in Oakland, California. The Long Road Society currently has a roster of eight musicians of various genres (folk, jazz, hip hop) and produces vinyl records and events throughout California.
“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” — Lao Tzu
Town of Rochester Town Clerk/Town Historian/Marriage Officer
Class of 2001
SUNY Ulster County Community College, Associates Applied Science, 2005
Treasurer of Ulster County Town Clerk/Tax Collector Association
President of Friends of Historic Rochester
At Rondout, Gundberg enjoyed advanced ceramics, photography, creative writing and mystery and suspense elective courses. From 9th-12th grade she played 2nd base and pitched for the Rondout Valley JV/V Softball program. The start of her career in the Town of Rochester Government began in the 9th grade working for the youth commission and fostered shelter animals. This experience led her to participate in youth development and advocacy programs, volunteer in community events, holiday luncheons, meal deliveries to shut ins and learn municipal law.
Gundberg spent her college years unsure of her career path. Her positive experiences with her community made her feel connected to the town and people in it. In 2005 she became Deputy Town Clerk and found her true passion. In November 2009 Gundberg successfully ran for Town Clerk cross endorsed on 4 party lines and has continued that record her last 4 terms. Once in office, Gundberg served 13 years in various officer positions for Ulster County Town Clerk and Tax Collection Association, 5 terms as the president and elected the official historian for the organization.
Gundberg is president of Friends of Historic Rochester and town historian. In these roles she developed a deep appreciation for local archives and their history; she works hard at keeping the history of the town alive while getting community engagement. She has created YouTube videos, narrated a historical bus tour, and published her first ACCORDIAN (local newspaper). She successfully spearheads the Heritage Day Fall Festival geared to bringing families and friends together.
One of her greatest accomplishments is being a mother of three children, Sienna, Brayden and Jared who all attend Rondout Valley Schools.
Quote: “For our own success to be real, it must contribute to the success of others.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Researcher in Human & Machine Vision, Engineering Leader, Entrepreneur, Class of 1979
Ulster County Community College, A.A.S. Engineering Science, 1980, Clarkson University, B.S. Electrical & Computer Engineering with Honors, 1982, Clarkson University, M.S. Electrical & Computer Engineering, 1984, Clarkson University, Ph.D. Systems Engineering, Minor Mathematics, 1987
At Rondout, Johnson was active in band, choir, school productions, track & field, and soccer. On cold winter nights he spent his time tearing apart old radios and televisions and building his own early computers. Encouraged by these successes and his teachers at Rondout, he pursued a degree in electrical engineering. His Master’s thesis developed methods to identify fruit flies with mutant circadian rhythms. His Ph.D. dissertation analyzed the coding and processing of visual information in the brain.
Johnson’s career has been spent leading research in neural networks and machine vision, missile guidance, holographic data storage and processing, laser radar, semiconductor devices, and autonomous vehicles at Hughes Aircraft, Rockwell Science Center, and Northrop Grumman. Currently, as a Principal Engineering Fellow, an honor bestowed on less than 1% of the engineers at Raytheon Intelligence, Space, and Airborne Systems, he leads projects developing next generation space imaging systems.
Over the years Johnson served on senior advisory councils at prestigious educational institutions such as USC, Caltech, Harvey Mudd, and Calpoly and been involved with numerous technology companies including Realwear, Delta-Tau Data Systems, Miracle Engineering, Maestro Media, Seven Days Productions, and Eidetic Systems. Fascinated with history, he co-authored “Warriors of the 106th – The Last Infantry Division of World War II,” the story of his uncle’s infantry division during the Battle of the Bulge with Emmy award winning historians Martin King and Michael Collins.
Personal Quote: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller
Founder/Private Wealth Advisor, Class of 1978
California State University, BS Communication, Minor in Business, 1983
College of Financial Planning, Denver, CO, Certified Financial Planner, 1994
At Rondout, Panaccione was active in football, both on the offensive and defensive line, track and field events were pole vault, discus and shot put, he was involved with his senior play, yearbook, student store, student council and skied recreationally.
In 1998, Panaccione founded Navigation Group, Wealth Planning and Management, a registered investment advisory firm. He and his firm partner with LPL Financial, the nation’s largest independent broker, support more than 4,000 team members. He has provided the financial advice, education, and services that have resulted in him being featured in such business media outlets as CNBC, Fox Business News, ABC News, NY Times, MSN Money, Barron’s, Businessweek, Worth and Bloomberg. A nationally acclaimed advisor, Panaccione appreciates the recognition that he has received, but finds his greatest achievement has been his clients’ trust and friendship.
Panaccione and his wife, Julie, have been actively involved in The Life You Can Save, a non-profit organization founded by Peter Singer, which is dedicated to reducing extreme poverty and its devastating effects on over 700 million people globally. They have raised over $200,000 for those living in extreme poverty. Together they have also been actively involved in fund-raising events for Saint Francis and Saint Nicholas Schools.
Panaccione has many interests which revolve around spending time with family and friends, they include entertaining, travel, wine, and skiing, as well as preparing the family recipes he learned during his childhood. He has been a youth coach for AYSO Soccer, basketball and Pony League baseball coach.
Personal Quote: “It’s kind of fun to do things that people tell you that you are incapable of doing.”
Civil and Water Resource Engineer, Class of 1983
University of New Hampshire, B.S. & M. S., Civil Engineering, 1983-1989
Colorado State University, Ph.D., Civil Engineering, 1989-1993
At Rondout Valley, Fiedler could be found on the soccer field, track and cross-country skiing. These physical activities contributed to a life-long love of outdoor athletics, including racing various sorts of triathlons, mountain biking, backcountry skiing and whitewater kayaking. Fiedler encourages everyone to play as much as they work.
Fiedler attended the University of New Hampshire, earning both his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering. His emphasis was in Water Resources, conducting research on measuring non-aqueous phase liquids in groundwater aquifers. While at Colorado State University he emphasized his studies in Hydrologic Science and Engineering. He developed a numerical model for simulating shallow water flow over non-homogeneous infiltrating surfaces.
Fiedler worked as a Water Resource Engineer in Colorado, where he developed numerical hydrologic forecasting systems for clients in the U.S., as well as, internationally.
He is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Idaho (UI), where he has earned several teaching awards, received grants in excess of five million dollars and has approximately 30 peer-reviewed publications. Fiedler is the co-founder of the interdisciplinary Water Resources Graduate Program. He founded and advises the UI Humanitarian Engineering Corps, a student group that develops potable water systems in partnership with the rural communities in Bolivia.
Personal Quote: “Oh little drop, oh little drop, let yourself go, and become the entire ocean.” Inspired by Rumi
Researcher in Children’s Language Development, Class of 1970
SUNY Buffalo, B.A. Speech Communication, 1973
Columbia University, M. A. Speech Pathology, 1974
University of Washington, Ph.D., Speech and Hearing Sciences, 1978
At Rondout, van Kleeck was a photographer and the editor-in-chief of the yearbook, played clarinet, and was a cheerleader for basketball and football. Her master’s and Ph.D. focused on understanding how young children learn language, as well as what can go awry in that most basic and important aspect of human learning. She has spent her career conducting research and teaching in these areas at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Georgia, and the University of Texas at Dallas.
Van Kleeck’s groundbreaking research has won national and international awards, culminating in the highest award given in her discipline. This 2018 honor was bestowed by the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association in recognition of her distinguished and clearly exceptional research contributions to the area of language science over the course of her career. She has published extensively, including four books – one of which was translated into Swedish – and nearly 75 book chapters and articles in research journals.
A sought-after speaker, van Kleeck has given hundreds of talks nationally and internationally. She is now dedicated to using the knowledge she gained throughout her career to help underprivileged preschoolers develop the higher-level language skills essential to their later academic success.
Anne continues to have a love of art and music, and she is an avid photographer – all lifelong passions launched while she was in high school.
Personal Quote: “To grow, create, stay flexible and open, expand your horizons, carve new paths, and stay in shape – become comfortable being uncomfortable.”
United States Army, Class of 2008
United States Army, 2008-2014
As a young boy, Farrell was interested in the Army and after the events of 9/11 he was more determined to be a soldier. He joined the Army as a junior in high school, where he completed his first boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia. After graduation, he attended boot camp and was assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, then on to Fort Drum in May 2010 where he would remain. Farrell was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from March 2011 to March 2012 and then again in November 2013.
On April 28, 2014, Farrell was killed in action in Afghanistan from wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was brought to Stewart Air Force Base where he was escorted home by The Patriot Riders and Rolling Thunder. A sad and grateful community lined the roads waving flags and saluting veterans; every overpass had a fire company at attention with the American Flag flying.
One year after Farrell’s passing, his family returned to Fort Drum to attend a ceremony where his wife, Allison and his mother Heather Stokes were presented with a Bronze Star with a “V” device, which is for valor.
Farrell’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Purple Heart just to name a few. Farrell will always be remembered as one who stood out, he will remain an inspiration to his brothers in his infantry squad and platoon, as well as, the Special Forces Operational Detachment 3112.
Quote: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died, we should thank God that such a man lived.” General George S. Patton
Entrepreneur & Health Club Owner, Class of 2001
Hofstra University, B.S., Finance 2006
At Rondout Valley, Sebald played football and basketball as a 3-year letterman on varsity and was a multi-year scholar athlete. He was the proud captain of the 2000 New York State Class B football championship team. His accolades from that year include being named the New York State Class B finals MVP, NYS Class B Player of the Year, 1st Team All-State, Daily Freeman and Middletown Record Player of the Year, and High School Heisman award in 2001.
Sebald attended the University of Miami lettering 3 years and was a member of the 2001 National Championship team. He transferred to Hofstra University in 2005 and completed his finance degree. In 2006, he was invited to Washington Redskins rookie minicamp.
His passion for fitness and business led him to became a Planet Fitness franchisee, with a goal to help as many people as possible get involved with fitness. His ownership group now has 55 locations in six states with over 385,000 members. He has been active on several franchise committees in real estate, marketing and member experience. He is currently the regional director over three states: Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. He is responsible for new store development, ensuring his employees live up to Planet Fitness’s core values, and coaching them to be future leaders. His company has an active partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of America, donating equipment and updating local clubs’ weight rooms. They also donate equipment, time and money to local police and fire departments to support their local communities.
Favorite Quote: “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?” – Henry Ford
Educator, Coach and Child Advocate, Class of 1973
Salem College, B.S. in Health and Physical Education, 1978 and New Paltz College, M.S. in Education, 1985
At Rondout Valley, Wiejaczkas’ athletic abilities were evident in softball, field hockey and volleyball. Upon receiving a volleyball scholarship, she attended Salem College in West Virginia where she earned her B.S. in Health and Physical Education.
After graduation, Wiejaczka returned home to Rondout Valley to teach, coach and work as an administrator until she retired in 2016. During her 32 years she coached field hockey, basketball, gymnastics, softball and volleyball. Her field hockey teams received Scholar Athlete Team for numerous years, five-time Section 9 Champion and a Regional Championship winner. She was selected Coach of the Year for field hockey in 1986. Her softball teams were successful winning UCAL and MHAL Championships.
In 1986, Wiejaczka organized a group now known as Helping Hands for Kids, which originally started to assist Rondout families in need of financial aid. It started as a walk-a-thon and has grown substantially over the years. Lisa was the owner and operator of Fresh Start/Fabulous Finish, a before and after school program that she offered for district families that need child care assistance. Founded in 2000, Lisa opened the program early in the morning and stayed until late afternoon. She involved the children in exercise and moving, giving out awards and prizes, making every child feel special and loved. She was an innovated and creative physical education teacher.
Wiejaczka is the recipient of several awards: Mary Lee Friends of Youth Award/ Town of Rochester Youth Commission, Tribute to Women-YMCA, Woman of the Year-Blue Stone Press, and the Thomas King Distinguished Service Award.
Favorite Quote: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” AESOP
Agricultural Entrepreneur, Class of 1983
Cornell University, Animal Science Degree, Deans List, 1987
At Rondout Valley, Kelder was a linebacker for the football team and a member of the National Honor Society. While at Cornell, he was named an Isaac Roberts Scholar, who was the first dean of Cornell University, in recognition of his outstanding high school career.
Kelder, is the owner of Kelder’s Farm, a NYS Bicentennial family farm, which transformed from a dairy farm to a destination. The farm specializes in U-Pick fruits and vegetables, farm market and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). This has become a family destination offering field trips, birthday parties, a petting zoo, bass fishing, a corn maze and miniature golf.
Kelder is very involved in public service. He is a past president of the Rondout Valley School Board, served on the Ulster County Agricultural Farmland Protection Board, Rural Schools Association Board and is a founding member of the Rondout Growers Association. He has held many offices in the Farm Bureau Federation at the county, state and national level, including the NY Board of Directors and the Audit Committee. He is a past winner of the New York Farm Bureau Discussion Meet and Achievement Award.
Among the many awards this business received are: Rondout Valley Common Ground “Signs of Sustainability” in 2013, Hudson Valley Kids Out and About.com, top 20 places for kids to visit 2016, Ulster County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Business of the Year, 2016, and the World’s Largest Garden Gnome- Guinness Book of World Records, 2009.
Favorite Quote: “From a tiny acorn, the mighty oak grows” English Proverb
Pulitzer Prize winning Photojournalist and Entrepreneur, Class of 1976
SUNY Ulster, A.A. Humanities, 1978 and Bradley University, B.S. Mass Communications and Art, Cum Laude, 1980
At Rondout Valley, Byer played field hockey, was active in Student Government, the French Club and was a photographer for the yearbook. She studied photography at SUNY Ulster where she received an A.A. degree in Humanities in 1978 and Bradley University earning her B.S. in Communications, graduating Cum Laude. She was inducted into the alumni Hall of Fame at both.
A charismatic teacher and speaker, Byer stirs audiences to see how unbiased journalism can raise awareness and affect change. In 2016, she was nominated for an Emmy for photography and field producing. She has been awarded dozens of international and national awards for her multimedia storytelling and her pictures have been published world-wide online and in print including Paris Match, Days Japan, Newsweek, National Geographic and The New York Times. She has been featured in local and national media including CBS Sunday Morning, NBC with Ann Curry and ABC with Bob Woodruff.
Byer founded Positive Change Can Happen, a 501(c)3 non-profit, that supports and maintains the educational and interactive traveling photography exhibition that stemmed from her internationally acclaimed book, “Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor”. As a senior photojournalist at the storied Sacramento Bee she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007 and was a finalist for the same prize in 2013.
Favorite Quote: “Unfairness in the human condition can only be remedied when people everywhere care.” 14th Dalai Lama
Automobile Entrepreneur and Inventor, Class of 1985
Cornell University, BSME 1989, MBA 1990
At Rondout Valley, Johnson spent three years on the Varsity soccer team and also participated in track and field. He was a member of the Yearbook, French Club, Math Team, and graduated second in his class. Johnson’s pre-professional career began while working in various positions at Johnson Ford in Kingston throughout middle and high school. In his senior year, he was dual enrolled at SUNY Ulster where he received 28 credits. At Cornell University, he completed undergraduate and graduate degree programs in five years and interned for one year with General Electric – Plastics Division in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Johnson’s professional career began at Ford Motor Company in Michigan where he remained for thirteen years. In his last position there, he was responsible for Super
Duty and Excursion Vehicle Engineering. In Frankfurt, Germany with General Motors, he was Chief Engineer and Program Manager for two diesel engines for high volume
passenger vehicles. At Navistar International in Chicago, he served as Vice President of Product Operations, where he led the development of MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles for our armed forces.
Since 2008, Johnson has been President and CEO of Achates Power, a company that has developed the cleanest, most efficient, and lowest cost internal combustion engines for passenger, commercial, and off-road vehicles. Raising more than $120 million in venture capital, Johnson established Achates Power as the leading developer of opposed-piston engines. He has built a comprehensive and global patent portfolio with 150 issued and 190 pending. Johnson leads a company that seeks to be the leader in clean transportation. He is charting the course for this company, having taken them from a small startup to a key player on the global engine development scene.
Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineer Rocket Scientist, Class of 2003
Purdue University, M.S., Aeronautical and Astronautical
Engineering 2009 At Rondout Valley, Stein could be found on the volleyball court, but her drive led to the completion of the Authentic Science Research Program. The foundations in research that she gained during her time at Rondout Valley have been a large asset in her pursuit of knowledge and work at NASA.
Since an early age, Stein always wanted to be an astronaut and chose her studies in college aiming for that goal. While at SUNY Buffalo, where she received her BS degree, she discovered a passion for understanding combustion and flow, i.e. building blocks for understanding the liquid engines that propel astronauts to the moon and beyond. Following this passion led Stein to a career at NASA.
Stein has spent her early career working on and testing liquid rocket engines, both as a test conductor at Stennis Space Center and currently as an engine systems engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. She is verifying which engines are viable for humans on the J-2X, RS-25, and Merlin engine programs as a part of the Ares, Space Launch System Rocket (SLS), and Commercial Crew Programs.
Stein volunteers her time working with children facilitating outreach activities in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. She also mentors young women interested in pursuing technical careers.
World Traveler and Adventurer, Class of 1975
United States Navy, 1975-1982
At Rondout Valley, Duff could be found playing soccer and running track. Upon graduating, Duff joined the US Navy, volunteering for the Navy Deep Sea Diving program. Extending his initial three year enlistment, he received advanced diver training in salvage operations, submarine rescue, mixed gas operations, and diving supervisor qualifications. Duff was awarded several letters of commendation for various operations during his seven year enlistment.
After being honorably discharged, Duff continued his interest in the sea and explored the limits of personal achievements in that environment. His love for the sea led to exploring the world from the cockpit of a sea kayak. Since l983, he has paddled over 18,000 miles on six major expeditions around the world. Duff has taught sea kayaking throughout the United States and Britain and has written two award winning books: On Celtic Tides and Southern Exposure. Both have received the National Outdoor Book award. Southern Exposure also won the Banff Mountain Book Festival grand prize and the Benjamin Franklin Award.
Duff moved on to ocean rowing, completing the first solo row from mainland Scotland to Iceland and is presently writing a book on this adventure. Duff owns and operates a construction business and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and Memmonite Disaster Service. He has a gift of storytelling woven with his kayaking adventures and life philosophy.
Personal Quote: “Any challenge is an opportunity for growth. Courage is accepting that challenge.”
Conservation Policy Professional Sportsmen's Advocate
Bard College, M.S. Environmental Policy, Cum Laude, 2011
At Rondout Valley, Miller was actively involved in the band and choir. He participated in the Model Organization of American States which taught Miller to analyze policy documents, develop debate skills and successfully advocate for policy positions – all skills he utilizes on a daily basis. Miller attended SUNY Ulster, where he achieved two Associate Degrees in Individual Studies and Criminal Justice. At SUNY New Paltz, he completed his B.A. in Sociology (Criminology concentration), graduating with honors. At Bard College, he redirected his education to his primary passion of conservation and environmental issues. While at Bard, he also attained his Professional Development Certificate from The Wildlife Society. Miller was recently promoted to Senior Director, Northeastern States, of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. In this role he recruited eight governors to join the bipartisan Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus, formed bipartisan legislative sportsmen’s caucuses in three states, and formed the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council. Miller has been appointed to the National Wildlife Services Advisory Council as well as the Maryland Sportsmen’s Marketing Initiative. He received a legislative citation from the Massachusetts legislature for his dedication to sportsmen’s issues, and was awarded the 2015 Suppressor Advocate of the Year by the American Suppressor Association. Miller is a respected member of the conservation, political, and social communities to which he belongs. People in these communities (local, state and federal) know him to be a responsible, respectful and knowledgeable man, who will explore all options without compromising his core values.
Favorite Quote: “The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.” –Theodore Roosevelt
Award Winning Mechanical Engineer, Class of 1993
Georgia Institute of Technology, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering 2008
At Rondout Valley, Malak could be found on the athletic fields pursuing his love of sports and, during his senior year, at SUNY Ulster taking college courses. After high school, he continued at SUNY Ulster and graduated with an A.S. in Engineering Science. He furthered his formal education at SUNY Stony Brook (B.E. in Electrical Engineering), Carnegie Melon University (M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering), and the Georgia Institute of Technology where he earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering.
Currently, Malak serves as a Program Director for the National Science Foundation, where he oversees basic research in the areas of engineering design and systems engineering. He also holds an academic appointment at Texas A&M University, where he is an Associate Professor and directs the Design Systems Laboratory. At any given time, up to a dozen graduate and undergraduate students conduct research in the lab under Malak’s direction. He has published nearly 100 peer reviewed journal articles and conference papers with his students in areas such as complex systems design and engineering optimization. He has received numerous awards recognizing his teaching and research contributions.
Malak has made consistent and thoughtful contributions to the greater community. He has, among other things, volunteered for the American Cancer Society, raised funds for and assisted in building houses for Habitat for Humanity, and fostered rescue dogs. However, most of his service is for his university and professional community through activities such as peer review and organizing conferences and workshops.
Legal Advisor for the Office of Inspector General, USA Advocate for the People with Disabilities, Class of 1985
SUNY Albany, Bachelor in Business Administration, 1989 - Magna Cum Laude Georgetown University School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1993
At Rondout Valley, she participated in field hockey, track and basketball; was the first-chair clarinet in the band; acted in the school play; and was Vice President of her sophomore class. The summer before her junior year, she was in an accident that left her a quadriplegic, forcing her to miss most of that year. Despite that, she still graduated with her class and was selected to present the commencement address.
Denkensohn served as the Senior Advisor for Public Health Oversight in the Health and Human Services Office and as legal advisor to four Presidentially-appointed Inspector Generals. Her responsibilities included budget, strategic planning, oversight of the Affordable Care Act and coordination and planning of oversight activities for over 300 programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. She has received many awards for her work.
She is a member of the District of Columbia and Virginia Bar Associations and the Rockefeller College Advisory Board; serves on the board of her local Center for Independent Living and the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia; and as a breast cancer survivor, actively fundraises for the American Cancer Society.
In 2015, she and her husband started Happy on Wheels, whose goal is to inspire others to happier lives through motivational speaking, coaching, mentoring and community out-reach. She was chosen as a model in the Bold Beautiful Project, an innovative visual arts event showcasing women who dare to expose their disabilities. In facing the photographer’s lens, they uncover their beauty, sensuality and strength. Her advice is simple “It’s not what happens to you in life it is how you handle it”.
Marketing Expert and Entrepreneur, Class of 1986
Houghton College: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1990 Regent University: Masters of Arts in Management, 1992
At Rondout Valley, being dyslexic, Fisher admits academic achievements were elusive, but extracurricular activities offered her ideal opportunities which helped prepare her as both a manager and leader. As President of the Video and Drama Clubs, she created an annual lip-sync contest which were the largest student fundraisers of their day.
Upon graduating college, Fisher began in broadcast and television media, first working at a subsidiary of the Family Channel and later at Atlanta based Cox Enterprises. She won numerous national awards for her marketing and promotional programs for Viacom Networks (MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, TV Land), Discovery Networks and for advancing the strategic positioning of the cable advertising industry.
In 2000, she became Chief Marketing Officer at the Direct Marketing division of Cox Target Media in Florida. There she led the growth of Valpak: a blue envelope that annually delivered over 20 billion coupons across North America. She then was recruited by Entertainment Publications, where she championed using coupons to assist schools and non-profit organizations raise funds. As the Chief Executive Officer, she helped 80,000 businesses deliver offers which helped 25,000 non-profit organizations raise over 2.5 billion dollars for their school and organizational programs. Today Fisher is sought out as a keynote speaker on marketing and management topics.
As CEO of Peak Road Partners, named after the street she lived on in Stone Ridge, she and her team of consultants help businesses achieve breakthrough business results. Her favorite quote “Whatever you are, be a good one” – Abraham Lincoln
Child Welfare Administrator, Class of 1975
Princeton University, BA, Honors graduate in Psychology, 1979 and University of Minnesota, MN, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, 1985
Sanders was a running back for the Rondout Valley Ganders football team. Sanders spent his career working to improve child welfare systems focusing on safety and reducing the number of children in foster care. This started in Hennepin County, Minnesota where he was Senior Clinical Psychologist, Chief Clinical Psychologist and then for 10 years, Director of the Family and Adult Services Department. He then took the position of Director of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, serving 22,000 children in foster care and overseeing a staff of 6,000. In 2006 he became Executive Vice-President for Systems Improvement for Casey Family Programs, whose mission is to improve and ultimately prevent the need for foster care. Sanders continues to provide strategic direction over the Foundation’s work.
In 2003, he received the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award; in 2005, the Princeton Club of Southern California’s Service to the Community Award; in 2007, the Peter W. Forsythe Award for Leadership in Public Child Welfare from the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrations; and in 2008 the Grace B. Flandreau Award recognizing his significant contributions to juvenile justice.
In 2013, he was appointed by President Obama to a key administrative post as chair of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. He established the R. D. Sanders Scholarship Fund in honor of his father who instilled in him the value of education. The first award will be presented in 2016 to a student facing hardships in obtaining an education in order to ease the path for a young person looking to better his or her life.
Favorite quote: “Genius is one percent inspiration 99 percent perspiration”- Thomas Edison
TV Executive, Writer for TV and Film, Educator, Class of 1970
Rider College, BA, Secondary Education and Social Studies, 1974
At Rondout Valley, Ryder was freshman class President and student council representative for 3 years; was in band for 5 years; was the lead in musical productions for 3 years; co-chaired the first Earth Day events; and co-chaired the senior forum.
While in college, Ryder spent most of his free time working with the Bijou Theater, a student run group, and was Associate Director of several productions. This group did a performance at the Felt Forum, a part of Madison Square Garden, with renowned Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Ryder held many TV executive positions, from Casting Director to Vice President, for daytime programs for NBC Entertainment and Vice President for Movies for Television for MGM Television. At NBC, he supervised daytime dramas including Days of Our Lives, Another World and Search for Tomorrow. Ryder then switched his emphasis to writing. He was Head Associate Writer for Loving (ABC Television) and Riviera (European Dramatic Serial); Co-Head Writer for Guiding Light (CBS Television) for which he received two Emmy® Awards and Executive Story Editor for Dynasty (ABC Television) where he wrote long-term story projections and the majority of story outlines. He also served as story consultant for various daytime dramas including One Life to Live and All My Children (ABC Entertainment), and was the creator, writer for Rising Star, a proposed episodic series developed for South African TV.
Ryder began a career in academia as Associate Professor and Director of the Writing for Film/TV Program at the University for the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, a program he developed and launched. In 2007, he became Deputy Dean of the College of Media and Communication at the University of the Arts, and he concluded his career there as Associate Dean of the College of Art, Media and Design, 2011-2015.
Favorite quote: "Go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is." - Jimmy Carter.
Animatronic Designer and Performer, Class of 1974
SUNY Ulster, Associate in Arts, 1976
SUNY Albany, Bachelor of Arts, 1978
While at Rondout, Tim expanded his love of art and music. He began his work with puppets in earnest at SUNY Ulster. He found he could act, direct, sculpt, construct, create, and do it all by choosing a career in puppetry.
Upon graduating from SUNY Albany, Tim held many jobs from building sets to theater lighting, but his big break came when he landed a job with Jim Henson's Muppets in New York City. There he built props and puppet rigs for The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. This skill set would later become known as Animatronic Design.
Most of Tim's work for The Muppets took place in England. His credits include Animatronic Design for The Great Muppet Caper and The Dark Crystal. Tim was then loaned by Henson to George Lucas back in the States where he was a featured animatronic designer and puppeteer in Return of the Jedi. There he performed in the three roles of Admiral Akbar, Salacious Crumb and Sy Snootles. The movie received the “Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects” at the 1984 Academy Awards.
Returning to England, Tim worked on such notable projects as Return to Oz, Labyrinth, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Muppets Christmas Carol and most recently Muppets Again. In addition, his expertise has been showcased in numerous commercials and TV shows, the best known being Teletubbies. Tim continues to live and work in England.
“Life is time, ticking away. The earth it’s movement, day for day. The heart it’s rhythm, to show the way.”
Urban Social Policy Advocate, Class of 1991
Stanford University, BA in Anthropology and Social Sciences, 1996 University of California at Berkeley, Master of City Planning, 2003 Yale Law School, Juris Doctor, 2003
Greene was an AP scholar and an active participant in sports and extra-curricular activities at Rondout Valley. In his freshman year he was awarded a Youth For Understanding scholarship for summer study in Japan. In his junior year he represented Rondout Valley at the 1990 Model Organization of American States (MOAS) and was voted Best Delegate that year.
Greene worked for several years in city government and for a non-profit developer to increase affordable housing opportunities in San Francisco. After law school and clerking for a federal appellate judge, Greene conducted research on strategies to promote affordable homeownership and increase credit access for under served borrowers at the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. He taught courses on critical issues in contemporary urban policy and continues to serve as an adjunct professor at the University teaching land use at NYU.
Working at Open Society Foundations, he led a national grant program to increase affordable housing and access to credit. Greene then served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he helped strengthen federal policies to reduce residential segregation and promote regional housing opportunities. Greene has served on the board of directors for several non-profits, including the Neighborhood Funders Group, where he co-chaired the organization’s housing policy working group.
He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, a social and economic policy think tank based in Washington DC, where his research focuses on improving city design and management in a rapidly urbanizing world.
“Enough is a feast”— Buddhist proverb
Media Communications Entrepreneur, Class of 1987
Hope College, BA 1991
At Rondout, Peck was very active in choir, band, and musical productions. In the summer of her junior year, she was selected to tour Europe through six countries with the Youth of America Choir. When she wasn’t in the music wing, she could be found on the volleyball court and softball field. Peck grew up at Williams Lake Hotel, her family’s resort, and learned the significance of being hospitable at a young age and lived by the mantra "treat others how you want to be treated.”
Peck made her way to Silicon Valley to join the start-up tech world. She is one of the first team members of Banjo, a technology that organizes the world’s social media posts by location, providing the ability to see what’s happening anywhere in the world in real time. She has helped Banjo grow to a global presence with millions of users by opening doors and developing relationships with top brands and organizations such as NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, The TODAY Show, Oreo, Samsung and Bud Light for the Super Bowl. She has been featured in the book Living With Enthusiasm.
Peck sits on two committees with the Application Developers Alliance, which helps shape public policy and industry issues. She also serves on the Advisory Board for South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, a festival which has earned the reputation for being the breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies. Her biggest joy is being a mentor for Students Rising Above, an organization committed to helping students in under-served communities attend and graduate college. Her advice is simple.
“Be humble, a lot was accomplished before you were born.”
Family Physician, Class of 1974
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1977, B.S. Biology with Honors University of Buffalo Medical School, 1982, Medical Doctor Degree Family Residence Practice Certification, 1983, Board Certified Family Doctor
Deleo led the way as the first Rondout Valley senior to attend SUNY Ulster while still in high school. She was a varsity, softball, field hockey and basketball player, and was active on the Math Team and Yearbook staff. She volunteered over 1,000 hours as a Candy Striper at Ellenville Regional Hospital, initiating her interest in medicine. In addition to all of the above, she was the Salutatorian for the class of 1974. Following medical school, Dr. Deleo was Chief Resident in her third year for Ulster County Rural Family Practice Residency Program. Returning even more directly to her roots, she then set up and began her personal practice in Kerhonkson, N.Y. There, she became a fierce advocate for all of her patients regardless of their age, race, religion or economic circumstance. Dr. Rose, as she has come to be called, has maintained her practice in our valley and also Kingston, N.Y. for over thirty years, expanding it to employ over 20 members. In 2013 she was voted “Best Family Medicine Practice” by subscribers of the Kingston Freeman. In addition to her practice, Dr. Rose has donated her time and expertise to a number of volunteer groups including the Kerhonkson VFW, MADD, American Family Practitioners, Carve for a Cause and the Kerhonkson Volunteer Ambulance Squad.
One of her favorite expressions is, “Never let yesterday use up today”.
Corporate Lawyer and Child Advocate, Class of 1978
University of Virginia, BA History, 1982 Albany Law School of Union University, Juris Doctor, 1985
While at Rondout, Collins was a scholar athlete and, as such, was a member of the Varsity Golf, JV/ Varsity Football, and Varsity Ski teams for four years. In addition, he played the French Horn in the High School Band, and was named to the NYS All-State, NYS Sectional, and Ulster County High School Bands. He was recognized at commencement by the American Legion as the “outstanding male athlete” and for “high qualities of courage, leadership, honor, service and scholarship.”
While at Virginia, Collins lettered in Varsity Golf and graduated with Honors. He was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Honor Roll for four years in recognition of “outstanding academic achievement during athletic participation”. In 1985, Collins graduated Cum Laude from Albany Law School where he served as Managing Editor of the Albany Law Review, receiving the Scribes Award for an outstanding published article.
Collins is a senior partner in the New York office of Covington & Burling LLP, one of the most prestigious international law firms in the country. As a corporate/transactional lawyer at Covington, Collins’ legal practice concentrates on financings, acquisitions and project development in the energy industry. Since 2009, Collins has been on the Board of Trustees of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, the national charity promoting court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children across the country, better known as CASA. In 2014, Collins became President of the Board of CASA.
“It’s a funny thing, the more I practice, the luckier I get.”— Arnold Palmer
National Environmental and Energy Advisor, Class of 1970
University of Rochester, BS Environmental Studies, 1974
George Washington Law School, Juris Doctor, 1977
Jacobson was Junior Class President and a member of the Student Council. She developed and spearheaded the first National Earth Day celebration at Rondout Valley in the spring of 1970. Early concern for the environment has led her to a career in the fields of energy and environmental law and policy for more than 30 years. Jacobson has served as an advisor in both the legislative and executive branches of the Federal government. These assignments included work as a Counsel to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and as a legislative aide to a member of the Committee. In addition, Jacobson served as a special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Energy and a senior advisor in the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Since 2002, Jacobson has taught Energy Law at the GW Law School and worked as an independent consultant on energy and climate issues. She was a founding member of the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment in 1981 and currently serves as a Member of the Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative. Jacobson served the GW Solar Institute as Co-Director from 2009 to 2010. Jacobson is a member of the Bar in both New York and Washington, D.C.
Urban Farmer Entrepreneur, Class of 1999
American University, BA, Communications, 2003
Carnegie Mellon University, MS, Public Policy and Administration, 2009
Pezzino was class president all four years; editor of the school paper, the captain of the school blood drives and co-captain of the championship 1998 field hockey team. She was a member of the National Honor Society and participated in chorus, band and jazz band. While growing up in the Rondout Valley, Pezzino gained a love and respect for farming and food from an early age. This, along with her participation in leadership roles from high school through college may have been harbingers for her promotion to Executive Director of Grow Pittsburgh in 2009. Grow Pittsburgh, an urban agriculture nonprofit based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, promotes food production and education in the region through the development of urban farms and gardens, an Edible Schoolyard program for children, agriculture-based educational employment opportunities for youth and young adults, and classes for all ages. Since Pezzino began managing the organization the staff size and budget have more than tripled. Pezzino cofounded PGH Party for a Purpose in 2008, a fund raising organization financially supporting various Pittsburgh not-for-profits, and was board member and Secretary for Pittsburgh Cares. In 2012 Pezzino was selected as one of Pittsburgh's “40 under 40”, an honor bestowed upon the top 40 civic contributors under 40 years of age in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.
Opera Singer and Music Entrepreneur, Class of 1978
Hartt School of Music, BA Music, 1982
While attending Rondout Valley, Kelly sang in the chorus and played trumpet in many concerts throughout his school years. He participated in the New York State School Music (NYSSMA) competitions for 8 years in a row. When Kelly began his music career he performed an eclectic mix of rock, pop, folk and jazz, fronting bands with names like Legend, Black Dog and Guilded Spice. It wasn’t until he went to college that the operatic potential of his voice was discovered. His light lyric tenor has been in worldwide demand ever since. Kelly has sung with many of the world's most prestigious opera companies including the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, and the historic La Scala in Milan, Italy. In 2003 Kelly launched the Walking Oliver children's music label, a unique move for an opera singer. Within a year the label won the National Parenting Publications Award in the children's music category for the CD “Hello Michael Rosen”. Other milestone recordings for Walking Oliver include “Unleashed on British Isles”, a fresh interpretation of British folk tunes sung by Kelly; and “Dreams”, a compilation of music and vocals for poems composed by primary school children from across the UK who were chosen as winners of the first Walking Oliver Poetry in Song Contest.
International Sports Entrepreneur and Coach, Class of 1979
SUNY Ulster, AA, Humanities and Social Sciences, 1982 University of South Florida, 1982-83
Byer started his soccer career at Rondout Valley HS where he was named Mid-Hudson Player of the Year and led the team to 2 league championships. He continued to play soccer at SUNY Ulster, then at USF and participated in the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival. Byer trained with the Tampa Rowdies and Leighton FC in England before becoming the first American soccer player to play in Asia by signing with Hitachi FC (currently Kashiwa Reysol). In 1989, upon retiring professionally, Byer started a company called Kix International focusing on youth soccer training. He went on to develop a highly successful Youth Clinic Program for Nestle Japan that ran for 10 years and was awarded the “Adidas Golden Ball Award” in 1998 at the World Cup Draw in Marseille, France for his outstanding contribution to Grass Roots Soccer Worldwide. In 1993 Byer introduced the Coerver Coaching Program, traveling throughout Asia conducting clinics for National Football Federations to help improve and encourage youth development and to establish over 120 technical s chools throughout Japan for children. In 1998 Byer was cast in the “Tom-san’s Soccer Techniques” Corner, which ran on Japanese television for 13 years. Byer started his own T3 academy in 2007 focusing on training clinics and on creating multimedia platforms for the delivery of specific programs for youth football development across the entire Asian region.
Educator and Administrator, Class of 1973
St. Lawrence University, BS, Psychology and Sociology, 1977 Harvard Graduate Sch., M. Ed., Counseling Psychology, 1979 Duke University, MALS, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, 1997
Hall played field hockey, basketball, volleyball and softball. She was a member of the National Honor Society and had the lead role in the High School Senior Play. Hall's career in private education took her from Jamaica, to the Near East, to numerous schools along the U.S. coast, to the Midwest and back. Her positions of leadership in independent school education include the Hutchison School, Miss Hall’s School, the Culver Girls Academy, head of the Culver Academies, the Savannah Country Day School, and the Stoneleigh-Burnham School. She also taught at the International School in Saudi Arabia. She is currently Head of the Emma Willard School in Troy, NY, President of the Board of Trustees of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools (NCGS) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Leadership Center. Hall also led the initial conceptualization for AUDACIA, The Global Forum for Girls’ Education, which is designed to garner resources for programs and practices that hold promise for eradicating the barriers—poverty, violence and prejudice—that prevent some ninety million girls from receiving a quality education or any education at all. Emma Willard School is the founding sponsor for the Forum.
845-687-2400 Ext. 4201
Hall of Pride inductees are role models for Rondout students. These alumni have demonstrated and forwarded our goals for graduates to be critical thinkers, self-directed learners, effective communicators, collaborative, and community service oriented.
Specifically, Hall of Pride inductees are alumni who have shown exceptional work in the following areas:
1. Personal Accomplishment – The inductee has accomplished a significant or exceptional goal that warrants acknowledgement. Examples include patriotic service, sports, fine arts, philanthropy, overcoming adversity to gain education, et cetera.
2. Entrepreneurial and professional accomplishment – The inductee has made a significant contribution to his/her field including advanced degrees, leadership positions and/or responsibilities, published works, professional honors or awards.
3. Academic achievement- The inductee has achieved exceptional academic work that reflects the schools goals for rigor, collaboration and articulation.
4. Community /school service- The inductee has made consistent and thoughtful contributions to the local and/or greater community including service, clubs, honors and awards.
5. Leadership: The inductee has exemplified leadership by spearheading collaborative efforts toward a common goal.