The Best Community Services and Community-Minded Workers in the Hudson Valley

photo by rush jagoe

Socially Conscious Farmer

Leah Penniman

Penniman is a national leader in the movements to improve healthy food access in black and brown communities and to empower black and brown people through land ownership and dignified farming. In the past year, her voice and mission have been magnified: Her book, Farming While Black, was published, and she won various regional and national awards, including Hudson Valley’s Women in Business and a James Beard Leadership Award (one of only five winners in the nation).


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Autism Awareness Collaboration

Village of Rhinebeck & Anderson Center for Autism

The Staatsburg-based Anderson Center for Autism — which works to optimize the quality of life for people with autism by offering educational, vocational, and residential services — recently helped the village of Rhinebeck gain designation as the first Autism Supportive Community in the region. Anderson and Rhinebeck secured commitments from more than 50 businesses and organizations who pledged to “Do1Thing” to be more accommodating to people with autism and their families. Here’s hoping more towns and villages follow suit.

Rhinebeck and Stattsburg,

Community Builder

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh

Community is made of relationships: shared experiences, shared goals, and shared spaces. Habitat brings people together to construct houses, homes, and neighborhoods, building community in the process. To date, almost 100 families have earned a dignified home and an attractive Newburgh neighborhood through Habitat’s model of sweat equity.

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Community Center

Newburgh Armory Unity Center

By partnering with organizations like the Newburgh City School District, the City of Newburgh Police Department, and SUNY New Paltz, the Newburgh Armory has succeeded in bringing numerous programs and services to residents. Among the programs hosted at the Armory are ESOL classes, a criminal justice workshop for middle schoolers, and pick-up soccer for adults, youth, and women.


Community-Minded Realtor

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Richard Ellis

Since 2016, Richard Ellis’ real estate brokerage firm — Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty and Ellis Realty Commercial in Nyack — has been collaborating with the Edward Hopper Museum & Study Center to raise funds for arts education programs in Rockland, Westchester, and Orange county schools. To date, their annual gala has raised more than $80,000. Along with other diverse local community efforts, his team also raised $6,000 last year to build a hurricane-resistant house for a family in Labodrie, Haiti.


Networking for Newbies

Hudson Valley Young Professionals

Now with more than 800 members, Hudson Valley Young Professionals gives members the opportunity to hone professional skills, participate in charity events, and broaden their social circles. Best of all? Membership isn’t limited to age; anyone who is early to mid-level in their career can join.


Photo by Silvia Forni

Resource for Future Filmmakers

Stockade Works

Beth Davenport and actress Mary Stuart Masterson set out in 2016 to create an ecosystem for film and TV production in the Hudson Valley. With workforce development programs — crew boot camps, workshops, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training — the nonprofit has trained more than 80 local residents and referred graduates to more than 60 paid production projects in the region. Their goal is to train 100 crewmembers a year and create more than 2,000 jobs by 2021.


photo by dorice arden

River Educators

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc.

Pete Seeger and friends built the 106-foot sloop Clearwater that set sail in 1969 to raise awareness of Hudson River pollution — and lo, these many decades later, a team of educators and volunteers are still at it, sailing from New York City to Albany to teach school groups, event attendees, and the general public about environmental health, biodiversity, and life on the water.


Zero Waste Service and Educators

Zero to Go

Zero to Go’s trio of colorful barrels can be spotted at events around the Valley alongside an approachable composting educator. Through managing waste at events large and small, educating the public, and collecting private homeowner scraps (via bicycle) they have diverted many dozens of tons of would-be trash — banana peels, popsicle sticks, brown paper bags — into either the recycling stream or their stock of rich, nutritious compost that benefits local farms.


Readers’ Picks


Ian Flanigan



Linda Zimmerman






Paul Rudd



Christopher James DJs

Poughkeepsie, Pleasant Valley

Find them on Facebook


Rhianna Mirabello


High School Teacher

Catherine Ciocchi

Wappingers Falls



Antonio Delgado

Hudson, Kingston

Marcus Molinaro


Radio Personality

Simon WRRV



Ian Flanigan


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