I have wanted to be a part of the Ulster County legislature for nearly two decades.
It was back in 2003, when serving as the advocacy chair for the Ulster County Youth Board that I first found myself in our county’s legislative chambers. Back then, as I argued or pleaded for more funding for youth programs that were delivering important services for our kids– programs like Family, Boys and Girls Club, and YMCA — I understood I could be more effective at making a change if I was serving in the legislature. I also recognized then that many of our legislators had limited experience with the social and economic needs of the county, and lacked the experience “on the ground.” I feel that real life experience is germane to being an effective representative. So it is now, after 16 years of working in the field hearing the needs of residents and the challenges of service agencies and government, that I feel strongly equipped to make a difference in the county chambers sitting among the other elected legislators.
A blended Ulster County family.
Over 20 years ago, I chose SUNY New Paltz as the place to start and build my career as a professor of sociology and criminology. I was immediately taken in by the Village’s energy, walkability, and social activism. I initially resided in our neighboring town of Rosendale moving to New Paltz in 2016 with my two children, Daisy and Quinn. We joined Craig Weinstein, Varsity Soccer coach for the New Paltz High School, and father to Reilly, Fiona, and Kieran to create our wonderful blended family of seven; the boys are completing high school and the girls are in New York City pursuing higher education in sustainability, political science, and social work.
Village Planning Board Chair
In November 2017, I was appointed to serve on the Village Planning Board and in May, 2018 appointed by the Village as the Planning Board Chair. I appreciate contributing to the effort of finding the balance between promoting smart growth in our Village and retaining the community’s character. In my capacity as Planning Board Chair, and as a community member, I attend Village Board meetings, adding my voice to the conversation to make our Village wonderful for all its residents.
Working to Protect Kids
In 1991, I began my first job in Ulster County at the Mental Health Association. I ran a teen drop-in center in the Hudson Valley Mall every Friday and Saturday night and developed the Youth-in-Action county-wide curriculum addressing HIV awareness and education in every school district. I left briefly to further my education but returned, and in 2003, I was appointed to the Ulster County Youth Board as the Chair of Youth Advocacy, serving for four years. In this capacity, I received a Pride of Ulster County Award for my work defending youth program funding in our county. I continue to study and discuss region-wide youth risk behaviors and drug abuse prevention.
Serving County and State
I received a legislative appointment in 2005 to our county’s Criminal Justice Council, serving as its Vice-Chair for nine years. In 2009, I was among the earlier members of the Rosendale Theatre Collective, and in 2011, as the group finalized its status as an independent non-profit theatre, I was appointed as President, serving until 2014. In 2017, I received an Assembly appointment as a commissioner on the New York State Commission for Women’s Suffrage.
Working on Women’s Equity, Safety and Health
As a PhD in Epidemiology I have been studying violence against women and attitudes toward women for over 25 years. With the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives I work with government and nonprofits in our region to measure the efficacy of their work. With the Institute for Family Health I design and conduct research aimed at reducing health disparities due to income, race, and ethnicity, and I train many of the health care professionals who serve in the county. In 2017, I created and implemented the View on Women (VOW) poll; the first public opinion poll on women, and have published numerous papers on the subject of intimate partner violence with special focus on social attitudes that deny, condone, or marginalize its victims.