Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff, Founding Chairman
Karen Thomas, Chair - Karen K. Thomas is a lifelong nature advocate and enthusiast. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Wild Center, a natural history museum in the heart of New York State’s Adirondack Park, which melds three passions of hers: environment, education, and the Adirondacks. The Wild Center was named a 2015 finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for museums in service to their communities, and is the first LEED certified museum in New York. Its Center’s Youth Climate Summit program has educated and inspired high school and college students for seven years to become leaders in the climate movement, with participants invited to the White House and COP21, Paris. Most recently, Karen co-chaired the Campaign for The Wild Center, successfully surpassing the $20 million goal.
Karen is an avid personal and community gardener focusing on native plants and ecological design, and her garden is being documented on behalf of Garden Club of America for submission to the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens. She has been a member of the Rye Garden Club for over 30 years, serving as President from 2008-2010. Karen also designed and installed the pollinator garden at the Edith Read Sanctuary in Rye, NY and gives community programs on pollination. Additionally, Karen served on the Board of Trustees and Board of Fellows for her alma mater, Trinity College in Hartford, CT from 2003-2015.
Karen has her BA from Trinity College and her Certificate in Sustainable Garden Design from the New York Botanical Garden. Karen divides her time between Rye and the Adirondacks, and is most often found hiking, gardening, or spending time with her family.
Sally Jeffords, Vice-Chair- From New York, New York, Sally retired as an attorney after working for the City of New York and New York Transit Authority for 20 years. Having spent most of her youth between upstate New York and Pennsylvania, Sarah (Sally) nurtured a love of nature, including birds, while exploring the outdoors on horseback with her family. After reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as a teenager, Sally had a life-changing moment: She was inspired to get involved with environmental conservation and, in particular, efforts to save land from development. Through her family foundation, Sally has been involved with the National Audubon Society since the 1980s. She currently serves as the vice chair of Audubon New York’s Board of Directors as well as a board member of the Seabird Restoration Institute and New York City Audubon Chapter. An active community member, Sally is also a trustee of Unity College in Maine; a member of the Friends of Hog Island in Maine; and Chair of the Steering Committee of the Friends of American Arts at Yale, another of her lifelong passions.
Deborah Rivel, Vice Chair- Deborah has a diverse 30-year background of experience in entertainment and technology at the production, management and board guidance level – including over 20 years of entrepreneurial ventures. She worked for a number of years in sales management for Westinghouse Broadcasting before becoming Director of Affiliate Relations for the NBC Radio Networks. Subsequent to that career in broadcast sales and management, she has since owned and managed her own businesses of international TV program sales, TV nature program production and management, and a mobile tech startup.
In 1991 she founded Wildsight Productions which produces pioneering international television documentaries focused on conservation and the relationship between man and wildlife. She founded Wildtones.com in 2005, which develops conservation and wildlife-related mobile products and iPhone applications.
Her work has garnered numerous awards including seven Emmys. She is currently a Board member of Gesturtek, Inc. and The Alex Foundation. Deborah enjoys being in and introducing others to nature and wildlife. Among her many interests are birds, animal behavior and cognition, wildlife photography, hiking, travel, dance, and decorative arts.
Alex Zagoreos, Treasurer- Alex is a Senior Advisor of Lazard Asset Management, with 44 years of investment experience investing in international and emerging markets. He received a B.A. from Columbia College, as well as a M.B.A. and Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University. He served on active duty as an officer for 2 years in the United States Navy.
He is currently Director of The World Trust Fund and Lazard Emerging World Fund and on the Board of Directors of the following companies: Alpha Andromeda Trust, and Probank (Athens) and The Emerging Markets Telecommunications Fund. He is chairman of Taiwan Opportunities Fund Limited, The Egypt Trust and The Utilico Emerging Markets Fund.
Alex’s interest in conservation started in his early years as a Boy Scout and developed after college in the early 1960s to clean up the air in New York City. He led the fight in the Hudson Valley to prevent some of the electric utilities from converting from low sulfur fuel oil and gas to coal without proper cleaning equipment. A number of legal battles were successful in enacting laws to address this practice. Alex was Director and Treasurer of the Hudson Riverkeeper, Chairman of Scenic Hudson as well as a director on the Scenic Hudson Land Trust. He was also a director of the New York League for Conservation Voters, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, and a number of local Hudson River groups involved in the protection of the River and its valley.
Alex and his wife Marine live on a farm in southern Washington County in upstate New York where they raise beef and other livestock.
Ross Whaley, Secretary- Since October 2007, Dr. Whaley has served as Senior Advisor to the Adirondack Landowners Association. He started this position after serving the Governor of New York as Chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency for four years. He brought to these positions more than 30 years experience as a university teacher, researcher and administrator. He also served as Director of Economics Research for the US Forest Service for 6 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a PhD in natural resource economics from the University of Michigan.
From 1984-2004 Ross was associated with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 16 years as its President and subsequently as University Professor. As Professor his interest focused on the political economy of sustainable development.
Ross has served as a consultant to or member of several state, national, and international commissions devoted to natural resource and environmental issues. In recognition of these activities he has been awarded the Pinchot Medallion by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, the Professional Conservationist Award by the New York Conservation Council, the Heiberg Memorial Award by the New York Forest Owners Association, and Honor Alumnus of Colorado State University.
Marsilia Boyle- Marsilia is Senior Vice President for Development of the LeFrak Organization -- one of the world’s leading building firms acclaimed for responsible community development with excellence in design, construction, engineering and urban planning. She has played a major role in many aspects of the Newport development, the company’s master planned community across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, including managing the successful city, state and federal permitting process, negotiating office and retail leases, negotiating easements and agreements with transportation agencies such as the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, Ferry Service and PATH and managing many of Newport’s business enterprises.
From 1979 to 1987, Marsilia was Director of Real Estate for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Before joining the MTA, she was Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Ports and Terminals where she managed waterfront and terminal market properties, and formulated policy for waterfront development in New York City.
Marsilia is currently a member of the Board of the New York City Audubon Society and Audubon New York. She also sings with the Collegiate Choral an amateur choral group which performs classical masterworks, opera, and American music in concert in venues such as Carnegie Hall and in Europe. She also served for 26 years as a member, and for two years as chairperson of Brooklyn Community Board 1. A graduate of St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York, Marsilia also holds the degree of Master of Public Administration from the State University of New York at Albany.
Willis (Wids) S. DeLaCour, Jr.- Wids was a member of the Board of the Prospect Park Audubon Center. Wids regularly participates in our Leadership Birdathon in Central Park and is a supporter of Audubon New York, including the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center. He is a member of the Board of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities and Co-Chair of the Housing Committee for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York. He is a partner in the firm DeLaCour & Ferrara Architects, which has built notably over 3000 affordable and special needs housing units within New York City and on Long Island.
Marian Heiskell- Marian Heiskell is a lifelong conservationist and a leader in numerous public and philanthropic activities focused on preserving green spaces in New York City and across the nation and making them vital and more humane. She was a citizen founder of Gateway National Recreation Area, one of the country’s largest urban national parks. She is the Honorary Chairman of GrowNYC; Honorary Chairman of The New 42nd Street, Inc.; and a driving force behind the restoration of 42nd Street & Times Square. She is also Chairman of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy; a member of the Board of Directors of Audubon New York (after serving as a longtime member of the National Audubon Board); and a member of the Board of Managers and the Executive Committee of The New York Botanical Garden. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of the 42nd Street Development Corp.; and is an Honorary Life Trustee of the Community Service Society of New York. She has received numerous awards for her conservation and beautification contributions to New York City and New York State.
Marian is proud to have been the granddaughter, daughter, wife, sister and, currently, the aunt of the Publisher of The New York Times. She is a former member of The New York Times Company Board and also served as a Board member of several other corporations, including Ford Motor Company, Merck & Co., Inc., and Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (Mrs. Heiskell was the first woman elected to these three boards.)
Thomas (Woody) Keesee- Thomas W. Keesee III, “Woody,” is a founding partner and principal of CDK Group LLC, a New York based investment firm. He has had a thirty year career in international finance including positions as a partner of Banco Pactual, a leading Brazilian investment bank, CS First Boston (now Credit Suisse) and the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York (now JP Morgan). Woody is currently a Board Member of the Dutchess Land Conservancy in Millbrook, New York and serves as Chairman of its investment committee.
Woody is a former Trustee of the Eastern New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and served on TNC's Brazil Advisory Group. He is also a shareholder and Board Member of Limpopo-Lipadi Game and Wilderness Reserve in Botswana which is dedicated to the conservation of habit and species in an important area of that country. Woody graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in International Relations and an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance. He is married with two adult children and lives in New York City and Millbrook, NY.
Diane Lewis, M.D.- Diane Lewis, M.D. is the founder of the nonprofit organization The Great Healthy Yard Project and author of the book by the same name. Her book, The Great Healthy Yard Project won the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards silver medal for Home and Garden Books. Lewis also received the 2015 Advocate Award from Environmental Advocates of New York, the 2016 Environmental Champion Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for The Great Healthy Yard Project, and in May 2016 the Zone III Conservation Award from The Garden Club of America.
Lewis has written opinion pieces about health and the environment for major newspapers including, “The Toxic Brew in our Yards” (New York Times Sunday Review, May 11, 2014), “Are green lawns worth the risk of green Lake Erie and toxic algae?” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 9, 2014), “What you do in your yard matters," (The Baltimore Sun, March 24, 2015), “Protect precious plants and water,” (The Camden Courier Post, March 9, 2015). She speaks frequently on the impact of water quality on health.
Lewis serves on the board of Earthjustice,the largest non-profit environmental law firm in the country, and is a member of the Bedford Garden Club, the Town of Bedford Planning Board, and the Town of Bedford Open Space Acquisition Committee.
Anne Manice- Anne spent the early part of her professional life as a research assistant at Memorial Sloane Kettering. Passionate about education, she began teaching in Narnia Catechetical programs in 1988 and in Audubon’s For The Birds! program in 2008, and is still active in both programs today.
Anne’s has extensive experience with NGOs and on Boards including being founder of the junior committee at The Museum of Natural History (and chaired their first fundraising party in 1979), the St. Bernard’s School, as Representative at the United Nations for WUCWO (World Union of Catholic women Organizations) on women's issues, and as President of the Board of the Arboretums de France, a French institution that encompasses several arboretums in France, and whose aims are to preserve, and educate the public, on the biodiversity of plants and trees. Anne was Founder and Executive Director of Pregnancy Help, Inc., a pregnancy counseling service in lower Manhattan.
She lives in New York City with her husband John and dog Asterix.
Edward Mohlenhoff, Esq.- Ed grew up in Oyster Bay Cove and East Norwich, New York, attended the public schools and graduated from Oyster Bay High School. Ed went on to get his Bachelors Degree in Economics from Columbia University and his law degree from St. Johns Law School. In the past, Ed has served on the Board of the Oyster Bay Main Street Association and the Nassau County Chapter of the American Red Cross and was also the past Chairperson of the Tax Certiorari and Condemnation Committee of the Nassau County Bar Assocation. He has served as the President and Vice President of the Advisory Board of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center and has served as a Trustee of the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club.
Presently, Ed is with the law firm of Schroder and Strom LLP, and before joining this firm he was a partner of the firm Siegel Fenchel and Peddy. Ed was also employed as a Deputy County Attorney for the Nassau County Attorney’s Office for a few years before entering into private practice. Previous to law school, Ed worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt and Mosle LLP.
In addition to his work in the very specialized field of Tax Certiorari, Ed is presently the President of Youngs Memorial Cemetary (burial site of President Theodore Roosevelt), on the State Board of Audubon New York, on the Advisory Board of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, Treasurer of the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay and on the Board of the Oyster Bay Community Foundation. He is also a member of the Oyster Bay Historical Society, Friends of Raynham Hall and SPLIA (Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.)
Ed currently lives in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, on the family compound known as Bakerhollow. The compound, was aptly named many years ago after his mother’s family, the Bakers, an old Oyster Bay Cove family that has lived at this location for the past 145 years. The compound, now consists of four houses originally owned by Ed’s great, grreat grandparents: Edward and Sarah Van Wicklen Baker. This homestead is on property that immediately adjoins the TR Sanctuary and Audubon Center.
Laura O'Donohue- Since 2004, Laura has been the Owner/Manager of Snow Hill Farm, LLC, a working farm on over 100 acres of gardens, pastures, and woods in the town of North Salem, Snow Hill Farm was established to bring fresh healthful food to the community while practicing responsible organic farming. Snow Hill Farm’s primary crop is grass-fed all natural certified Black Angus Beef. Additionally, the farm grows its own hay, builds healthy soils through the practice of composting, sustainably harvested firewood, and produces wood chips from forested land. Snow Hill Farm also has working apiaries which produce our own wildflower honey, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and a herd of Dorset Horn and Southdown Sheep which produce medium weight wool. Snow Hill Farm is a proud member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (Farmers Pledge), Watershed Agricultural Council, American Tree Farm System, New York Farm Bureau and the Audubon at Home Program. Snow Hill Farm has been awarded a Bird Habitat Certification for its organic farming practices, habitat management plan, and creation of a bird friendly property within a working farm.
Laura earned her BA degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and also serves on a number of other boards, including Stanford Educational Farm, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, The New 42nd Street, Audubon Women in Conservation and previously served on the Boards of The Paper Bag Players, Girls’ Quest (formerly Girls’ Vacation Fund) and Christ Church Day School. Her other interests include spending time with her husband, Kevin, and her four children, as well as hiking, playing tennis, attending theater, and reading.
Michael (Buzzy) O'Keeffe- Michael (Buzzy) O’Keeffe was born and raised in New York City. Soon after graduating college and serving in the United States Army, he began his efforts to build a restaurant on the waterfront, which would combine three of his avocations: building, food, and being by the water. He created the city’s first waterfront restaurant, The River Café, located on the Brooklyn side of the East River, immediately by the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in June 1977. During his twelve year waiting period, he built and operated eight additional restaurants, each receiving acclaim and notoriety. The restaurant received the Parks Council Award in 1978, The Municipal Arts Society Award in 1979, and was selected by Gault Millau, the French culinary guide as one of the five best restaurants in New York, in 1982. This year, The River Cafe was awarded with the prestigious “Ivy Award of Distinction” from Restaurants & Institutions magazine.
The success of the River Café inspired the City to propose a similar development on the Manhattan waterfront. The Water Club, located on the East River at 30th Street, opened in 1982, and currently ranks among the top-grossing restaurants in the United States, and has, along with The River Café, received the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award and been selected to the Restaurant Hall of Fame. Buzzy designed, built and operated, for eighteen years, the Cafe at Grand Central on the Vanderbilt Avenue Balcony of Grand Central. With the renovation of Grand Central Station, the Cafe had to close and Buzzy chose to move instead to Pershing Square at 42nd Street and Park Avenue rather than return to the terminal itself. It was yet another extreme challenge to build in this vast New York City Landmark, which is located under a roadway, over a railway, surrounded by major thoroughfares. Buzzy has spent an enormous amount of time and energy transforming this structure into a restaurant reminiscent of the grand cafes and dining halls that were an inherent part of New York City in the early 1900’s. The restaurant, Pershing Square Cafe, has already been given three stars by The New York Post, and received The Municipal Arts Society’s 1999 Preservation Award. The award was established to recognize outstanding examples of building restoration, completed during the last year in the five boroughs of New York City. There is one award each year given in the commercial design category.
In addition to creating numerous establishments over the past thirty years, he has served as a consultant for many New York City restaurants and has been invited to speak about his innovative waterfront architectural designs for the 23rd Street Development Project at the International Symposiumon Ocean Space Utilization held at Nihon University in Japan.
He is an active member of the Futures in Education Foundation, which raises money for inner-city school children. He served on the Board of Directors of the Fire Safety Foundation, the Harbor Foundation of New York and New Jersey and Fordham Preparatory School, and is a member of the Cardinal’s Committee of The Laity, the New York State Restaurant Association, the Manhattan Waterfont Alliance and the University of Limerick in Ireland.
Gail Port, Esq.- Gail Port, Esq. is head of Proskauer’s Interdepartmental Environmental Group. Gail has been practicing environmental law, land use and litigation for almost 40 years. Gail has a platinum reputation and I have had the pleasure of working with her for my entire career. Prior to joining Proskauer, Gail was the Deputy General Counsel, and Acting General Counsel, and the chief environmental advisor to the New York State Urban Development Corporation. Before her public service, Gail was an associate at a prominent environmental boutique law firm. Gail is a Fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, and served for the past 20 years as one of only five citizen members on the New York State Environmental Board. Gail is a committed conservationist and presently serves on the League of Conservation Voters of New York Board where she serves as Co-Vice Chair and also served for a number of years on the Environmental Advocates Board.
Gini Stowe- Gini has contributed enormously to the growth of Audubon New York. She is currently the Chair of the Audubon New York Board, serves on the Development and Governance Committees, has chaired both the Keesee and Women in Conservation Luncheons, and, with her good friend Margot, led numerous Leadership Birdathons. In addition, Gini has put her passion for children and education to great use as a founding teacher of Audubon New York’s For the Birds! environmental education program in underserved New York City public schools. This volunteer work is a natural outgrowth of her professional life, where she is a parent educator, family counselor, author, and founder and director of the not-for-profit Parenting Development Resource, Inc.
Gini is also proud to have served on the National Audubon Society Board and continues to be a strong advocate and supporter for Audubon’s Forestry and International Alliances Programs, particularly as they work to protect her favorite species -- the Wood Thrush.
June Summers- June has been a member of Genesee Valley Audubon Society/NAS since 1983. She has served in a number of positions on the Executive Board of GVAS and is currently President. She was a member of the Executive Board of The New York River Otter Project that restored North American River Otters to Central and Western New York by trap, transfer and release from the Adirondacks. A total of 281 river otters were released to restore the population.
June has advocated for an environmentally friendly lake level control plan for Lake Ontario for ten years. In December of 2016 President Obama passed the International Joint Commissions’ Plan 2014 which takes into consideration the environment along with power generation and shipping. Plan 2014 gives the wetlands along the shores of Lake Ontario to recover from 50 years of high water which turned them into a monoculture of cattails.
As a member of the Rochester Area of Concern Committee, June was able to advocate for EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds to be used for a project to be constructed by the Army Corps of Engineer in the Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area (IBA). This project installed a breakwater to protect the main wetland from the destruction of the lake waves. The project also installed 6.7 acres of potholes and 11,700 Lf of channels in the wetlands creating diversity. June is involved in the adaptive management plan for the project and will continue to monitor this project for years to come.
John Wilkinson- John has served as mediator or arbitrator in hundreds of domestic and international cases in the past 25 years primarily involving complex, multi-party commercial disputes. He is Chair-Elect of the New York State Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section and is Co-Chair of the Section’s Arbitration Committee, as well as recent Co-Chair of the Section’s Mediation Committee. He also is Vice-Chair of the Arbitration Committee of the ABA’s Dispute Resolution Section.
He serves on the panels of neutrals of the American Arbitration Association; the International Centre for Dispute Resolution; CPR Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (National and International Panels of Distinguished Neutrals); Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre; and Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration.