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.
Interim Vice President
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.
Dr. Stephanie Maes
Dr. Stephanie Maes brings professional experience with the NY Department of Education, and as Assistant Professor of Geology at the College of Saint Rose training Elementary Education majors in techniques of outdoor education. She and her family are also frequent visitors to Five Rivers.
Immediate Past President
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.
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
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.
Kathryn Simpson is a Project Coordinator with the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) where she helps to manage and advance key priorities within the Workforce Transformation unit. Kathryn provides professional, administrative, and staff support to unit leadership by managing multiple projects and business services; conducting special studies and research projects related to recruitment and staffing to inform workforce policy; and managing office and support activities. Kathryn helps support the development of workforce initiatives to build a Direct Support Professional pipeline to address the significant worker shortage that is threatening the supports and services provided to people with developmental disabilities.
Prior to taking on her role at OPWDD, Kathryn was a Program Manager at the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) where she was responsible for assisting Local Health Departments in strengthening their individual and collective capacity in climate adaptation efforts, workforce training and professional development, COVID-19 response, and more. Kathryn served as liaison with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and other contract agencies on implementation of various programmatic activities.
As a Master of Public Health and Certified Health Education Specialist, Kathryn is passionate about improving population health. Kathryn is focused on policy, systems, and environmental change to address social determinants of health and improve health equity.
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.