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Board of Directors

nevillNevill Smythe, President, is a philanthropic consultant specializing in planned giving programs, fundraising, and general non-profit management.  He is the former Vice President, Programs at the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley where he was responsible for administering donor advised, designated, field of interest and scholarship funds as well as grant awards. Prior to the Community Foundation, he was the Director of Development for Poughkeepsie Day School and the Whitby School in Greenwich, CT.  Nevill was also involved in the advertising and print production fields in New York and Boston.  He serves on several nonprofit boards and is a past Chair of the Chamber Foundation of the Dutchess Regional Chamber of Commerce.

jackiJacki Brownstein, Vice President, was the Executive Director of Mental Health America in Dutchess County for 16 years before her retirement in 2012. Prior to her appointment as ED of the MHA in DC, she was the Division Director of Family and Youth Services at the Mental Health Association in Ulster County.   In the past she has worked as a trainer, counselor and educator for teen parent services, family planning services and at-risk youth.   Ms. Brownstein has served and continues to serve on numerous boards and committees concerned with mental health, addictions, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, at risk youth, disaster mental health, family planning and social welfare issues.  She has been on the Boards of national Mental Health America and the NYS Mental Health Association.

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Roy Merolli, Ph.D., Treasurer is a professor of Public Administration at Marist College, where he served as Executive Vice President for 15 years, responsible for strategic planning, resource development, institutional research, human resources, campus development, information technology,town/gown relations and liaison to external legal counsel. Prior to his appointment at Marist, Dr. Merolli was Vice President for Finance and Administration at Eastern Connecticut State University for 16 years. Dr. Merolli received his doctorate in political science from the University of Connecticut, with major areas of study in Public Administration, Public Finance and American Government.

Valerie Belton is the Branch/Business Development Manager for the new location of Ulster Savings Bank in Wappingers Fall, NY where she is responsible for operations, staff management, new business and community relations.  Ms. Belton graduated with a BS in Communications and a Business Administration minor from East Carolina University.  Valerie is a 2014 fellows graduate of the Hudson Valley Patterns for Progress.  Ms. Belton serves on the Trustee Board of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Wappingers Fall, NY.  Valerie supports and participates in numerous community and charity events, Go Red for Women Luncheon, Heart Association Walk, Feed the Homeless Ministry in Poughkeepsie, The Cosimos Celebrity Server Dinner and the Anti-bullying Walkathon.  Valerie is passionate about helping others.  A 21 year resident of Dutchess County, she is the proud parent of two sons Alexander and Cameron Belton and grandparent to Gabriella Belton.

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Diane Jablonski is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in Mathematics. She retired after 37 years in management at IBM and as a consultant and director for Cap Gemini Ernst and Young. Diane served a 4 year term as Dutchess County Comptroller and was appointed to a 5 year term as a New York State Bridge Authority Commissioner. She is active in the Dutchess County Mediation Center as a mediator and board member, serves on the boards of NYS AAUW and the Poughkeepsie Branch AAUW, participates in the Dutchess Democratic Women’s Caucus, and on the leadership team of her church.


Karen Lawson has been a Claims Adjuster with Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Corp. since 2006. She graduated Cum Laude from Marist College with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Paralegal Certification. Karen is a NY State licensed Private Investigator with 14 years of experience in civil litigation and criminal defense matters in both Dutchess and Ulster County. She has investigated matters for the New York State Insurance Fund and conducted investigations on behalf of the New York State Capital Defender’s Office. She contributes to various organizations including United Way, The American Heart Association and The American Cancer Society. Karen volunteers weekly as a Book Buddy for Literacy Connections of the Hudson Valley and yearly for the United Way Day of Caring.  Karen has resided in Ulster County her entire life and enjoys hiking the rail trails and Mohonk/Minnewaska with her husband Eric and rescue dog Paisley.

Don Murphy was the CEO of St. Francis Hospital (now Mid- Hudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Regional Medical Center) for 25 years (ret. 2000), one of two community hospitals in Poughkeepsie. Prior to assuming the CEO position, he held senior hospital positions in Worcester, MA and Albany, NY. While in Albany he also was an adjunct professor of Health Care Administration in the Graduate School of RPI. He holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Philosophy also an MBA in Health Care Administration. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association and sat on the board of Mental Health America-Dutchess County serving as treasurer. He also was elected Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Dutchess County.