Our Board of Directors
MEET OUR DIRECTORS
After a career working indoors with adults, Andrea Ricard now enjoys working outdoors with children. As a Guided School Program Instructor and Friends Greeter she believes that future generations must learn to love the outdoors, to protect our environment when they become working, voting adults.
Kathryn Simpson is a Program Assistant with the New York State Office of Mental Health Adult Community Care Group.
As a Master of Public Health and Certified Health Education Specialist, Kathryn is passionate about improving community health through connection with nature. Kathryn is focused on policy, systems, and environmental change to address social determinants of health and improve health equity.
Melanie has degrees in Zoology and Environmental Education and experience teaching environmental education programs at several different nature centers. She believes that introducing children to nature at a young age can foster a lifelong love of the outdoors and the desire to preserve it. She is excited to be part of the Friends of Five Rivers Board and help promote this belief. Melanie currently lives in Altamont with her husband and three children.
AD HOC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIR
Cyndee Berlin brings over 25 years of experience in government, communications and consumer advocacy to her role at Friends of Five Rivers. She believes that nature provides the key to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Cultivating an appreciation for the importance of land preservation and inspiring people to expand our mind and senses through natural beauty has always been her passion.
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT AND FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIR
Randy Coburn worked for over 30 years in NYS government managing a wide range of economic development programs. Randy enjoys outdoors activities and the beauty and quietude of Five Rivers. He and his wife Athena are happy to support its mission of environmental education.
BOARD MEMBER AND LAND USE COMMITTEE CHAIR
It is essential for us to do more than educate people about the world that supports them. People must experience nature and work to conserve their corner of the planet. Five Rivers is a unique treasure where children and adults can help to preserve our environment.
Ayal has always loved the outdoors and has been an avid supporter of environmental conservation. As well as being an amateur naturalist, he’s earned a Permaculture Design Certificate and continues to advocate for ecological sustainability and the healing of our home planet. He believes the earlier we teach our children the importance of being one with our natural world the stronger their commitment to the Earth will be. The more we immerse ourselves in nature’s beauty the more we can become in tune with it.
“If kids grow kale, kids eat kale!” – Ron Finley
Alan grew up in Delmar and is a graduate of Bethlehem Central schools. Five Rivers has been an important part of his life ever since childhood. Like many, his love for Five Rivers began with the beaver dam trail and has evolved with each and every visit. After leaving the Capital Region for school, Alan, his wife Trisha, and son Luke have returned and now reside in Slingerlands. Alan is a psychiatrist at Albany Medical Center. He looks forward to preserving and growing the impact of Five Rivers through his participation on the Friends board.
BOARD MEMBER AND NOMINATING COMMITTEE CHAIR
Larry Naviasky resides in Delmar and is a local attorney. His concern for the environmental education dates back to his days at Union College where he chaired the Student Environmental Alliance and wrote his senior thesis about the 1970 Clean Air Act. His love for Five Rivers grew from numerous visits to the Center with his three, now grown boys, Jake, Gabe and Ethan. Larry believes the mission of Friends of Five Rivers is imperative: “Environmental education of our children is essential to their understanding of how humankind impacts our water, air and earth.
Carole’s heartfelt interest in the environment has been lifelong. She worked as an environmental policy analyst for nearly 25 years, predominately for the NYS Senate and NYS Energy Research & Development Authority. Since retirement, she has been active in many volunteer organizations dedicated to environmental quality issues, including more recently, land preservation, climate change, pesticides and waste reduction. Attending Adult Talk and Trek programs at Five Rivers has been one of the most interesting and “grounding” experiences of her involvement with the environment. The benefits of learning about nature in a hands-on approach led her to get involved with the Guided School Program. The opportunity to experience nature along with joyful children is the best reward for a lifelong commitment to the environment.
Andrew’s background is based in design, manufacturing and construction. He helped write a lot of the early Integrated Pest Management pillars that are still part of their Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for golf courses. He’s been enjoying Five Rivers since the ripe age of six and hopes to pair the Friends up with new partners and programs, especially within the architecture, design and construction community.
Mary Louise Stanford
Mary Louise Stanford is a native of the Beverwyck neighborhood of Albany, and a Delmar resident for more than 30 years. A chemist and attorney, she is the mother of two adult sons who have spent many happy hours hiking and skiing at Five Rivers.
Michael Stratton has worked in higher education for over 27 years. Michael enjoys working with students and is inspired when students have a moment of sudden insight or discovery. Michael loves spending time in the woods. He has thru hiked several long distance trails including the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Wonderland Trail, West Coast Trail, Cohos Trail and Northville-Placid Trail. He has been an Adirondack Lean-to adaptor for years and has also hiked all 46 of the Adirondack high peaks. At home he enjoys teaching and creating stained glass and copper wire trees.