Champions of the Poughkeepsie Riverfront revitalization.
The Poughkeepsie Riverfront Partnership was formed as a group of engaged citizens partnering for the future of Poughkeepsie's waterfront. We are here to help educate the public about the rich history of the river, issues facing our shared waterfront, upcoming events,
and ways to become involved.
Anyone is welcome to join to support these efforts. There are no costs or requirements to join. Visit our Opportunities page to see
HOW you can get involved!
In the future, we will be here to support events on the waterfront, beautification efforts, and investments to make Poughkeepsie's waterfront an unparalleled destination for residents and visitors.
Robert Phillips attended Pace University in 1962, followed by the National Guard, from 1963-1969
In 1971 Phillips attended Brown University Graduate School of Banking & Investments and graduated in 1973. From 1973-1991, Phillips served as the Divisional Vice President and administrator of 15 Savings Bank branch offices. In 1991 Phillips transitioned to an investment advisor until retirement in 2020 from Wells Fargo Advisors as First Vice President, Investment Officer.
Phillips career was marked with high recognition and awards including recognition as a Premier Advisor and member of the Executive Counsel Community Service. Robert, after 40 years of service, continues as a Rotarian and past President of the Rhinebeck Rotary Club. During his tenure, he was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship award for Service Above Self. In 2015, as a Rotarian, he volunteered to administer oral Polio prevention vaccines to children under the age of five in remote villages along the Ivory Coast region of West Africa.
President & Co-Founder
Dr. Mark Villanti has served as an educator for 40 years and a school superintendent for 17 years. He retired as superintendent of the Spackenkill Union Free School District and Haldane CSD. Villanti stewarded several energy performance contracts including two district-wide solar projects which produce over 90% of district electrical needs. Both Haldane and Spackenkill’s high schools achieved the US Education Department’s Blue- Ribbon status. Dr. Villanti has also worked in public education as a guidance counselor, guidance director and high school principal.
Dr. Villanti has served as the chair of the Capital District Association of School District Administrators (CASDA) and the Mid-Hudson School Study Council. In 2012 he was recognized as the Katie O’Donnell Award of Excellence by the Cold Spring Area
Chamber of Commerce. Villanti currently serves on the Board of the Dutchess / Orange County United Way.
Mark Villanti has lived in Dutchess County for all but six years of his adult life with his wife of 50 years, Elizabeth. His two children were born and raised in Rhinebeck, NY. He has resided in Poughkeepsie City for the last 14 years.
Executive Vice President
Olympia served as the Regional Vice President for Bank of New York Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer for the former Poughkeepsie Savings Bank.
Olympia is currently a managing Partner of Stratrgic Alliance, LLC--a consulting company providing services to the Financial Industry.
Over the years, Olympia has served on Planning Boards and Zoning Boards in other communities.
He is currently serving on the Boards of The Purple Heart Honor Mission and a Hudson Valley area Symphony Orchestra
Life long sailor having sailed the entire East Coast and the Hudson River.
Olympia is one of the original owners at Hudson Pointe, here in Poughkeepsie. Peter's vision aligns with PRP, as he sees the waterfront as one of the few remaining strategic opportunities to assist in making Poughkeepsie great again.
Elyse Joy has been a resident of the Hudson Valley since 1986, and a Poughkeepsie resident since 1992.
She began her science teaching career in Spackenkill over 25 years ago, and is committed to teaching her students about the estuary, biodiversity and human impact. She is also a certified teacher in yoga, Qi Gong, and face yoga. When not working, she enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, and walking with on the riverfront with her children and her dog Annie.
She has served on the board of Taconic Resources for Independence, is an advocate for the deaf community in Poughkeepsie, and is excited to be part of the Riverfront Development Partnership.
Slade works in the nonprofit world, as a Community Development Manager, for Hudson River Housing, Inc. As a resident of Poughkeepsie, he is very active within the community, searching for access to opportunities and developing programs for the youth at risk in the inner city. As a 37 year old father of two children (Makenzie and Jayse) this is incredibly important to him. Slade has dedicated years to the community collaboration for change and intentional development for under-served neighborhoods.Slade has dedicated his life is to making our neighborhoods safer and a place for thriving businesses and growth, that his own children can benefit from, as they get older.
Dave graduated from Wagner College in 1962 with a major in business administration. He founded the Blacktop Maintenance Corp, RCT and Route 82 Sand and Gravel.
Dave has been involved in the Poughkeepsie community over the years through organizations including The United Way, Salvation Army, Vassar Hospital Board of Directors, Boys Scouts of America Hudson Valley Council Board Member, Dutchess Community College Foundation Board, Duchess County Resource Recovery Agency board, Poughkeepsie Chamber of Commerce and original member of the Poughkeepsie Alliance.
Dave's family is a true "born and bred" Poughkeepsie family with his grandfather being born on Livingston Street in 1884, three years prior to Vassar Hospital opening.
Dana Gavin is the director of the Writing Center at Dutchess Community College. She is writing her dissertation on nineteenth-century British crime serials, and volunteers for the Northeast Popular & American Culture Association's annual conference.
Her most current research involves the role of generative AI in higher education, particularly with respect to writing
and composition. She lives in the City of Poughkeepsie with her partner, Brian, and is owned by two cats.
Advisors to the Board
Joanne H. Gavin is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Professor of Management. Dr. Gavin earned her BS in Business Administration and MBA at the University of New Orleans and her PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington. She has written books on executive heath and the role of women in the workplace. Dr. Gavin’s research appears in the Academy of Management Journal, the Journal of Applied Psychology and Organization Dynamics. In her role as Associate Dean, she heads up the School of Management Career Trek and coaches the Ethics Team.
Dr. Joann Gavin
Advisor to the Board
Dr. David Gavin is an Associate Professor of Management at Marist College, where he teaches courses in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship. He received his doctorate from the University at Albany in 2010 and his research focuses on governance, leadership, entrepreneurship, CEO and board power. He has published articles in several journals, including The International Journal of Organizational Behavior and Theory, The Journal of Business and Economic Studies, and the International Academy of Business and Economics. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Gavin spent 25 years leading organizations in various industries, including food service, software technology, publishing, and manufacturing/retail.
Dr. David Gavin
Advisor to the Board
Steven is the owner and operator of Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland NY. Steve joined his family's operation upon college graduation in 1980, coming on as the Food and Beverage Director. Within five years, Steve earned the title of Director of Operations, and in the fall of 2001, Steve and his wife Shelley purchased the entire operation from his father and uncle. To this day, Steve and Shelley continue to make Rocking Horse one of America’s premier family destinations. Under their leadership, the Ranch earns outstanding reviews, awards, and has gone through a complete investment transformation, including upgrades and improvements such as Big Splash Indoor Water Park (with signature 250 foot Gold Rush water flume), state-of-the-art snowmaking system, new ski lift, beautiful gardens, continual guest room renovations, and new dining facilities.
Advisor to the Board
Sarah Brannen graduated from Barnard College with a degree in political science in 2001. In 2007 she concluded her Masters of Public Policy from John Hopkins. Sarah served on the Poughkeepsie Common Council as the vice-chair from 2018 - 2021. Her key initiatives have included creating a land bank, municipal tree planting, preserving waterfront space for public access, historic preservation, reforming IDA tax credits, and ensuring waterfront planning includes climate resilience policies.
Sarah is currently serving as the director at Sawkill Center for Sustainable Food Systems in Kingston NY.
Advisor to the Board
Fred Schaeffer is an attorney and local historian. He is most recognized for his leadership in creating the Walkway Over The Hudson, what it is today. In 1993, he formed this group in order to convert the mile long abandoned railroad bridge into a useable path for the public to cross the Hudson River. In January 2004, Fred was named chairman of the organization. The Walkway over the Hudson was opened to the public in October of 2009. Fred was one of the first people to cross the bridge, in honor of all of his hard work and dedication. Over the past 20 years, Fred has faithfully gone and opened the bridge at daybreak, in order to be able to share the wonders of Hudson Sunrises with any who want an early morning stroll, high above the water with the morning sun, brightening a new day.
Fred has been a life-long area resident. He is an avid biker, which he has passed that love down to his children, who also ride.
Advisor to the Board /Historian
Sarah Jacoby is a Senior Partner and Founder of the Hudson Valley based consultancy firm, The Queen Maker. Jacoby started her career in 2003 as a Junior Graphic Designer for Gannett Newspapers and worked her way up to Executive Creative Director in the corporate world by the age of 26. In 2009 she entered the social media networking world and has helped Hudson Valley businesses, large and small, to grow their business and bottom line, leveraging social media presence and marketing.
In her down time, Jacoby enjoys ballet, painting and riding dirt bikes. Jacoby has been a Hudson Valley resident for 18 years.
Social Media Consultant