“I’ve never let myself stay within the boundaries of my job description,” says Erin Riley, who started at Scenic Hudson in a junior annual-giving position and, over the course of 20 years, rose to her current post as senior vice president of the nonprofit. “I’ve taken advantage of opportunity for professional growth, acquiring new skills, even if it wasn’t part of the original job.”
When her career began there, “I wouldn’t have considered myself knowledgeable on environmental issues. But I love what I do. I can still say I learn something new every day.”
Scenic Hudson oversees 43 active parks, plus conservation of countless acres of land and farms; the nonprofit preserves some of the most beautiful sites in the Hudson Valley. If Riley had to pick a favorite, it would be Foundry Dock Park in Cold Spring: “Storm King Mountain and all its majesty is in front of you, and the river…When you’re out there, the chaos of the train and everything behind you just melts away.”
What is your secret to success?
“Don’t limit yourself by defining yourself. The need to know what to be right out of college is so limiting and so stressful. It’s about evolving throughout your entire life.”
Her daughter and granddaughter keep Riley grounded, and she’s grateful that Scenic Hudson is a family-friendly organization. “There are more women in the workforce now with significant job responsibilities, and I’m not certain society as a whole has made it easier for them,” she explains. “I applaud companies that embrace flex time.”
What’s next for Riley? The Capital Region native, who now lives in Kingston, is excited to find out. “I’m a different person now than I was, even two years ago. I’m always looking for opportunities for growth.”